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I am incredibly humbled and grateful to have been a part of this extraordinary undertaking and program. It is invaluable to have opportunities for junior researchers to expand their knowledge and impact on the scientific world.
I often look back to my time of study abroad in Berlin, Germany with very dear memories – the friendships I made that I still cherish; the travels in Germany and Europe that richly expanded my cultural sensitivities, and above all, the advancements in my German skills and in my knowledge of German culture that would fundamentally benefit my future graduate studies in piano and musicology.
As we strive to engineer for humanity, we must remember that technologies we build don’t exist in vacuums. They have an outsized impact on users often out of sight and often out of mind. An empathy of people both from and beyond our lived experiences is a necessity in our increasingly interconnected world. Sometimes, all it takes is a new river to start seeing things with a new view.
My experience in Berlin has informed my future career plans after graduation; in particular, the inspiration and encouragement I found in vibrant community art scenes has led me to consider more seriously entering the field of art education alongside a professional career as a musician.
I want to try my hand at things I could be bad at. I want to take risks and to keep taking on an active role in my own life, in seeking out opportunities to let go of what I know in favor of what could be bigger or better or more well-suited for my talents and interests.
There are few things more satisfying and reassuring than grappling with the challenges of study abroad and emerging victorious.
" I learned more about community engagement while gathering public input on streetscape projects in the pouring rain than I have in classrooms or offices."
"Going abroad helped me understand new environments, interact with local communities, and be comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone it was my first step in setting my newfound path into motion."
To combat the general discomfort I felt, I created and surrounded myself in physical and mental environments that I wanted to be and thrive in. Immersing my mind in positive thinking and poetry helped to greatly enhance my time abroad.
"Coming from a minority perspective forced me to see things in a different light and take a critical look at my own assumptions, thought processes and fundamental beliefs."
"My day-to-day experience was vibrant. I would share each breakfast and dinner chatting with my host mom about politics, the city, and new art installations at museums—she was my biggest resource in terms of connecting to the culture."
...all of my previous experiences in Paris could not prepare me for the one I had at Reid Hall – a place that opened a vast world of history, thought, and cultural life to which I was, until that point, little more than a doting outsider.
Returning to Paris from Cannes, I was distinctly aware that I would never have another experience like this one. Truth be told, my entire time spent at Reid Hall was full of adventures as extraordinary as this one, full of people and places that changed me for the better.
The type of housing you select may have a significant impact on your experience abroad, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
My BCGS study abroad experience paved the way for my return the following summer to work as an EMGIP fellow in the German parliament and my graduate studies at the London School of Economics in European Politics.
I am grateful to BCGS, as the year I spent in Berlin has academically and socially prepared my life after college.
If you want to make studying abroad a thought-provoking experience, I encourage you to keep track of every little culture shock as well!
Study abroad provided me with the mechanism to not only enrich my language learning experience, and my understanding of the world, but also to rediscover some of the hidden beauty in everyday life.