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Study Abroad Week 2022

4.04.2022

Illinois College BreakAway and study abroad programs open the door for life-defining global experiences to be immersed in culture as students have the opportunity to live, study, travel and work in many different locations all across the globe.

During the 2022 Study Abroad Week, our current students discuss how their own study abroad experiences opened their eyes and changed their lives.

 

Emmanuel Cruz is an exchange student from Tao Baja, Puerto Rico, and is studying 3D animation during is year at Illinois College. Emmanuel shares about his experience as an exchange student living on campus, the community and connections he's made, and how his time at IC has helped shape and prepare him for the future.

How have you felt since arriving at Illinois College? How has the College and your peers supported you in your time here?

Ever since I started this adventure I've felt like I'm home. I became a part of the campus community and the international students have helped me adjust very well. We've become a family.

Did you always know you wanted to study abroad?

Yes, ever since I was a sophomore in high school I longed for the experience.

Why did you choose to come to Illinois College?

I chose IC because I saw the opportunity to grow culturally and personally. 

What were you excited about or nervous about before coming to IC?

At first it was about the people or how big the campus was. I felt really excited about living on campus as we don’t normally do that back home. 

What’s been your favorite part of your IC experience?

On campus my favorite part is the upper level seal because it’s really peaceful. Otherwise my favorite part is the community and sense of familiarity with the other students. Everyone helps and protects each other here, creating a sense of family. 

What have you learned about yourself during this experience?

During this experience I've learned that I can do much more than I thought. The IC experience helped me realize how passionate and resilient I am towards the things I want.

How did it prepare you to reach your goals and future career?

I have developed personal growth, independence and ambition.

What advice would you give another student interested in studying abroad at Illinois College?

Be open to learn about other cultures and make friends. Also, stay warm!

How would you describe study abroad in five words?

Exciting, adventurous, enriching, spontaneous and empowering.

 

 

Abby Stockton ’24 — a communications major with a minor in marketing — recently had the opportunity to take part in a BreakAway to Patagonia, Argentina. Abby shares how this experience changed her life, and encourages students to take a leap of faith and get their own study abroad experience.

What was your study abroad experience and why did you choose it?

My study abroad experience was in Patagonia, Argentina. I chose this experience because I enjoy hiking and I have always wanted to go to Argentina.

Did you always know you wanted to study abroad? If not, what made you want to study abroad?

I never thought that I would get the opportunity to study abroad. I always thought that it looked like something I would enjoy, but I did not know how to make it possible. I am really glad that IC offers the BreakAways as an opportunity to study abroad. It was truly one of the most amazing and impactful experiences I will ever have.

What were you excited about or nervous about before you left?

What I was looking forward to most when getting ready for the trip was all of the amazing places we studied in our BreakAway course. We were able to learn about all of the places we then got to go while being in Argentina. This made me a lot less nervous about traveling and the whole experience. 

What was your favorite part? What was the most surprising thing you did or saw?

My favorite part about the trip was the long hikes that we got to go on. Once we got half way through, we would end up at some of the most beautiful places in the world. This is what was so surprising to me. We had seen pictures of these places leading up to the trip, but you truly do not realize how breathtaking it is until you are there experiencing it. 

What did you learn about yourself during this experience?

One thing that I learned about myself on this trip was that I really enjoy traveling and experiencing new things. 

How did this hands-on learning experience benefit your IC education?

It gave me a new perspective on learning and education. It made me realize that we are very fortunate for the education that we receive. It also made me realize that I learn better in a hands-on learning environment.

How did it prepare you to reach your goals and future career?

This trip helped me prepare to reach my goals and future career by teaching me not to give up. This trip was not easy due to COVID-19 complications, but we all stuck through and never gave up hope.

What advice would you give another student interested in studying abroad?

One piece of advice that I would give another student thinking about studying abroad is: DO IT. This is the best time of our lives to take that chance and to experience new things. It could end up being the best experience of your life. 

How would you describe study abroad in five words?

The experience of a lifetime.

 

 

Cody Phillips ’23 — an actuarial science major with minors in mathematics, German and computer science — recently began the semester in Heidelberg, Germany. Cody shares why he chose this study abroad experience and what he hopes to get out of it.

What was your study abroad experience and why did you choose it?

I am studying in Heidelberg, Germany, focusing mainly on language and culture. I chose this for two reasons. One was that it is one of four exchange programs offered through the school, which are set up to allow IC students to pay normal IC tuition rather than the tuition of the school abroad, which made the logistics much easier for me. The reason I chose this particular exchange program, though, was because I had a lot of people that I look up to encouraging me to take a leap and experience something different, and I had developed a great interest in my foreign language courses.

Did you always know you wanted to study abroad? If not, what changed your mind?

No, coming to college I actually had no interest in anything abroad or even foreign language. I became interested in studying abroad because of how much IC wanted to help make it happen and the people encouraging me to do it. I think that I ultimately decided to try for it my freshman year after a conversation with a senior who I very much looked up to and who had just returned from his own semester abroad.

What were you excited about or nervous about before you left?

I was very nervous about navigating the atmosphere of a foreign country, both culturally and linguistically, and I was even more nervous about being able to go completely alone and make friends. The latter, however, also had me very excited to go.

What has been your favorite part?

I still have much to experience, I’m only one month into a five month experience, but so far my favorite part has been the differences. Germany feels very similar to America, except everything is a little different. It’s like if America had made different decisions in all kinds of small areas sixty years ago, and it had matured in a different way. It’s making me reconsider many things that I had never even thought about and I really like that.

What have you learned about yourself so far?

I wanted this semester to be a chance for me to disappear from my life and live a different one for a while. I didn’t know what good that would do me, but I really felt that I needed it. I’ve only been gone a month, but in the past week I have begun to recognize some things about my own life. I still have a lot of time left to grow, and I fully expect that I will return much more present in my life, and be able to take a much wider and fuller view of my future as well.

How has this hands-on learning experience benefited your IC education?

I have been forced to use German every day. Before I left the the country, I feel that my language was at a painful point in which it takes a lot of effort and time to break through and grow at a good pace again — a point at which many people give up on learning new things. Without this trip abroad, I am certain that I would have never learned a language. I am still fighting against that resistance, but I am beginning to make progress again and believe that it is creating growth beyond just linguistic understanding.

What advice would you give another student interested in studying abroad?

If you think you may be interested, start looking into it and taking steps right away. I began at the end of my freshman year, which gave me a lot more options, but I don’t think I was in any way committed to the trip until my junior year.

How would you describe your study abroad experience in five words?

The best terrifying college decision.