Education Abroad, U.Va.

Education Abroad

A Division of the International Studies Office


Interns & Outreach Liaisons

Want to help promote education abroad? Want to learn more about International Education? Apply to be an Intern with the ISO!  Now accepting applications.  Application deadline: July 10, 2017.


Meet the 2016-17 Group

My name is Colleen Adenan, and I’m a fourth year double majoring in foreign affairs and history. I spent the fall of 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. I did enjoy some glamorous weekend getaways, such as when I spent Thanksgiving in Portugal or my birthday in Venice. Yet those weekend getaways were only a small part of my study abroad experience. While not traveling, I would attend classes, which were small seminars that consisted of discussions on international relations with students from Russia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and other destinations that offered vastly different opinions I may not have found at UVA. Living in the middle of the city was a great experience because it allowed me to truly live like a Swiss. I quickly became a regular at local gelato and Italian establishments, and found it comforting that I could be greeted with a familiar smile like I might find in Charlottesville. I’ve returned to UVA with a lot of new qualities and memories, but perhaps one of the most valuable is my experience as a local rather than a tourist.

My name is Sandra Adounvo, and I’m a fourth year double major in Foreign Affairs and French. I studied at the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and Sciences Po Lyon. I shared an apartment near la Seine with 2 other international students, and this experience proved both rewarding culturally and socially because it challenged my views and made me more aware of differences within cultures.My educational experience in Lyon was very different from my experience at UVA, in terms of the behavior and general comportment of my fellow peers. For example, I experienced culture shock when I realized that my peers took verbatim notes of the lectures. I later realized that my peers did this because they wanted to capture and/or recreate the same linguistic style that their professors used when discussing class material. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my educational experience in Lyon and wished that I had gone abroad for a longer period to fully immerse myself in all aspects of French culture.

My name is Esther Adwoa, and I am a 4th year studying Religious Studies. I was lucky enough to spend a semester abroad my 3rd year spring semester in St. Andrews in Scotland as part of the Science for Health Professions program. Like UVA, St. Andrews is a bubble where students are isolated compared to everyone outside the University. However, there was no defined campus at St. Andrews, so the school integrated into the town and brought us closer to the community. Dorms and classes were distinguishable, but were located among shops and restaurants. The program was a quasi-exchange program, and there was a lot of self-teaching. Additionally, the pre-med culture at St. Andrews is “do-it-yourself”, but the people taking the science courses at St. Andrews were more collaborative and not as competitive. I cannot wait to go back to my home away from home one of these days!

My name is Alexis Alvarez, and my experience studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco could not be more different than studying in Charlottesville, Virginia. While abroad, I studied Multiculturalism and Human Rights as well as conducted fieldwork. This program introduced me to the vast diversity within Morocco. People from all over Africa reside there and the beautiful sounds of French and Arabic can be heard around every corner. I stayed within the walled, old city also known as the "medina" and it was amazing to feel so entrenched in history. Staying in an Arabic-speaking homestay further immersed me in Moroccan culture and gave me a family away from home. Instead of my days being filled with back-to-back classes and extracurriculars, they were filled with Moroccan mint tea dates, surfing, and getting lost in the city’s winding streets. If I had stayed in Charlottesville for my entire undergrad, I would have missed out on the fantastic world that was waiting for me in Morocco. The country was my classroom.

My name is Erin Caubo and I’m a third year Spanish major with a minor in Business Spanish. I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain during the spring semester of 2016. When I have traveled with my family, I often leave with my appetite for travel whetted, but not fully satisfied. However, studying abroad allowed me to take a deep breath, relax, and fully immerse myself in a new place. The four months in Valencia certainly flew by, but I undeniably connected to the city on a much deeper level than if I had only been there for a few weeks. By living with a host family and enrolling in 15 credits of Spanish classes, I was surrounded by the Spanish language and culture at all times. As I tagged along with my host madre to museums and the local restaurants, I saw the city from a local’s perspective. By the end of the program, with a stronger control of the language and an understanding of the culture, I was comfortable navigating Valencia, and I felt like Valencia’s rich culture, traditions, and people had changed me for the better.

My name is Claire Dykas, and I’m a fourth year biology major. I spent the spring 2016 semester studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. My favorite part of living abroad was becoming integrated into the Danish culture and even being mistaken for a local! I felt as though living abroad, rather than being a tourist allowed me to learn more about Copenhagen’s history and travel off the beaten path, exploring areas not known to many. Some of my favorite memories while abroad are biking to a local bakery each Wednesday to buy fresh cinnamon rolls to enjoy in the park with my friends, traveling to eight other countries, and visiting Tivoil, the amusement park where Walt Disney got his inspiration! I am excited to share my experience with anyone looking to go to Denmark or elsewhere and cannot wait for the opportunity to go back to Europe!

My name is Maggie Gratz, and I’m a fourth year Global Studies major with a minor in Global Sustainability. Living in Thailand was drastically different than living in Charlottesville. Fortunately, I quickly came to realize that cultural differences were opportunities to discover unexpected excitement in everything unfamiliar. I attended classes taught in English throughout the week at Chiang Mai University with 60 other U.S. students. However, Thai society transformed all I would normally view as “mundane, thoughtless tasks” into daily adventures. Learning how to drive a motor scooter to get around, practicing when to offer a wai instead of a handshake at greetings, roaming the streets of Chiang Mai looking for meals, or embracing the slower, laid-back pace of “Thai” time. The simplest changes of living allowed me to notice what I was used to overlooking. My time in Thailand therefore gave me the opportunity to observe my behavior every day, and cultural differences challenged that behavior. 

My name is Edgar Hoover, and I’m a third year majoring in mechanical engineering. Studying abroad in Berlin was different from living in Charlottesville because you are constantly surrounded by a huge variety of different people. Since Berlin is a very international city, you come across tourists from all over the world on a daily basis, both on the street and when commuting to and from class. The fact that Berlin is a large city also means that those walking on the street with you are people of all ages and of all social classes. From wealthy businessmen and businesswomen getting into their Ferraris to homeless people begging for money on the street, you are guaranteed to see it all. Living and studying in Charlottesville on the other hand only exposes you to a limited variety of different people, which is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have studied abroad.

My name is Brittany Hsieh, and I am a 4th-year studying Computer Science and Global Public Health, minoring in Global Environments and Sustainability. I have been extremely fortunate in my studies as I have studied abroad three times. I first spent the summer of 2015 in Costa Rico, where I was able to deeply immerse myself in the culture, and my host family really became a second family to me. Immediately following my trip to Costa Rica, I spent four weeks in Hong Kong. As a Taiwanese-American, this was the first time I was part of a majority for an extended amount of time, and I was able to experience culture from an insider’s perspective. This summer, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to conduct public health research. We engaged with several rural, impoverished communities via service projects in order to gain a foothold in the communities. These three experiences really fueled my love of travel and international education, and were a once in a lifetime experience to live in these places and see a world outside the UVA bubble.

My name is Abby Hylton and I am a 4th year student studying American Government and Spanish. I spent the fall 2015 semester studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. My time in Valencia gave me the opportunity to experience Spain in a way that no tourist ever could. While abroad, I was able to live with a host family, take courses with professors from Valencia, and become a part of the community by participating in a Service Learning Internship. All of these experiences allowed me to build a support system, engage in conversations about the culture, learn about varying global perspectives, and grow more confident in my Spanish language skills. I was able to explore the city beyond the main tourist destinations. I was able to live like someone from Valencia: shopping at the same stores and markets, using the same public transportation, attending classes, eating the same food, and living in a typical Spanish household. Though being a tourist in a new city can be fun and exciting, my time in Valencia was incredibly rewarding because I was able to immerse myself in the culture, overcome the challenges of adapting to a new environment, and forge relationships that I will always cherish.

My name is Megan Killilea, and I’m a fourth year double major in Foreign Affairs and Spanish. My time abroad was arguably one of the best and most formative times of my life. I met amazing new people, saw breathtaking sites, and broadened my educational horizons. More than that, Valencia truly became my home. I learned where the best café con leche and paella were, discovered the fasted metro, and when my neighborhood bakery had the freshest bread. Tourism is an amazing way to see the world, but it doesn’t allow for the breath of new knowledge that study abroad provides. Tourism lets you see the hot spots of an area without truly getting to know the place, people, or culture like study abroad facilitates.  By studying abroad, you gain a new home, cultural appreciation, and understanding of a different way of life in a way that is entirely impossible as a tourist.

I am Victoria Larned, a fourth year biology and cognitive science double major, who spent the Fall 2015 semester in Brisbane, Australia. People tend to think that study abroad is a chance for a long term vacation, tourism at its finest. That is where you are wrong, it is so much more. While on vacation, you try to see the main sights within a short span of time, such as the Sydney Opera House or Uluru (Australia’s outback). What you will not get to experience as a tourist that you do while studying abroad is exploring new cultures, meeting people across the world who become lifelong friends,  and extending your travels to regions of the world you might not otherwise reach. Australia has become a second home to me. I made friends from Brazil, Sri Lanka, Germany, Sweden, and Australia amongst others. I got to explore the Great Barrier Reef, the deep depths of the rainforest in Bali, Indonesia, and hike my way through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Australia is my home because I know I can return and feel comfortable in a city that I grew to love in four months. Tourism is fun, but study abroad is life changing.

My name is Joslin Markowski, and I’m a fourth year majoring in Psychology and Spanish. Studying abroad is tremendously different than being a tourist in a foreign country. When you go abroad, you leave behind your comfort and security but grow in new and unexpected ways. You can essentially be a tourist anywhere but you can only call few places a home. During my experience abroad, I discovered the hidden gems of a city I now love and built impactful relationships with locals; the barista remembered exactly how I like my cafe con leche. Becoming a temporary local is much more rewarding than being a tourist because you inevitably develop cultural understandings that go far beyond what could be achieved on a quick trip.

I’m Lucy McNamara, and I’m a fourth year studying history and Spanish. One of the first things I noticed after four months abroad in Buenos Aires was how easy everything felt in the United States. On my way home I had a layover in the Atlanta airport. I had dozens of gluten-free options in the airport, and could get clean drinking water from the bathroom sinks.

Despite my life feeling so much easier, I miss my life back in Argentina. I miss my host mom, Mónica, and my abroad friends. I miss my daily routines and the people I would encounter along the way, and I miss my favorite Argentine dishes. I miss the freedom of not having to worry about jobs or the future, but focusing solely on getting by on a day-to-day basis in a completely different world. But most of all I feel grateful that I went and learned how to feel comfortable with discomfort.

My name is Sophia Padilla, and I’m a third year majoring in Spanish. I studied abroad in Valencia, and it quickly became my home. Throughout the year I mastered the art of cooking authentic paella, I learned how to communicate well in Spanish, and I adopted the mentality of “No pasa nada.” One of my favorite memories was introducing my host sisters to funfetti cake mix and making a birthday cake for my host mom. I cherish these small moments that I was able to experience as a result of actually living in Spain. While living in Valencia, I passed the beautiful plazas every day on the way home from my service learning internship. The río was where I ran every week, and Siete Panes was the coffee shop next to the school where I often had tea and tostadas. The people I met there became my second family, and the beautiful landmarks, my backyard.

My name is Madeleine Paradis and I am a 4th-year anthropology major. My year abroad in Rome, Italy provided me with amazing opportunities different from anything I could have done in Charlottesville. I was able to appreciate both the ancient and modern wonders of Italy just during a 30 minute walk. Through my program, Temple University in Rome, I took classes that consisted of site visits around Rome. Being able to use the entire city as a classroom was incredible – I realized that learning art history onsite is a much more memorable and meaningful experience. I lived with a host family, allowing me to achieve fluency in the language, while enjoying authentic Italian meals with them. All of these experiences were made possible through opportunities not available in Charlottesville. I hope that my newfound knowledge through my year abroad, as well as my many new friends, will provide me with future opportunities to live, study, and/or work abroad.

My name is Mary Beth Robards, and I’m a fourth year double major in Global Security and Justice and French. Education abroad is about shedding the tourist mentality in order to experience your foreign surroundings to the fullest extent possible. The transition from tourist to an active cultural participant doesn’t happen overnight, but education abroad is one of the most rewarding ways to make that transition. It happens in little moments, like when I used the word “quilombo,” in a conversation with my host mom. This word is an Argentine term that means something along the lines of “hot mess.” She started cracking up, and said she was very tickled to hear me say “quilombo.” “Divina mi amor,” she said, which translates to “so cute, my love.” It may seem like a trivial story, but over five months, those trivial stories add up to something incredible.

My name is Hanna Shaps, and I’m a fourth year Economics major. I spent the spring 2016 semester studying in Geneva, Switzerland.  Since I’m half French, I had no problem speaking the local language in Geneva, and I loved the confidence it gave me to really integrate into local culture and everyday life.  I got to enjoy the simple pleasures that not every tourist gets to, including my routine of walking past the lake on my way to class and daily trips to the grocery store for fresh ingredients for dinner.  I loved the food so much I collected a cookbook from every country I visited, which totaled nine in my time abroad. I’m happy to tell anyone about my experience abroad, and excited to work with the ISO to help students have as great of an experience as I did!

I am Daisy Xu, a fourth year Media Studies and African American and African Studies double major and I studied abroad the summer of 2015 in Morocco. Studying abroad is different from being a tourist in many ways. Living with a host family was one of the main ways I learned about Morocco. I not only got to know my host parents and their children, but also heard their perspectives on topics such as politics, economy and gender roles in Morocco. Through our frequent conversations, I discovered that Moroccan social customs in fact had a lot of similarities with those in China, where I was born and raised. Finding commonalities reduced the culture shock I initially experienced and made me feel more attached to Morocco. If I were a tourist in a foreign environment, I would have had little or no interaction with the locals, meaning I would not have been able to develop personal relationships with them in a short time.

My name is Michael Young, and I’m a third year double major in History and Economics. My education abroad experiences were vastly different than my education experience in Charlottesville.  Here, my identity as a student is set, but while abroad my identity was much more complex because I was a student but also a foreign visitor. During my first education abroad experience I studied at Oxford, which has a more urbanized environment than Charlottesville.  This urbanization took another step up in Hong Kong, one of the largest cities in the world.  Not only were there fewer students around me, but less Americans, made clear with the lack of English.  However, this allowed me to delve into new environments and learn more about the cultures I was in. I appreciate my experiences abroad because they added something extra I could not have done here in Charlottesville.