Education Abroad, U.Va.

Education Abroad

A Division of the International Studies Office

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Interns & Outreach Liaisons

Want to help promote education abroad? Want to learn more about International Education? Apply to be an Intern with the ISO! Applications for 2018-19 will open in late spring.

Meet the 2017-18 Group

Josh Bicer

My name is Josh Bicer and I'm a fourth year studying Economics and Government, with a minor in Spanish. I studied abroad twice last summer, the first half in Valencia, Spain, and the second half at Oxford University. I also worked as an intern for the US State Department at the US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany this past summer. Education abroad has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was introduced to new opportunities, people, and ideas that I never would have been exposed to before. Whether it was celebrating with Spaniards after Real Madrid just won the Champions League or discussing Brexit with Brits over tea just days before the vote, I was amazed at all the new adventures I had from my time overseas. The education I received extended far beyond the classroom. I came back with more confidence in myself, stronger independence, and a new sense of excitement to continue to travel and learn internationally.

Rachel Elder

My name is Rachel Elder and I am a 3rd year student studying Biomedical Engineering. Last summer I studied abroad in China through UVA in Shanghai. I became involved in Chinese for the first time at UVA my first year, but I can honestly say I learned more in my study abroad than in my entire two years of classes here at UVA. Initially on coming to UVA, I had no expectations of studying abroad or learning a foreign language. I was lucky to have travelled extensively with my family to over seven foreign countries on three separate trips and had thought to focus on my studies here on grounds at UVA. After joining the Chinese program, I fell in love with the style, history, and culture of the Chinese language. Studying in Shanghai for two months is such a rich experience and I do not believe I would be where I am today in my language and relationship skills if I had chosen a less intense program or earned the credits on grounds. I learned so much about my own limits and abilities, and now seriously consider working in China after graduation.

Carmen Garcia

Hi, my name is Carmen Garcia and I'm a fourth year double majoring in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature/Culture. My spring semester of 2017 I had the amazing and unique opportunity of studying at the University of Havana in Havana, Cuba with Spanish Studies Abroad. While in Cuba, I gained such a different perspective both politically and socially, and also fell hopelessly in love with this beautiful island. My classmates and professors were all Cubans rather than other American students (of which there were only seven others), so I was lucky enough to forge lasting relationships with many of my peers and faculty. Between my personal conversations and class research, I gained extensive knowledge on the Cuban revolution, special period, and US/Latin American relations and immigration; my immersion program allowed me to lives as a true Cuban for five months. Although at times I felt out of my comfort zone, it was such a rewarding experience and am happy to have returned to UVA a better student because of my time abroad!

Alex Harden

My name is Alex Harden and I’m a fourth year studying Environmental Science. In July 2016, I began my experience abroad by attending an independent program called the Transatlantic Academy on Sustainability in both Bremen and Hamburg, Germany. Through this, I was introduced to a number of global sustainability initiatives, including Germany’s transition to renewable energies, while studying alongside German and American students. Following this, I travelled to Lampedusa, Italy, where I worked in a sea turtle research and rescue center. During my time there, I was able to study plastics in sea turtle digestive tracts, perform necropsies and x-rays, and give tours of the center to English-speaking visitors. I even had the chance to release a rehabilitated turtle into the Mediterranean! My semester-long courses began in September when I moved back to Germany and studied under IES’s Germany: Freiburg program on Environmental Studies and Sustainability. This provided me an incredible hands-on opportunity to study forest ecology on site in the Swiss Alps, sustainable city planning by studying Freiburg itself, and was introduced to Geographic Information Systems – all while taking night courses to improve my German language skills. My summer and fall abroad was as an invaluable supplement to my studies here at UVA and accelerated my ability to speak German. At the end of this year, I hope to permanently move back to Germany so I can pursue a career in the environmental field while continuing my cultural exploration as a young professional, and my experience abroad makes me confident in my ability to do so.

Edgar Hoover

My name is Edgar Hoover and I studied abroad at the Technical University of Berlin in the Spring of 2016. As a mechanical engineering student with aspirations of driving technological innovation in the automotive industry, studying abroad in Germany provided invaluable insight into other teaching methods and approaches to engineering than I was previously accustomed to. The experiences that I made both inside and outside of the classroom opened my eyes to many international perspectives on engineering and gave me a solid foundation for continuing my studies or working in Germany. If I had not studied abroad, I would have missed out on public viewings of German Euro Cup soccer matches at the Brandenburg Gate along with thousands of other soccer fans, which is an experience that cannot be matched even to the slightest degree by any sporting event in Charlottesville.

Tiffany Jenkins

My name is Tiffany Jenkins; I’m a fourth year double majoring in Spanish and Global Security in Justice! I participated in the UVA in Valencia program during the fall of 2015. As someone who had never been out of the country before, everything was new to me. If I decided not to go to Valencia, my world would have stayed so small. I was able to learn the intricacies of a new city and culture, better my Spanish, and make memories that will honestly last a lifetime. I wouldn’t have been able to travel to over 15 different cities in five different countries during the semester if I had stayed at UVA. The connections I made and the experiences I had are unattainable by staying at a university within the country, even one as great as UVA. You can sign up for a language course or read about a culture at the university, but nothing can compare to learning to cook a Spanish tortilla from your host mom or trying real horchata for the first time with your new Spanish friends. Without participating in the Valencia program, as cliche as it may sound, I would not be the same person as I am today.

Peyton Johnson

Hi my name is Peyton Johnson and I am a fourth year who studied abroad in Valencia, Spain spring semester of 2017. Part of the reason that I actually chose UVA was because the UVA in Valencia program specifically. I am studying Biology with a minor in Spanish and am on the pre-med track so for me studying abroad in Spain had a lot of benefits. Because Spanish is such a widely spoken language in the U.S. I wanted to improve my language abilities so that I will be able to better communicate with future patients. Further, because the U.S. is such a multicultural society, the cultural competency and literacy that you acquire while studying abroad is something that can’t be matched to the same degree remaining at home. For me, studying abroad in Valencia helped not only my language and communication abilities, but also it has taught me to interact with people of other cultures which will be important in my future career aspirations.

Sophia Padilla

My name is Sophia Padilla, and I’m a fourth year majoring in Spanish. I studied abroad in Valencia for my entire second year, 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.

Melaina Pope

My name is Melaina Pope and I am a 3rd year majoring in Statistics. Studying at the National University of Singapore has allowed me to become even more inspired to achieve my academic and career goals. The academic environment in Singapore was one that was very focused, and the social atmosphere was one of great understanding for many cultures. Not only have I gained valuable insight into what it is like to understand others from different cultures, I have also become more independent and open-minded, which are important qualities for an increasingly global marketplace. Living in Singapore and being in awe walking through the financial district where the lit up skyscrapers towered and shone above me, allowed me to renew my sense of determination to pursue my major in Statistics and my entrepreneurial pursuits, so that I may create a positive change for the world.

Sarah Rupert

My name is Sarah Rupert and I’m a fourth year majoring in Foreign Affairs and French. I spent the Spring 2017 semester abroad in Rabat, Morocco on the “UVA in Morocco” program. I lived with a host family, which was an incredibly rewarding experience in terms of both what I learned about Moroccan culture as well as the relationships I formed. My time in Morocco was not without its challenges, but these challenges -- ranging from what to do if a camel pees on you to gender role expectations -- enabled me to grow as a person and has prepared me for some of the challenges I’ll encounter in the “real world” post-college!

Sam Spadaccini

My name is Sam Spadaccini and I am a fourth year Spanish and American Studies major. One of my greatest passions is meeting and getting to know new people. I live for these moments in which I can connect with someone no matter where they are from or the language they speak. If I had not participated in education abroad in Valencia, Spain for the semester, I would have missed out on befriending some of the most interesting and meaningful people I have ever met. From the start, I decided to integrate myself into the city of Valencia. Going in with a basic knowledge of Spanish, I never imagined coming back to the US with an incredible network of friends from Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, and Mexico to name a few. After taking my literature and history classes at the UVA Center and completing my internship in translation at the University of Valencia, I would go to a café downtown where I perfected my Spanish chatting with locals and helping the staff close. There wasn’t a more effective way for me to learn the language between the classroom experience and the way in which I became a true resident of the city. After going back to see my friends this summer, I have decided to return to Spain post-graduation to teach English. No matter your destination, I promise that if you go in with an open mind and heart, the hardest part about education abroad will be waving goodbye to your new city and the many friendships you have forged.

Katey Summers

My name is Katey Summers, and I am a fourth year double majoring in Latin American Studies and Global Development Studies. If I had not participated in education abroad, I would have missed out on multiple and varied opportunities for personal, academic, and professional growth. One of the most important lessons I learned from abroad is how important it is to face situations that scare or frighten you. Prior to each of my three study abroad experiences, I departed with a mix of fear, excitement, and uncertainty. Despite having travelled on my own and in groups before, uprooting myself for months at a time and diving into unfamiliar environments taught me a tremendous amount about myself and society. I learned how I adapt to new environments, how to build networks and communities of people in foreign environments, how important alone time and time for reflection is, and how I like to travel and explore new cultures. Through my experiences in Argentina, I was able to build my confidence with the Spanish language through interactions in class, on the streets, and with my host mother. In Sweden and India, I learned how to communicate despite differences in language proficiencies, and how to work on projects and in environments with different professional and academic structures than I am used to. If I had not participated in education abroad, I would not have met people from many different countries and learned about their experiences, and I would not have gained cultural awareness inside foreign walls, classrooms, or professional spaces. I feel so much more prepared to enter a career overseas, whether it be working for a non-profit or in a classroom teaching English, thanks to the experiences I had and many challenges I overcame while on my education abroad experiences.

Jillian Tidlow

Hello, my name is Jillian Tidlow. I’m very excited to be an intern this coming year as my experiences abroad have been instrumental in shaping my plans for the future. I spent the summer of 2016 in Shanghai on the U.Va in Shanghai: Chinese program to improve my Chinese and to experience a very different culture from my native American culture. The following summer I went to Ghent with the U.Va in Belgium: Acoustic Phonetics. Although these programs are very different in many ways they both helped me grow as a person and helped shape the kind of choices I will make in the future. These programs were so formative because they helped me fully realize my independence. The confidence that going abroad has given me have helped me so much in planning what I would like to do in life. Where before, I would have shied away from carriers that required a lot of independence and uncertainty.

Jane Wall

My name is Jane Wall and I am a fourth year double majoring in Politics and Spanish. Studying abroad in Valencia, Spain was essential for my personal growth and will definitely help me succeed in my professional aspirations post-graduation. If I had not participated in the UVA in Valencia education abroad program, I would not have realized how capable I am of entering new environments and excelling in unfamiliar work conditions. While in Valencia, I had the opportunity to participate in a service learning internship where I taught conversational English at a local school. Entering a new environment was always something that had intimidated me—however now, I realize that I can thrive even in the most unfamiliar settings, such as adapting to a new school system taught in a foreign language. I learned that professionals, even those from a different culture than my own, value people who put in effort and demonstrate an eagerness to work hard. This is a lesson that I can now take with me as I pursue my career in education policy post-graduation. This experience taught me the value of hard work in a new culture, and how to be culturally competent when engaging with new people—both skills that are essential in our globalized multi-cultural workforce. I have already found that this newfound confidence and maturity has fostered success in both my academics and in my summer internship at the U.S. Department of Education. I am so grateful for my education abroad and the confidence and newfound skills I acquired to pursue my career and passion for education!

Jane Wilkinson

My name is Jane Wilkinson and I am fourth year double majoring in Global Security and Justice and German Studies. I spent January of 2015 in Berlin, Germany with UVA in Berlin, and spent Spring 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. For me, studying abroad was about gaining a competitive edge in the working world. My program actually had an internship component, and I was able to work with an international NGO that did advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council. I had my very own UN badge that gave me access to the Palace of Nations and other UN buildings in the area. Outside of professional advancement, I also had the chance to meet professionals and students from all different backgrounds. I interacted with students from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and other places that I have never been to. My study abroad experience not only gave me familiarity with Swiss culture, it gave me an understanding of cultures all around the world. I would not be nearly as prepared to take on a global job if I had decided to stay at UVA for the semester instead.