GSM Spotlights

GSM Spotlight: Katie Ouimette

(3) Katherine Ouimette

 

Year Senior

Major Studio Art

Minor Printmaking

Email katherine.ouimette@uconn.edu

Study Abroad Program University of Melbourne, Australia (Exchange) Spring 2017

What advice would you give your pre-study abroad self?

Save your money!!!! Wings over isn't worth more than a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

How was the academic system in Australia different from being at UConn?

Assignments are very rare, so keeping up on your studies is all on you. I find it is great for exchange, because you can plan a busy week of activities and balance it with a week of completing your studies.

What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

Try everything! Try new foods, new sports, new activities, and really get involved with the locals. They want to learn about us as much as we want to learn about them. Also, traveling around is great but get to know your home city! There are many hidden wonders in all of the cities that we're off to!

What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?

The only place I've really ever known is Storrs! It made me nervous having to know the ins and outs of a new place, but it really does come quickly to you when you're absolutely immersed. Making friends with locals and asking them questions about everything made this experience so much easier.

What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at UConn?

Living and surviving in a city! City living is 100% different, but now I feel more prepared to live on my own in a different place other than my hometown. I also was exposed to so many different types of people.

GSM Spotlight: Lisa Darminova

Year Senior

Major Applied Mathematics

Minor Computer Science

Email lisa.darminova@uconn.edu

Study Abroad Program Hong Kong University (Exchange), Spring 2017

How were the academics different in Hong Kong than in the US?

The academic system itself was pretty similar, except that there is more competition for grades at HKU. It gave motivation to all students to do better while also only basing their grading on competition and not on points received. All in all, it was similar to the US system.

If you could go abroad again, what would you do differently?

Apply to study abroad for a whole year instead of a semester!

What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?

As this trip was my first time in Asia, I was scared to see how I would find the culture. I was scared that i would be stuck in a foreign country and not enjoy it to the full extent. However, HKU and my fellow exchange students all help expose each other to different cultural aspects of Hong Kong and I started loving the city more and more each day.

What was it about your program specifically that fit your personal goals over other programs?

Hong Kong is an amazing city. The city itself is both a concrete jungle and also a normal jungle. While the central business district is huge there, Hong Kong has amazing beaches and hikes that are popular throughout the Hong Kong community. There is definitely something to do every day there! In addition, the location of Hong Kong is so practical in cost efficient traveling to both south east Asia as well as places like Korea, Japan, and China.

How can studying abroad impact your future career?

It shows future employers that you can adjust to new things easily, that you are not afraid of going out of the box, and that you have a positive mindset.

GSM Spotlight: Olivia Villecco

Year Senior

Major Accounting

Minor International Studies

Email olivia.villecco@uconn.edu

Study Abroad Program UConn in Florence, Italy (Faculty-Led), Spring 2017

What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

Have an open mind to try new things and see things from different perspectives. Don’t be judgemental of other cultures. Eat the local food wherever you go. Speak the language, travel often, and savor every moment!

Why did you choose your program?

I wanted a program that enabled me to travel throughout Europe, broaden my knowledge, and just have an unforgettable time. The city of Florence is such a culturally rich city and I was able to take art, food, history, and language classes to immerse myself in it all. I also really liked that my walk to class was down cobblestone streets past the Duomo and not on a confined campus; it made me feel more like a local. The location of Florence allowed us to easily travel all around Europe too.

What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at UConn?

Everything. I could not have learned about the historical intricacies of Michelangelo's David while standing in the Galleria dell'Accademia looking up at the masterpiece if I had stayed at UConn. I could not have developed a rich appreciation for Renaissance art if I had been sitting in a business classroom in Storrs. I could not have traveled to nine different countries, learning about the history of each, experiencing the culture of each, and interacting with the people in each country if I had just stayed at UConn. Studying abroad opened my eyes to so much more in the world.

If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?

Gelato.

Why Study Abroad? And how has it impacted you for your future academics, career and self?

Studying abroad changes a person's outlook on life. For me, studying abroad has ignited my curiosity for new cultures and ways of living, becoming a more well-rounded person. Studying abroad has given me the confidence to navigate through Europe and travel anywhere. I‘ve been bitten by the travel bug, and now I want to plan my life around traveling more.

GSM Spotlight: Michael Costello

Year: Senior

Email: michael.costello@uconn.edu

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Study Abroad Program National University of Singapore (Exchange) Spring 2017 

How can outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

Go into the situation with an attitude of openness and a readiness to learn as much as possible from everything new you experience. Immerse yourself in the culture and try to make as many local friends as exchange friends.

Were you nervous at all before studying abroad?

I was nervous about missing out on experience and friendships at home, but I kept in contact with everyone and kept up to date with the different organizations I was a part of.

What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at UConn?

I was able to experience a very unique country located in a region not too many Americans get to know personally. I had a chance to meet political leaders from ASEAN and the UN and hear them talk about the culture and politics of Southeast Asia from a different perspective than the one I was used to.

If you could give only one reason, why study abroad?

It is very unlikely you will ever have a chance to immerse yourself personally and academically in another country like this outside of college, so take the unique opportunity and I promise you will not regret one second of it.

How has studying abroad changed you?

It has helped me develop as a person, has helped me to meet many different unique and interesting people, and has opened my eyes to a possibility of incorporating a more global approach to my future career aspirations.

GSM Spotlight: Shannon Foley

Year Senior

Major Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Psychology

Minor Cognitive Science

Email shannon.o.foley@uconn.edu

Study Abroad Program University of Nottingham (Exchange), Nottingham, England, Spring 2017

What specific factors influenced your decision to go abroad?

I was never the kind of person who sought out change, and suddenly all I wanted was to be somewhere completely new that was unfamiliar and I would know no one. I decided it was just something I had to go for and not to look back or get afraid of, and it ended up being the best decision I've made since being at UConn. I think it's easy to feel like you're sort of stuck somewhere, and studying abroad definitely gave me the space and freedom to go out and figure out what it was that I wanted and the opportunity to experience education and culture in a whole new way.

How was the academic system in England different than the US?

The academic system there was surprisingly different from what I was used to at UConn. It definitely depends on what your major is and what year classes you take, but at Nottingham my work almost completely consisted of readings, and my final exams made up 100% of my grade. The grading system is also much different, and it's just something you have to get used to when you're here. It is much harder to get a really high grade there, but a 70 is also equivalent to getting an A at UConn. So, if you get a grade back that is something you would be upset about back at home, it probably isn't nearly as bad as you think!

What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

Don't be afraid to try new things! Go places you've never heard of, talk to people everywhere you go, eat something that might sound weird, and step out of your comfort zone a little bit. Just do as much as you can, because the time flies by and soon you'll be flying back home and it will seem silly that you were ever worried about going!

What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at UConn?

As lame as it might sound, I honestly think I got to know myself in a way that I don't think I would have back at UConn. Studying abroad gives you more independence than you have probably ever experienced, and it is really up to you to go out and figure out what it is you want to see, and do, and accomplish. I made more of an effort to meet new people and try new things than I did at UConn, and I definitely gained a clearer understanding of who I am as a person independently and within a group of people. This probably goes without much surprise, but I got to experience so many different cultures through studying abroad than I could ever imagine back at UConn. Traveling throughout Europe you interact with so many different people and learn about the customs and traditions they hold and have the opportunity to really see them in comparison to other places.

If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?

Go for yourself. Really take this opportunity to go somewhere alone and figure out what you like to do. I'm not saying you will go and become a whole new person and figure out so many different things about yourself, but you will be completely independent with no real influence from your friends and family at home for the first time ever probably, and it will be up to you to decide what you want to do with yourself and all your time!

GSM Spotlight: Emma Burns

Year Senior

Major Marketing

Minor Psychology

Email emma.burns@uconn.edu

Study Abroad Program University of New South Wales (Exchange) in Sydney, Australia, Spring 2017

What specific factors influenced your decision to go abroad?

I've always wanted to travel and I didn't think I'd ever get a chance to live in Australia if I didn't go abroad.

 

What advice would you give your pre-study abroad self?

Don't be so worried! It will all work out.

How was the academics or academic system you were apart of differ from UConn (or the US system)?

The academic system was fairly similar to the states, but a few differences were that all of the lectures were recorded, so you could watch them whenever and the grading system was very different. It is average to get in the 60's or 70's for your grades which was very surprising to me at first.

What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

I would tell anybody going abroad to not just stick with the people they went with (if they are going with friends) but to really reach out to as many people as they can and make friends from all different backgrounds and cultures. I would also just tell them not to be stressed about making every single moment a big moment, or every single day a big day. Going away to a place for 3 or more months is a long time, there is no need to stress about making every second of your time huge, you can have relaxing days as well as crazy fun days.

If you could go abroad again, what would you do differently?

If I were to go abroad again I would try even harder to immerse myself in the culture more. Most of the friends I made abroad were other exchange students which was awesome, but I only had a few Australian friends and I would love to have more time to meet more of them.

What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?

I was afraid about finding a place to live and I was afraid about making friends, especially since I wasn't going to be living on campus. I overcame this because I really had no other option than to, but it was awesome because I grew up a lot from it and now I know how to find a place to live in the future! It's amazing when you find out what you are actually capable of. The friends component also happened naturally, it's just like if you were doing your freshman year of college all over again, everybody is in the same boat and everybody is nervous. But you always find your people. I've met my best friend in the world here and I'm so sad to be leaving her.

What was it about your program specifically that fit your personal goals over other programs?

I really wanted to do the UNSW program because it was in Australia which I had always wanted to visit and it was in a city which I wanted to experience living in. I have always been from small towns and UConn is pretty isolated, so I thought it would be a cool experience to do something different.