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Students talk about their study abroad experiences

Photo courtesy of Carlsky Belizaire Carlsky Belizaire, a QC alum, went to Peru as part of Queens College's study abroad program. Other places students can go include Japan, Italy and France.
Photo courtesy of Carlsky Belizaire
Carlsky Belizaire, a QC alum, went to Peru as part of Queens College’s study abroad program. Other places students can go include Japan, Italy and France.

Queens College students have the opportunity to take part of the college’s study abroad program, where anyone can travel and study in different parts of the world.

The Education Abroad Office offers a wide range of choices. Students can join programs that last a month, a semester or an entire academic year.

The college signed agreements with universities across the world—like in Europe and the Middle East—to encourage students to experience different cultures.

Three QC students shared their study abroad experiences. All expressed satisfaction, but not without times of difficulties.

Carlsky Belizaire is a QC alum that graduated last year. He now teaches English in Taiwan as part of the U.S. government’s Fulbright Scholar Program.

Before that, in his senior year, he decided to study in Peru for three weeks. Apart from making new friends and gaining valuable memories, Belizaire recognized the trip’s importance in shaping his opinion about the world.

“People around the world have different traditions, values and ways of doing things,” Belizaire said. “It is always thrilling to learn from these people, and I think doing so has expanded my worldview.”

Belizaire traveled to Japan and China before going to Peru. But he wanted to explore the world even more.

“The memories you make abroad are priceless,” Belizaire said.

Excitement from traveling to a foreign land is only part of the story. Some students use the trip to plan their future. The experience abroad makes many students view their capabilities from a new perspective.

Virginia Lee, a junior majoring in textiles and apparel, is now studying at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy. This is the first time she is living away from her parents in New York.

“The most difficult thing for me was making friends,” Lee said. “FUA doesn’t have a campus. I just didn’t expect it to be so difficult to meet people.”

There are expenses when studying abroad, and it is sometimes a problem for anyone interested in traveling. But the Education Abroad Office offers scholarships and grants to cover travel and tuition fees. Lee received a scholarship for her trip to Italy.

Cindy Yam, a senior majoring in nutrition and dietetics, talked about how her six-week program in South Korea helped her reshape her choice of career. Instead of continuing her program in nutrition and dietetics, she is now exploring the opportunity of being an English teacher in a foreign country.

But there are times when students face hardships that they would not experience at home.

For Yam, besides being at a different comfort level when getting to know new people and culture, she felt the language barrier while in South Korea.

“It was difficult when they asked you questions and you didn’t understand. They looked at me and spoke Korean. It was very stressful because I didn’t know what to say,” Yam said.

Yam saved money for her study abroad trip, but said the trip was worth it.

“It’s not really about the expense,” Yam said. “Yes, money does play a factor, but, when you work over time, you save money and you are able to go.”

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