Study abroad shapes lives

Helen Muddamalle did part of her nursing studies in India.

We spoke with students who have studied abroad and asked them about their experiences.

Giancarlo Chavez Benedictine University senior, international business and economics

What inspired you to study abroad?

I made friends with Spanish and French students, so that made me interested in exploring the world. I had always been business minded, and the international aspect appealed to me.

Where did you go and what did you do there? ?

My sophomore year I went to Costa Rica for one month in the summer. We went to class in the morning, then the afternoon was free. I played soccer with the locals. Being Guatemalan American, there was not much culture shock. I also went to two soccer matches, which were pretty intense. Two hours before the game we couldn't find a seat!

What did you take away from the experience?

My most memorable experience was when I met one of the soccer players and we decided to go out one night. Just talking to him was eye opening. He was so interested in our culture and had the desire to learn more. He told me he didn't have as much opportunity to learn as some others did.

Any other study abroad trips?

I went to China for six months last spring. I studied business and Chinese at Shenyang University of Technology. I was really nervous, as I was the only American. My best friends there were from Russia, Germany, and some Chinese soccer players. Before I went, I had only taken one class in Chinese. I could say 'hello' or 'to eat.' After two months I could communicate in sentences. My girlfriend is Chinese, and she came for the last month, so we traveled. I climbed the most dangerous mountain in China -- Hua Shan.

What are your plans for the future?

One of my skills now is dealing with different cultures and making friends really easily. I can relate to them almost instantly. I would love to work in another country like Brazil, maybe learn Portuguese.

Evangelina Covarrubias Dominican University, senior, International Relations and Spanish Studies

What inspired you to study abroad?

In high school our senior trip was to Italy and Greece. It opened a whole new door.

Where did you go and what did you do there?

In 2009, I went to El Salvador for 10 days. There was a presidential election going on, and I was an election observer. I went to one of the polling places, and I made sure everything was going as it was supposed to. It's a developing country and a developing democracy, and it was the first time an opposition party won.

What did you take away from the experience?

I came back and was so grateful for being born in the U.S. It opened my eyes to be grateful for what we have here, but also to help where we can in developing countries.