Galina Bruckner - Program Participant

Why did you decide to study abroad?

When I moved to Minneapolis, I was having a difficult time getting to know other people and fitting in. I’ve always had an adventurous spirit, and I decided that studying abroad would give me an opportunity to meet amazing individuals (which I did). I also grew up in a rather close-minded environment, where my eyes were never opened to real world issues of racism and discrimination. When I moved away from home, I realized that I was raised to believe that all the people of the U.S. have equal rights. Studying abroad forced me to see the reality of not only our situation in the U.S., but also in countries around the world.

Why did you choose your programs?

I have done two semester programs through CGE Mexico: Crossing Borders and Migration & Globalization. As a Cross-cultural Studies major, I don’t believe a better study abroad program exists that would fulfill my search for connections and interactions between cultures, since I lived the experience every day. Like all CGE programs, all of my learning was experiential, which is how I thrive best as a student. Rather than sitting through endless lectures and reading out of textbooks, we became involved within the community of Cuernavaca. We spoke with activists and people involved with LGBTIAQ, the environment, women’s rights, peace workers, politics, religion, and economics. Not only did I gain knowledge about Mexico, but also an entirely new understanding of my own culture.Before doing my academic year in Cuernavaca, I got to trek Mexican mountains for 11 days with CGE on a travel seminar! There will be other mountain treks – look out for them!

What makes the program you participated in so interesting?

In both Crossing Borders and Migration & Globalization, I faced challenges and obstacles unlike any others. Although Mexico is the neighbor to the U.S., it is a different world completely. It was difficult to face hard truths about the politics and economic strategies of the U.S., which affect far more countries in the world that just our own. However, I would not exchange the experience for any other, and I now feel well-informed about my own country’s strategies and the consequences that they bring. Above all, the professors, students, and community of CGE are what made the experience incredible.

What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?

Students should know that doing a program with CGE will change your life completely (in the best way possible, in my case). Your view of the world will change, but this will open up the chance to meet amazing people and get involved in a caring and passionate community. It sounds so cheesy, but if you come in with an open mind and an open heart, only the most beautiful things can happen.

What’s one thing you would have done differently?

Honestly, this is a difficult question, because there isn’t one thing I regret or one experience that I would take back. It took some time getting into the groove of being social and involved here in Cuernavaca. I would recommend that students reach out and explore as much as they can and as quickly as possible. CGE is great about providing resources and information for students to get involved in the community.

Now that you’re home, how has study abroad impacted your life?

I fell in love so much with Mexico and CGE that I haven’t gone home yet! A CGE travel seminar encouraged me to sign up for a semester in Mexico, which led to a full academic year abroad, which led to a once-in-a-lifetime internship opportunity! I will be deeply saddened when my time comes to return home at the end of the summer. I know that reintegration in the U.S. will be a great challenge, due to the fact that my life has changed immensely, while the lives of my friends and family have gone on changing while I have been abroad. However, I plan on sharing my experiences with every opportunity I get, and will recommend CGE Mexico to any person who is looking for an unforgettable adventure!