Lucia Rodriguez-Alvizo - 2015 Program Participant

Stonehenge in England

Meditating at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England

Why did you decide to study abroad? 

I knew that if I graduated college without studying abroad I would regret it. One of the main reasons I was interested in studying abroad is because I knew that I had learned the most when I was out of my comfort zone and this was the farthest from my comfort zone I could go.

Why did you choose IES Abroad? 

One of the main reasons I chose this program was for the academic and professional opportunities. The courses offered for the program, not including the electives, were credits that went towards my major or minor. One of the highlights of my course opportunities was having the opportunity to take a class at Oxford. Not only did all the classes enhance my academic goals, but I was also able to develop my professional skills. While abroad, the program allowed me to take part in a service learning opportunity, and during my service learning opportunity I was able to develop new skills and understanding of how grant funding is administered.

Sitting on Pont Saint-Michel Bridge in Paris, France

With the Pont Saint-Michel Bridge in Paris, France

What was your favorite part about England?

There is no words that can explain how perfect the locations of the program were. Most of the program was in London which is a beautiful city full of museums, markets, parks, and so much more. London was also a location that made it easy to travel and explore Europe and other countries. From London I was able to take weekend trips to Barcelona, Ireland, Paris, and Morocco. As if London was not enough, the last week of the trip takes you to Jamaica. A combination of two different countries that are beautiful and unique.

What made the program unique? 

What makes the program unique is the ability to take a class at Oxford. Another aspect that makes it unique is the ability to visit two different countries, which allowed us to compare and contrast different topics we explored in the classroom.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff was amazing in helping with anything and everything they could. When I would travel they would give me tips that made it less daunting and as soon as I came back they asked me how it went. Anytime I needed something even if it was someone to hear my thoughts, they were there.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

I would not change anything about my experience because it was more than anything I could have asked for. One thing I wish I would have told myself before I began would be to explore more!

Paris Bridge of Locks

The Paris bridge of locks near the Notre Dame Cathedral

What was an average day like for you?

Although my days varied a little from day to day, the average day included taking one course and sometimes my service learning assignment. Since the British Museum was only three blocks away from IES Abroad Center, I would visit the museum before class; every day I would explore a different room. After class I would go to either grab lunch from a local cafe or go back to the dorms and have a catch up lunch date with my roommate. The rest of the afternoon, on the days I did not have my service learning assignment, was homework time, time to explore the city, and time to engage in local activities.

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program? 

My favorite activity outside the normal day to day schedule of my program was exploring the city. London has so many museums, markets, and parks to visit that I created a bucket list of places I wanted to visit and it was my goal to complete them all. I had chosen to visit hole in the wall places the staff and my coworkers recommended.

What was your accommodation like in London? What did you like about it?

While abroad we lived in student housing that was centrally located. Student housing was not on campus, so that gave it an apartment feel. Being next to Kings Cross station made traveling easy, both in and outside the country. What I liked best about the housing, besides its location, was the activities they hosted.

Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

Obligatory selfie in front of the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris

How has studying abroad impacted your life?

Studying abroad gave me a global perspective on topics that I had been studying at my home school. It also allowed me to compare and contrast different healthcare systems and public health issues. Not only did the program impact me on an academic and professional level, it also impacted me on a personal level. Although stepping out of my comfort zone was a little daunting, during my time abroad I not only discovered a new country, cultures, and food, but ultimately I rediscovered myself. While abroad, I was alone and it was my time to analyze what I valued, thought, and how my experiences shaped me. When I was abroad I took the opportunity to do something that I would have never imagined doing before, and when I saw the results I fell in love with myself again.