I am originally from New York City and my parents were immigrants from China in the early 90s. Prior to coming to Berea, I have lived in a bustling city, a rural small town in China, and the rolling hills of Virginia. As a child, my dream was to go to college one day, a privilege that my parents did not have. On top of being highly encouraged to pursue an undergrad degree, my mom has instilled the value of a strong work ethic in me. Post Berea, I hope to travel and attend grad school. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, learning different languages and cooking!
My Study Abroad Experience:
I studied abroad this past semester, spring 2015, in Alicante, Spain. My decision to study abroad was not an easy one. I did not think I would have enough money, I was not sure where to do, and when to go. However, I did know that time abroad would be exactly what I need to complete my college experience. After talking to fellow Berea College students that have gone abroad, I decided that I should see the world, even if it meant taking out a large loan. Fortunately, a year post my decision to study abroad, I am beyond content with my choice to study in Spain and I did so with the help of the GEO scholarship from Berea and the Gilman scholarship, leaving me only a small amount of loan.
When I was deciding on where to go, one of my friends told me to go where I want to live and not where I would be content to just travel. That helped me so much because I wanted to see so many places around the world but in reality, I wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country in Europe where I could travel to other European countries so that really narrowed it down to Spain.
On January 9, 2015, I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Alicante, little did I know the impact that this medium-size city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea would leave such an impression on me. I started out as the quiet girl who went to a college that no one had heard of in the middle of Kentucky, all my classes were in Spanish, and I was living in a new environment with a different culture. Everything seemed that much scarier to me but to my surprise, Alicante felt like home in just a short amount of time; I had a distinct route that I took to walk home, I knew all the baristas at my coffee shop, I greeted the same neighbors every morning as I run out to catch the tram- I had my own routine.
During my time abroad, I was able to take 5 courses in Spanish, lived with an amazing host family, travel to other countries, paraglide on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, zip line from Spain to Portugal, visit most of the major cities in Spain and even attend a Barcelona soccer game; I have had an amazing journey. One of them most incredible experience of my abroad trip that was made possible because of the Gilman scholarship was my Camino de Santiago or St. James’s Way. A group of students from my study abroad program and some of our professors embarked on this five-day pilgrimage in the region of Galicia, Spain. We started our pilgrimage in Sarria and ended in Santiago de Compostela, where St. James was buried. Through this 75 miles walk, I learned a lot about my companions or “pilgrims” as we were called and a lot about myself. We supported each other through every step, laughed at every funny joke and the never-ending singing of Disney songs, cried through the pain of blisters, sunburn, and other wounds and sometimes literally carrying each other but we made it and we made it together. The Camino made me realize so much more about who I am, what I shared with other and who I want to become.
It’s extremely challenging to summarize everything that I have experienced in the five months that I was abroad but I do know that I do not regret any minute of it. I was able to see parts of the world that I never dreamed of ever seeing, I learned so much about other cultures and people, I experienced things that I did not think I had the courage to do and I learned so much about myself. And to think that all that would not have been possible without Berea College and the Gilman scholarship.
If you are interesting in hearing more about my adventures abroad, you can click on the link below to access my blog. Thanks for reading!