Engagement on campus:
Participant in Service Learning (Medical Spanish), volunteer at Service Learning Expo (2013-2015)
Research Coordinator, Children’s Hospital (2015)
Location where you studied abroad:
Graduate Summer School (External) in Bergen, Norway.
Describe the location you studied abroad for someone who has never been there.
Bergen is a city of adventure. Located on the western coast of Norway, Bergen offers the exciting feel of a town that is alive and thriving. If you are fan of nature, the many surrounding mountains will lure you in on the challenge to climb them all and experience their beauty. There are endless opportunities to hike, climb, and swim. Because the city is situated so far north, the summer sees Bergen in sunlight for long periods of time, including as much as nineteen hours around the solstice. In the summer, Norwegians spend as much time outside as they can, and you will see many people at the fish market and along the Bryggen historic area. Bring a rain jacket – expect to see some gentle, steady rain on summer days.
Why did you choose your study abroad program?
The academic program provided by the host institution, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, offered a mix of elements that were great for the end of my one-year program in Applied Economics. Norway in particular plays an important role in the world when it comes to natural resources. The course featured distinguished professors from NHH that were experts in their field, and this provided a scope of economics that was only briefly touched upon in our courses at the University of Cincinnati. The opportunity to study first-hand and to take excursions to some of the companies that are central to Norway’s economy, combined with my passion for nature and the outdoors, were the biggest reasons I chose this program offered through UC International.
What was your best memory from your time abroad?
My favorite memory was climbing the Stoltzekleiven path to the top of Mount Sandviken. This is a physical challenge that will leave you breathless and sweating once you get to the top, but the reward of a magnificent view of the harbor of Bergen will immediately make the exhausting effort worth it. Mostly consisting of stone stairs, the exact number of steps has been disputed – the purported count is 801; but rocks in several sections will distort the amount. In any case, this is a popular activity for all Norwegians, and engaging in this climb will make you truly relate to what Norwegians love to do for fun.
Whether it be friendly competition or a personal record you are trying to break, climbing the steps together is an exciting way for you to share the experience of the Norwegian outdoors with your classmates. It was very symbolic for me because I could relate the climb to my experiences in grad school. This year of education is supposed to be difficult and challenging, but above all, rewarding. Nothing was more satisfying than the shared sense of relief reaching the top of the steps and being surrounded by classmates of all backgrounds that were experiencing the same obstacles. Having a bird’s eye view of what we had accomplished, and looking forward to conquering the climb again, shows the true spirit of resilience that I can proudly walk away from this experience with.
How did you afford an international experience?
My international experience was aided by my role as a Graduate Assistant for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning during the 2015-2016 academic year, as well as a generous grant from UC International and a scholarship from the Scandinavian Society of Cincinnati. You too can afford to study abroad! There are resources to help.
How did the course content abroad tie into your program here at UC?
The best part about the one-year program in Applied Economics is that it focuses on topics such as data analysis and urban economics which are relevant for now and the future. We also spend time critically analyzing monetary policy and economic trends at an international level. The course content abroad allowed us in particular to study Norway’s contribution to the world economy, as well as explore environmental and resource policies that affect the environment. Studying climate change from an economic perspective is very important for the future.
Has study abroad changed who you are as a person? If so, in what ways?
Study abroad has prepared me for new ideas and new experiences. It has encouraged me to leave my comfort zone and to seek knowledge wherever I can find it. My learning experience doesn’t end with my degree, and the challenges will get harder, but I am prepared with so many new ways of thinking to solve problems and the motivation to push myself through.
What professional networking did you do while abroad?
I attended the 39th IAEE International Conference, hosted by NHH. This is the International Association for Energy Economics, which occurs in mid- to late-June. The topic I was studying for my final paper was tying the theories of renewables and externalities, and a former student of NHH who had written his PhD defense on this topic was in attendance. It was also great having a chance to explore this topic in Economics with other individuals who were visiting from across the world.
How have you stayed in contact with your classmates and overseas friends since returning to the US?
I have kept in contact with classmates overseas thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn. I have made so many connections who have enjoyed a similar experience and it is great to share not only our adventures in Norway but to also keep in contact with regards to the field of Economics and how we are making a difference.
What is something you learned from studying abroad?
As a young-adult in a foreign land, I recognized that I was an ambassador and a role model – for my peers, my university, and my country. The fact that you have made this decision to study abroad says a lot about you and how you rise to a challenge when it presents itself.
What was your biggest challenge while studying abroad?
The biggest challenge for me while studying abroad was learning how to make the most of our very short course schedule. The trip abroad involves moving into a dorm, a meet-and-greet with all of your classmates, seminars and group assignments, excursions on Saturdays, and a research paper and presentation – all in a two-week timeframe! Adding to this is the weather in Norway, which is beautiful – and the amount of time Norwegians spend outdoors during the summer is amazing. I made the most of each day by getting involved, asking questions, seeking adventure, and not waiting for tomorrow to do what I could today. There is so much opportunity to immerse yourself and make a connection with Norway and those around you, even if your time there is brief.
What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time abroad?
My biggest accomplishment was realizing how resourceful I was. For example, I navigated an entire city by myself when I missed a bus; I carried protein bars in my backpack when my friends and I unexpectedly got lost in the mountains; and I became the unofficial go-to person for first aid needs. I traveled Europe with nothing but the backpack on my back – I didn’t bring more than I needed, and I made use of everything I had. When you are abroad, you adjust, and you learn to make it work.
If you had the chance to study abroad again, what would you do differently?
I would make more connections with my professors. In my program we attended lectures with professors and with graduates of NHH who worked in the energy and resource sectors. Although I am fairly new to these industries, I would do all I could to individually introduce myself and really dig into what they do in their research.
In your opinion, why should every student study abroad?
Every single student should study abroad to be exposed to new ideas and to challenge your current ways of thinking. This is the chance to interact with cultures and with someone whose entire way of life could be completely different from what you are used to. We learn much better when we respect differences and really find out what brings us together.