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The First Step in a Globally Focused Career

September 9, 2019

Headshot of Margaret Anderson

Headshot of Margaret Anderson
Photo by Phuong Tran, CLAgency student

Margaret Anderson spent spring 2018 in São Paulo, Brazil participating in traveling seminars to the São Paulo state coast, the northern state of Bahia, and to an indigenous village in São Paulo City. She views her learning abroad experience as crucial to bridging the cultural differences that she expects to find in her future career.

Majors: Spanish & Portuguese studies, geography
Graduated: May 2019
Studied abroad in: São Paulo, Brazil, spring 2018

How did you choose your program?

I chose the College of English Transitions (CET) program because it gives students the opportunity to learn about Brazilian culture and society through many lenses. This program allowed students to enroll in a Brazilian university, created traveling seminars around the city and throughout the county, and hosted students in near-campus apartments with fellow Brazilian students.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time abroad?

Some of my favorite memories from my time in Brazil are from the traveling seminar to Salvador da Bahia. This trip illustrated the diverse cultures and histories of Brazil and encouraged us to compare the differences they experienced between the southern state of São Paulo and the northern state of Bahia.

How has studying another language and culture changed the way you approach the world? 

Learning another language has been a definitive part of my undergraduate career. Through a common language, I can connect with people from all over the globe in a way that would not be possible otherwise. Language-learning has pushed me to learn not only about other cultures, but also about my own.

What was challenging about your experience?

Immersive experiences always present challenges, though difficulties are experienced differently by everyone. I struggled to find a balance between exploring the vast city of São Paulo and spending time with my Brazilian roommates. I approached this problem by going to movies, fairs, and meals with my roommates. I found that fostering relationships in a new culture was best met with an open mind and flexibility.

How did your scholarship aid your experience?

Receiving the Spanish and Portuguese Department Study Abroad Scholarship helped me afford to participate in group excursions around the city and country. Support from donors directly impacted my learning experience and I feel extremely grateful for the alumni and friends of the University who believe in the students of today. 

How has learning abroad enriched your life?

My experiences abroad and with language will help me pursue a globally focused career. In an increasingly connected world, these skills will be crucial for bridging cultural differences. In my life, understanding different languages and cultures has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and to be a lifelong learner.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking about studying abroad?

Without a doubt, every student should study abroad! Think about what you want out of your experience, and expect to be challenged. Get excited about all the incredible things you can do and see as a student, and get in touch with others who have lived abroad! 

This interview was conducted by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.