Major: Industrial & Operations Engineering
International Experience: University of Manchester in Manchester, United Kingdom - Winter 2017
Why did you choose to study abroad when/where you did?
I knew when choosing a study abroad location, that I wanted to go to an English-speaking country because I was not that confident with my French abilities from high school. Additionally, I wanted a host university that provided courses that would count towards my engineering degree instead of going into the intellectual breadth classification. Manchester sort of aligned with that, but there are other options that meet that criteria. As far as timing, I knew I wanted to do it before my Junior year because that is when I planned to invest a lot of my time recruiting for internship/full time positions after college. I think the earlier you can do your study abroad experience the better because as you get deeper into your major curriculum and more involved in your student orgs, it becomes more difficult to leave campus.
What was one of the most memorable experiences from your time abroad?
What I enjoyed most from my study abroad experience, was the events put on my host university where all the exchange students for that term had the opportunity to meet with one another. Manchester attracts people from, literally, all corners of the world, so having that plethora of experiences and cultures to learn from in one place, all for the sake of education, was truly invaluable.
What was one of the biggest surprises about the location, culture or other aspects of your program?
I was surprised at how diverse Manchester was from a nationality perspective. It gave me an entirely new lens as to what diversity is because a lot of times we look at only the nuances among Americans at the fault of ignoring those of all the other countries in the world.
How do the skills and experience you gained abroad set you apart as a professional engineer?
I think a study abroad experience just puts you in a vulnerable position where everyone knows what's going on except for you and in some cases you might not be able to explain any of your difficulties because of a language barrier. Language aside, I think studying in a different country flexes your ability to communicate effectively to a wider range of people because when you enter industry, you won't always be talking to another engineer. Improving your ability to communicate your ideas to different audiences is very critical in industry and a necessity while abroad.
What advice would you like to give to a student interested in an international experience?
Just go for it! Utilize the resources on campus to answer any questions, but ultimately an international experience is invaluable and something that I believe everyone should have.
If you were involved in any clubs or sports, did you feel like you missed out by studying abroad?
To an extent I do think I missed out in some of the clubs that I participate with on campus, however, I made it a mission to find similar clubs or develop new interests while I was abroad which I could then take back with me to campus. I also wanted to pursue leadership positions in my clubs for the following academic year and luckily the organizations that I'm involved with were accommodating of that during the election process.