Bearkats Abroad | Sam Houston State University

Check out the experiences of our Bearkats during their study abroad experiences! For more pictures and announcements, Follow us on Instagram @SHSUStudyAbroad and read our Study Abroad Blog: shsustudyabroad.wordpress.com!


Meet the Bearkats

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Karina Diaz - South Korea

Karina Diaz

South Korea

Soonchunhyang University, Exchange, Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

While looking at the different study abroad programs that Sam Houston offered South Korea grabbed my attention. The program offered good benefits and classes with my major.

What types of courses did you take?

I was able to take criminal justice courses such as “policing, understanding juvenile offenders, crime and accident case studies etc. I also took Korean language classes and politics courses.

Were there any significant difference taking university courses at an institution abroad in comparison to the US?

Yes, the education system and way of teaching is completely different. The US focuses more on professors teaching and explaining lectures as of Korean courses focus more on group projects and teaching one another.

Was your experience academically rewarding?

Was your experience academically rewarding?

What was your housing situation? How did this affect your experience?

The foreign students were all housed in a dorm called “Global Village” I had a Korean roommate and shared my dorm suite with eleven other foreign and Korean girls. I believe that the housing situation did affect my experience in a good but also in a bad way. I was able to meet other foreign students and also got the opportunity to make Korean friends. However, by having all the foreign students bundled up did not really give me the chance to meet other students from the university. Language wise I was unable to fully embrace the Korean language due to the fact that English was spoken more due to all the foreign people living in one dorm.

Did you make any new friends?

Yes, I was able to meet many amazing people from all around the globe.

Were you able to do any traveling?

Yes I was, during their chuseok celebration I was able to travel to Japan.

Did you face any culture shock or other challenges while abroad?

Overall Korea is an amazing country however they are still relatively new on including foreign people into their society.

What was your favorite aspect of your study abroad experience?

I was able to explore the Korean culture and get to visit many places. Being able to meet many amazing people and creating lifelong relationships was one of my best experiences abroad.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

Take the leap of fate and study abroad. This will be a one in a lifetime opportunity that will last a lifetime. Visit as many places and meet as many people as possible while you study abroad. Don't close yourself to new opportunities and explore as much as you can while you have the chance.

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Caden Austin - Japan

Caden Austin

Japan

Economics, Faculty-led, Summer 2019

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

I have always wanted to study abroad and that was one of my goals after transferring to SHSU. After asking around, I was told that Tokyo is an amazing experience and I'm glad I chose it.

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

Being an outsider is definitely a fear. That fear went away after spending a little time with the students and realizing how accommodating and welcoming everyone is.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I wish I had studied a little more functional Japanese. Luckily, I met some friends that spoke English and Japanese so I usually had a translator with me.

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

I enjoyed the Japanese language class. We had a lot of fun and learned new phrases and words.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

Going to Tochigi for the night. We were able to hike, swim in a river and relax in the beautiful, natural side of Japan.

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

Trying to catch up on sleep for the first week. It takes a while to compensate for the jet lag.

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

The genuine kindness. On my second day, I was on the phone walking down the sidewalk and dropped a twenty dollar bill and I didn't notice. A woman riding by got off her bike, picked it up and tapped me on the shoulder to give it back to me.

What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

Shabu-Shabu (Japanese Hot Pot)

How have you changed since your time abroad?

It's definitely given me an itch to travel more now. I feel like the whole experience was eye-opening. Being able to see what is happening on the other side of the world really helps with perspective.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

Do it! Get ready for one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Do not be afraid to interact with the culture! Eat everything, meet everyone and see everything you can.

Caden Austin

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Ariole Jones - Costa Rica

Ariole Jones

Costa Rica

Spanish, Faculty-led, Summer 2019

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

My sister initially was interested in studying abroad and I really knew nothing about it and I figured it was too much money anyways. As the semester came to an end I thought about studying abroad again and I thought it would be a good idea, but I knew I had missed a lot of the deadlines so I hesitated. One day I decided to just do some research and see what I could do. I had planned to take my last Spanish classes during the summer and ironically a faculty-led program was offering both classes simultaneously. So, I spoke with Ms. Hilmersson and I was a bit embarrassed that I had chosen to do this program so late when others were more than halfway done with their payments but I wanted to show her I was serious about going on this trip. Long story short, through prayer and hard work I was able to go and I had the time of my life.

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

Money. I was afraid of not being able to pay for anything but that was the least of my worries there. My family was so supportive and helped me the whole way. I always prayed before and after being there that God would help me and He always came through.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I wish I had familiarized myself with what studying abroad actually was and being better financially planned for it.

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

Well, I only took Spanish so those were my favorite. Compared to SHSU, I wouldn’t have gotten the immersive experience that I got in Costa Rica. Yes, I would have learned the same thing but not in the same way. Because I was somewhere where the majority of people ONLY spoke Spanish, I was forced to learn the language even outside of class.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

Going to Manuel Antonio. I woke up at 4:30. a.m. and stayed on the beach from then until 7.p.m. I learned how to boogie board, I went parasailing, I had smoothies on the beach, and I got to get closer to some amazing people.

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

Definitely the language. At first I could barely say anything to anyone let alone understand them. I was surprised at how fast I picked up the language and even now being back home, it is still a challenge not to lose it.

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

Their life! Being there felt like tapping into a nostalgic part of my memory and living there, but in Spanish. It felt like home and my host family made the experience even better. They reminded me of my own family, even the families of my friends. Everyone was just so loving and that is something I miss. It isn’t exactly like that here in the States.

What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

Torta Chilena. Just about every other day after school we would walk to the panaderia to buy them fresh. They only made them once a day and when it was gone, that was it so we made sure to get there on time. That part felt like childhood when my friends and I would walk to the candy lady’s house to buy Dixie cups (it’s just frozen flavored ice). I’ve been looking for recipes to recreate it but I don’t think I will find anything to compare.

How have you changed since your time abroad?

I see life differently. People there seem to embrace life more and take advantage of the good they have even though it isn’t “pristine” like some places in the states. They are just filled with life and happiness and it has made me want to live a life like that. Coming back, I was thankful to have A/C, automatic hot water, and technology. It seems more of a luxury there but in my opinion their way of living is luxury. I have never enjoyed life the way I enjoyed it their because none of the things I mentioned above mattered. The only thing that mattered was who you were with and just enjoying each moment.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

Be prepared. Also, don’t be too “safe”. They give us precautions to take, so take them, but don’t be scared to do something crazy. You will have the most fun when you step outside of your comfort zone.

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Ariole Jones

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Anh Duong - Japan

Anh Duong

Japan

Economics, Faculty-led, Summer 2019

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

I picked study abroad in Japan through the suggestion of a SHSU alumni. He used to do study abroad in Japan too and now he works in Japan.

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

About staying with my roommates. I am afraid that I don’t get along well with them because culture different. I am not from USA so I am pretty much reserved and shy compare to other American students.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

Bring allergy medicine, you won’t know if you allergy with food in another country.

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

Japanese language class. SHSU doesn’t have Japanese language class.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

Road trip to Tochigi with my class.

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

Culture difference. But since I am Asian from Asia too so the difference gap wasn’t that much between Japan and Vietnam.

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

Very kind, nice, welcoming.

What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

Okonomiyaki and Melon soda.

How have you changed since your time abroad?

Yes. I became more open-minded and willing to learn about other culture.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

Do it. Get more info about study abroad. You definitely won’t regret to go study abroad.

Anh Duong

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Alexus Hardy - United Arab Emirates

Alexus Hardy

United Arab Emirates

Marketing, Faculty-led, December 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

I choose to study abroad because it was one of my goals while attending college. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of traveling and studying at the same time. I chose my specific program because I am a marketing major and it specialized on teaching international business and marketing practices of another culture.

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

The long flights were my biggest fear. I ended up sleeping through majority of both, so they weren’t as bad as I expected.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

Nothing to be honest. Dr. Ahmed made sure we were very prepared before departure and throughout the trip.

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

During my program we didn’t have classes. We went to business meetings, cultural visits, and sightseeing. My favorite “class” visit was our meeting with the Dubai Women’s Business Council at the Chamber of Commerce. I learned so much about the roles women hold in Dubai, their goals, and objectives for the near future.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

This is a hard one, because I made so many. I guess I’ll have to choose and say that my best memory was watching the sunset in the desert after sand duning. It was so beautiful and the climax of our trip.

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

My biggest challenge was adjusting to the time change. I had to take a nap every day!

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

We stayed in a hotel. My favorite aspects were the freshly squeezed juice every morning and the polite staff that always help us call a taxi and made sure the driver knew where we were headed.

How have you changed since your time abroad?

Since my time abroad, my perceptions of the Middle East has changed. I’m also inspired to continue to travel internationally.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

My advice is to take advantage while you can. Once you’re there, openly embrace the culture, the food, the people, and the knowledge. It’s a great opportunity and you should make the most of it. It is by far one of the greatest decisions that I’ve made since I was in college. I wish I could go on another study abroad trip. I miss my time away, but wouldn’t redo the same trip because it was perfect.

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Alexander Dodd - Mexico

Alexander Dodd

Mexico

History, Faculty-led, Summer 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

I chose to study abroad upon the offer I received from Dr. Charles Heath. Study abroad allows students a physical experience where they can observe the history first-hand.!

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

My biggest fear about studying abroad is student health and safety while studying in another country. Dr.Heath and Dr. Littlejohn helped answer our questions before we left for our trip. Along the way they took all necessary steps to make sure everyone stayed healthy and safe.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I wish I could pack better than I do. My suitcase is not very big and I tend to under-prepare for trips. I wish I had added more than what I thought would be necessary.

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

My favorite classes abroad were the ones that allowed us to climb temples and practice observation and interpretation. We really got to engage with the history.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

My best memories from study abroad were looking out from the top of a temple and seeing the Spanish-style roads and houses. It really showed how much Spaniards changed the landscape.

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

The biggest challenge abroad was communicating with other people. There are plenty of people who spoke Spanish,but it can really deepen the experience with a basic knowledge of their language.

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

My favorite aspect of the host culture is the food. Foods such as corn, tamales, chapulines, etc. have history and provide excellent benefits. In other words, there is good reason for their consumption.

What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

I enjoyed the chapulines, or grasshoppers, even though most North Americans are disgusted at the thought. I don’t have to miss them anymore because I found out they are available on Amazon!

How have you changed since your time abroad?

I’ve become a more refined individual based on my experiences. Its humbling to consider how similar we are with only minor cultural differences.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

I would recommend that you do not stress out. Have fun, study hard, and take lots of pictures!

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Patrick Quinn - Germany

Patrick Quinn

Leipzig, Germany

German, interDaf, Summer 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you pick your program?

I chose to study abroad because I had never been out of the country before so I thought it would be an unforgettable experience! It was the only program available for German students so I didn’t have a choice!

What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

Honestly, my biggest fear was being thousands of miles away from my family in unfamiliar territory in a foreign country. However, I soon realized that everything was going to be just fine because I was with other people in my same situation.

What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I wish I had been better at speaking German before going, but I did the best I could!

What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to SHSU?

The classes I took abroad were pretty great, but they were a bit more culture oriented than SHSU’s. So, we learned more by speaking to each other and natives.

What is one of your best memories from abroad?

One of my best memories is getting to go visit Prague with some of my friends on a free weekend!

What was your biggest challenge abroad?

Obviously, my biggest challenge was speaking the language!! Also, getting around on the Tram system. It was kind of confusing at first.

What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

My favorite aspect of the German culture was the food to be totally honest! They make great food.

What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

I gotta say, I really really miss the bratwurst and schnitzel. Yeah, you can get it here but it’s just so tasty and authentic in Germany.

How have you changed since your time abroad?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed per say, but I’ve become more open to traveling and definitely more cultured.

What is your advice to prospective Bearkats Abroad?

My advice? HAVE FUN! Don’t let your fears turn you away from the opportunity of a lifetime.

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Aris Lopez - Slovenia

Aris Lopez

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Management and Marketing, University of Slovenia, Fall 2017

"Many people haven’t heard of or know where Slovenia is, and I’m glad because I got the opportunity to show my friends and family a country that’s full of wonders. I lived and studied in the capital Ljubljana which translates to “the loved one”. The students I met at the University of Ljubljana will always be in my heart, and what I’ll take away from this experience is the ability to work well with individuals from all over the world. Love sLOVEnia"

Aris

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Ben Blume - Switzerland

Ben Blume

Bern, Switzerland

Business and German, University of Bern, Fall 2017

"I studied in Bern, Switzerland at Bern University for Fall 2017. I was in the Business and German program there. I took 2 economics classes and a course in German. Being in the capital of Switzerland for almost 4 months gave me a once in a life time opportunity to see places I'd dreamed of. I was able to study and go to classes as well as travel with my new friends from all over the world almost every weekend to see somewhere amazing like hike in the Alps or tour Venice by boat and even see a beautiful sun set off the coast of Malta."

Ben Blume

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Sierra Trambaugh - Italy

Sierra Trambaugh

Italy

Food and Culture/Honors, Faculty-led, Summer 2017

"Studying abroad allows you to immerse yourself in a different culture. You learn a whole lot about yourself and the world around you. I recommend everyone study abroad, it's a life changing experience!"

Sierra Trambaugh

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Olivia Torre - England

Olivia Torre

London, England

Developmental Psychology, Race and Criminal Justice, Foundations of Sociology, and London: Art, History and Society, ISA, Fall 2016

"Studying abroad was one of the best experiences of my life, and definitely a highlight of my academic career. I learned a lot about myself, while fully immersing myself in another culture. My favorite part of the experience was being able to do a lot of exploring and traveling to other countries such as Spain, Scotland, and Ireland."

Olivia

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Audrey Crase - South Korea

Audrey Crase

South Korea

Korean, Communications, and Psychology, Soonchunhyang University, Spring 2017

"My study abroad experience in Korea was absolutely amazing! I fell in love with the language, culture, food, and stunning scenery. The program is for international students, so I made lifelong friends with students from all over the world, not just Korea. Students are paired with Korean students to live with and have exchanges with, making the experience even more immersive. There are many opportunities to get involved on campus and to meet new people. It is also really easy and inexpensive to travel around the country so I felt I definitely got the most out of the study abroad experience. Korea is known for its shopping, nightlife, and street food so there was always something to do outside of classes. My favorite parts of the semester were the Buddhist Lantern Festival and my trip to Jeju Island! My semester abroad helped me gain independence and I would have loved to stay longer. I recommend that everyone studies abroad, especially with this program!"

Audrey

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Mary Ryding - Switzerland

Mary Ryding

Switzerland

French, University of Lausanne, Fall 2014

"Lausanne, Switzerland was absolutely mind-blowing. The country itself is breathtaking and I loved the people, the culture and food! While attending this school I was in a program for all the international students and we went on hikes in the Swiss Alps. One of my favorite hikes was Aletsch Glacier. We also visited a vineyard and went skiing in the Alps. Based on my wonderful experiences, I hope to be back in Switzerland very soon! J'amie Suisse!"

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Study Abroad
Picture of Malin Hilmersson Malin Hilmersson
Study Abroad Coordinator
malin@shsu.edu 936.294.3276 Farrington 116C Make an appointment