Being Abroad

By Sue, a senior majoring in marketing and minoring in English
Photo Courtesy of Sue Alley

Growing up, I dreamt of traveling all over the world and seeing all the things I read about in my travel books. Over the past three years, my dreams have become a reality. I’ve met people from all over the world through living in the Global Village. I have traveled to visit many of these people in their home countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, Austria, and France. I have studied abroad in both Denmark and Germany and even volunteered abroad in Denmark. All my experiences being in the GPC program have had an impact on me, but my time abroad is what shaped who I am today.

Studying Abroad at the ESB Business School in Reutlingen, Germany

Living abroad for the first time is daunting. Being thrown into a new and unfamiliar place for four to six months isn’t easy. Before living in Germany, I was living in a dorm with a meal plan. I had never cooked for myself or had to sign an apartment lease. I had never even been to Europe! Was I a little scared? Yes, but it was something I had always dreamed of doing, so I knew that I had to step up to the plate.

And I loved it. Aside from ‘adulting,’ this was the first time I had the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture. Being in Germany and living with Germans, I got to know the German way of life (at least for a student). In town, no one could speak English, so every day I had to use the German I learned at NC State in Herr Brown’s Class. This experience pushed me outside of my comfort zone in more ways than one, and I grew as a person because of it.

 

Studying Abroad at Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen, Denmark
The GPC program only requires one international experience, but once I came back to NC State, I knew that I wanted to do it again. It’s not very common to study abroad twice, especially so late in your college career, but I managed to make it happen. And not just for another semester, but for a whole calendar year.

I am writing this article from my apartment in Copenhagen, and I have begun my second semester at Copenhagen Business School. Although studying abroad for one semester had made an impact on me, I would recommend studying abroad for at least two semesters. Being here for a year has allowed me to not only learn about the Danish way of living, but I’ve also been able to assimilate into Danish culture. I have become involved in Danish society by taking Danish classes, working, and volunteering.

Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering is actually very popular in Denmark. In my orientation, I learned that 4 out of 10 Danes participated in volunteer work. So it was quite easy for me to find a volunteer position that interested me. Volunteering is one of the requirements for the GPC, and one of the easiest ways to fulfill this requirement is by volunteering abroad.

I found a volunteer position that combined both my interests in culture and communication. Studenterhuset, or “The Student House,” is a non-profit organization run by students for students. I became a member of their monthly Language Cafe as one of the hosts for the English table. A Language Cafe is an event where people can come and practice the foreign language they are learning with a native speaker of that language. This volunteer position was perfect for me. I improved my cross-cultural communication skills and was able to meet Danes and other foreigners living in Denmark.

 

My Advice to GPC Students

The GPC program is a great way to internationalize your studies, but you don’t have to limit yourself to only fulfilling the requirements. Push your boundaries and step outside your comfort zone. Go abroad for as long as you can, because NC State gives students so many great opportunities to do so. But aside from experiences abroad, the GPC showcases many cultural events and activities across campus. I encourage you to  try everything that interests you. The cultural experiences and knowledge you gain will last a lifetime.