Life Changing Experiences
Discovering the World with UNO
When I first learned about study abroad opportunities through U.N.O., I initially thought that it was not for me because I am a broke college student and I don’t know any other languages. Luckily, I took the time to speak with Emily Hassenstab, the Study Abroad Advisor, and before I knew it I was on a plane headed for a life changing experience.
I’ve been asked several times what I mean by life changing, and although tough to put into words, this is my best attempt:
Here I am now, 2 years later and I have been to 8 countries within my junior and senior year. I’ve studied Roman history while standing in the coliseum; had a cup of coffee on the Eiffel Tower while admiring the Paris landscape; watched the sunrise from the worlds tallest building (Burj Khalifa) in Dubai; jumped and para-glided off a mountain in Nepal; Scuba dived off the coast of a small island in Thailand; and walked through battlegrounds in Vietnam where my father fought in war over 40 years ago.
If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be able to say this, I would have said it was impossible. This coming from a guy born and raised in Omaha, and once embarrassingly asked what language they speak in England.
My last study abroad was an 8-month stretch throughout Asia, with a semester at our partner University in Chengdu, China. After my first week in China, I realized I had to take everything I thought I knew about the country/culture, and forget it.
Academically it was extremely interesting to learn their view and take of certain subjects like finance, economics and importing/exporting. Essentially I learned the same material I would have learned here, but from a completely different perspective and scope. Just being able to put these studies on my resume will set me apart from every other candidate applying for that position.
Outside of the classroom is where I learned the most though, especially from meeting locals and learning the culture through new friendships. As cheesy as it sounds, my favorite part of traveling is the relationships I’ve made in every single country I’ve been to.
Words cannot express what an amazing experience I’ve had and how much I grew as a person during my study abroad experiences. I learned something new everyday about myself and the world I live in, and that knowledge is priceless
My best advice is simple: don’t let any excuses or fears stop you, just GO!
Michael Blakely, B.Sc. International Business & Marketing