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Student Spotlight

Joshua Shannon
United Kingdom Summer 2011
Biological Sciences Major, Spanish Minor
jnshanno@uci.edu

UK

"One of the most important changes I went through while studying abroad was a change in perspective."

"As a result of studying abroad, I have found a new appreciation for experiencing the world through putting yourself in different cultures."

"DO IT! Studying abroad might seem scary, expensive, risky (believe me, I remember it all), but it is also 100% worth it."

Why did you choose your particular study abroad program/location?
The program for Physics at the University of Sussex, UK was definitely the first toe in the water for me due to the progress that can be made towards a Biology degree in just one summer! The more I thought about studying abroad in England, the more excited I became. Having never had left the United States, the idea of venturing out of my home country all by myself was both intriguing and terrifying. I felt called by the opportunity to not only live in England, but to travel to the many surrounding countries as well! After experiencing England firsthand, I knew that it was the right choice for me.
 
What types of activities were you involved in while abroad that were meaningful for your learning?
I was fortunate enough to travel outside of the UK for two weeks prior to my study abroad session. Having had gone it alone, the only people I had to interact with were the friends I made along the way. I had deep conversations on the top of the Eiffel Tower with Londoners, a blast on the beaches of Barcelona, Spain with Canadians, and some long overdue catching up with family serving on an American base in Germany.
 
How have you changed or what have you learned due to studying abroad?
One of the most important changes I went through while studying abroad was a change in perspective. I learned to look at the world through different eyes having inserted myself in countries and cultures that were not like that of my own. I caught myself saying "That's so weird!" when I saw something that I didn't experience in my normative American standards, such as when Brits greet you "Are you alright?" versus "How are you?" Through my living and breathing the change in culture, I found that these practices are not "weird," but simply different from what I know. I learned to appreciate the "different" with my new global perspective.
 
What are you doing now as a result of studying abroad?
As a result of studying abroad, I have found a new appreciation for experiencing the world through putting yourself in different cultures. As the Resident Advisor for Estrella Hall in Mesa Court, I encourage my residents experience studying abroad for themselves and frequently share stories of my travels. I also feel that I can better relate to international students at UC Irvine in remembering the feeling of being so far away from home. As an aspiring doctor, I have confirmed my desire to practice medicine in other countries that are in need of volunteer medical service.
 
What advice would you give to a student considering studying abroad?
DO IT! Studying abroad might seem scary, expensive, risky (believe me, I remember it all), but it is also 100% worth it. There is so much to experience and learn. What better time to do it than in your undergraduate college years?! When you go, experience it all! Soak up everything you see and do. Worst case scenario: things don't work out the way you thought. You took a risk and something surprised you. I had many surprises in my time studying abroad and not one of them makes me regret me decision to study abroad. I have taken and contributed all of those surprises to my learning, growth and strengthening as an individual.

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University of California, Irvine • Irvine, CA 92697
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