Student Experiences

The following are the testimonies of students who went to complete a summer, semester, and academic year abroad, under the UIC Exchange Program.

 

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Hinh Trinh, College of Business, College of Business, Fall 2016 Exchange Program in Taipei, Taiwan at National Taiwan University.

I have had a great experience in Taiwan. A lot of beautiful historical sites and great foods. I met a lot of nice people and teachers. I also learned some Chinese and Taiwanese, which I think it’s a really cool language. If I have another chance to go exchange, I would like to come back here!

 

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Molina, College of Business, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Recipient, John and Grace Nuveen International Awards Recipient, Spring 2016 Exchange Program in Madrid, Spain at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in the UIC Exchange Program in Madrid. One of my main concerns when it came to planning to do the exchange program was how I was going to be able to finance it, but I was able to find support from the UIC of International Affairs that advised me to apply for the Nuveen Scholarship and the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship. I obtained both scholarships and this helped alleviate a lot of the costs. I recommend students who are interested in doing the exchange program to look into both of these scholarships.

At the Autonomous University of Madrid, I met many international students who enriched my experience abroad. I had classes with students from diverse countries and thus with different points of views that expanded my own thinking beyond what I knew in the U.S. My most memorable experiences abroad are the ones that involved meeting someone who helped me and offered their friendship when I first got to Madrid or when I met someone in an unexpected situation that led us to become great friends. I felt very happy to see that regardless of where someone comes from there are always people there to help  navigate a new place better. I will always have great memories abroad that will positively impact present and future decisions both personal and career wise.

Exploring the city of Madrid was great and being in Europe was so convenient because I also got the opportunity to travel to other cities because of low prices and short proximity. Through the exchange program I was able to get out of my comfort zone and it made me a much more independent person. I will always hold amazing memories of my time in Madrid and of the friends that I met abroad.

 

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Michael Sewall, Master of Urban Planning and Policy Graduate Student, President of the Urban Planning & Policy Student Association, Studied at Lucerne University in Lucerne, Switzerland; Summer 2016

Photo: Nature walking trail in Lucerne, Switzerland

The international program with Lucerne University was an incredible opportunity and a perfect fit for me because it only took me out of my everyday life for a week and not an entire semester. 

But that week was packed with a variety of lectures, tours, and experiences that helped reshape the way I think about what’s possible back home. We saw an old pool turned into a shared work space and community center, a small mountain village preparing for an influx of tourism, and lots more to inspire our thinking. 

I enjoyed that there were students from several countries in the program so that we could learn from each other. Besides the great classroom experience, Lucerne is a beautiful place to visit. I got a chance to swim in the lake, hike in the mountains, and walk along historic structures built in the 1300s and 1400s. 

 

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Paulina Rico-Juarez, College of Business, UIC Global Learning Community Campus Certificate, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Recipient,  Spring 2016 MICEFA Exchange Program in Paris, France. 

Photo: MICEFA field trip to Cheverny, France

The Paris attacks happened just before I got accepted into the MICEFA program and won the Gilman Scholarship, so it was a tough choice deciding whether to go or not. I took a leap of faith and was comforted upon realizing that the MICEFA staff was responsive and helpful throughout my whole exchange experience. I got to take Master’s level business courses and went from level 0 French to being able to get around on my own as well as getting to hang out with French people. As part of the MICEFA program, we had cultural activities such as a boat tour on the Seine and a French baking class. For one of my MICEFA courses, we actually went to Brussels, Belgium on a field trip! Ultimately, I recommend students to become an exchange student because it costs the same (or less) as UIC while integrating yourself into the culture.

 

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Charles Frisbie, Masters of Business Administration, Summer 2016 IAE Doing Business in Argentina Exchange Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

I had a great time studying abroad in Buenos Aires at IAE.  The professors and guest lecturers presented a lot of interesting information about the Argentinean economy and culture.  In addition the full time students at IAE were very welcoming and took it upon themselves to show us a good time.  I found it to be a fun and enlightening experience overall.” 

 

 

 

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Brenden Paradies, Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Graduate Student, Studied at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland; Fall 2015 

“Having the opportunity to participate in the UIC Exchange Program, via the University of Illinois-Chicago Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Exchange Program was by far the highlight of my time as a graduate student. Dublin, Ireland is a country with beautiful outdoor landscapes, numerous walking nature trails, and the friendliest people you will ever interact with. Dublin is a great city for students to complete a study abroad program as there are no significant language barriers, plenty of public transportation to get you anywhere in the country, the cost of living is not outrageous, and everyone is very helpful and friendly. University College Dublin, where I completed my courses while abroad, has very helpful administration and faculty to help with any concerns you may have. This college also has a beautiful campus hosting many student amenities as well as a large number of international students allowing you to connect with students from all over the world. While in Dublin, I took the opportunity to travel to many more international cities too at a really low cost. Overall, this study abroad experience was the best decision I made as a young adult to expand my learning, professional development, and travel to places I’ve always dreamed of!”

 Polytechnique MontrealMorgan Osborn, College of Engineering, Computer Science, Studied at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in  Montreal, Canada; Summer 2015

As a transfer student to UIC with all my general education requirements completed on arrival, arranging an experience abroad was difficult, especially in the college of engineering, where accreditation concerns complicate the process of taking classes outside of the US. Thankfully, internship experience is an international currency on resumes, and the OIA also coordinates internships abroad with various institutions like the École Polytechnique de Montréal where I went for the summer. Having been recommended to me by the wonderful staff members of the OIA, I secured a research internship with a member of the Polytechnique faculty, and spent a summer in the heart of Montréal. I was worried my first undergraduate research experience was going to be both overly difficult and inconsequential, especially considering that I was working in an electrical engineering department as a computer scientist, but my research supervisor and all the other lab members were exceptionally helpful. We managed to find a niche for me where I could both apply my current skills in novel ways to active problems in the field of neural signal processing, while also learning things in-depth which I’d never have the opportunity to learn without taking a few extra years to pick up a second major. In one summer I learned a bunch of new technologies, a programming language, and a few books worth of material on electronic circuits, signal processing, and neural biology. On top of the learning experience, I also have two pending publications to show for my time there.

Something less tangible, but just as valuable, was my time spent in Montréal outside of the lab. As far as I know, there is no city on Earth with a better claim on the phrase “joie de vivre.” Whether it’s the Tam-Tams drum circle in the park which has been running uninterrupted for 25 years, or the handful of cultural festivals happening on any given day, Montréal is in a constant state of celebration. The best part was that, as someone who didn’t speak a word of French, the whole city was still just as open and welcoming to me as if I could speak it fluently. Almost everyone there speaks English, and considering that the rest of Canada speaks it, they are more than accommodating when it comes to non-francophones. It was extremely easy to find a place to live when I arrived there, which was both affordable and well-situated, and getting around on their excellent public transportation system was an exercise in ease I never thought possible. It also helped that the Polytechnique, in the interest of attracting UIC students, offered to cover the cost of travel and living, which made the whole trip possible on my tight budget. Within a few short days I was living like a true Montréalais, visiting the open-air markets, lounging in the parks, staying out late on the safe city streets, speaking a little French, and eating ridiculous amounts of excellent food. Speaking of food, Montréal has something to eat about every 100 feet or so, and every bit of it, even the really cheap stuff, is impossibly tasty. All this compounded with the good company of the easy friends I made at the Polytechnique and in the neighborhood I was living in enlightened me with that “joy of living” the locals always talk about. As both an academic and personal experience, I highly recommend my experience at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, and I’d encourage anyone with the opportunity to take it immediately.

 

 

Doing Business in BrazilAriana M. Taylor, Liautaud Graduate School of Business; Summer 2014 Doing Business in Brazil Exchange Program

“After being informed about the Doing Business in Brazil program available for Liautaud students, I knew that it was a unique opportunity that I would have to take… While in Brazil, I completed an interesting course with about 24 unique individuals from various schools such as University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Duke University, University of Notre Dame, and of course University of Illinois at Chicago.  As I learned about Brazil’s culture, business organization, economy, infrastructure, and much more, I also viewed beautiful areas of Brazil like the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. Doing Business in Brazil was an incredible experience that allowed me to meet now life-long friends and learn about business internationally. I recommend this trip to all UIC Liautaud students because I believe it has truly enhanced my knowledge of business and obviously resume.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Lisak, College of Business; Fall 2013 Ghent University Exchange Program

“During my experience, I did so many amazing things. I had the utmost pleasure of meeting people from around the world who were a part of my program and university, which I still talk to today and will forever. I was able to explore historic landmarks and indulge in delicacies and foods from across Europe from Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, London, and Rome to name a few. However, most importantly I gained an education in Ghent from very knowledgeable European professors that shed a completely different perspective on my understanding of business. By being immersed in a completely different culture, I learned so much about myself.  This experience has not only shaped who I am culturally and allowed me to understand my heritage in a much more profound way, but it has benefited me professionally as I begin my career in Marketing.”

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiff University--B. ObiomaBlessing Obioma, LAS-Biological Sciences; Spring 2013 Cardiff University Exchange Program

“In fall semester 2012, I was unsure of how to go about the process of study abroad, until I went into the student exchange office; they helped me in every single step of studying abroad. Studying abroad has been a life-changing event for me, both academically and personally. It gave me the chance to meet individuals of various personas. Cardiff Wales, UK, although a small city is now a place that I can never forget. Socially, I was able to meet diverse people from around the globe; they had organizations and their dorms were set in a way that students can socialize with each other. Within just one week of arrival I established loads of acquaintances; individuals and students were eager to help me familiarize with the environment. I wouldn’t have achieved the great network of friends I achieved that would help me in future, if hadn’t made the step of walking into the student exchange office. To me studying abroad almost seemed impossible for financial reasons. However, I received the Gilman Scholarship and John Nuveen Scholarship that aided me even in miscellaneous expenses. I was never stranded or lacked money. I even got to explore other cities in Europe like Paris, Barcelona, Scotland etc. It’s a life changing event I think everyone should experience.”