UNC students have journeyed to dozens of places around the world and experienced new cultures, environments and perspectives. As they made their way back to UNC, current and former students reflected on their experiences abroad in email interviews with The Daily Tar Heel.
Olivia Waters, a recent graduate and global studies major, said that when she studied abroad, she went on lots of trips, ate at many fun restaurants and played 'tourist' often while studying in Lisbon, Portugal in spring 2019.
"That being said, some of my favorite moments were my times of solitude," Waters said. "I made a point to reflect on my time abroad frequently and often found myself sitting by the river, or at a cafe, or the beach and found those moments incredibly special and important.”
Brandy Abreu, a rising senior and human development and family studies major, said she has many amazing memories of studying in South Korea in spring 2021, but three specific ones stand out to her.
"The first is spending a whole week in Busan with my friends and taking classes by Gwangalli Beach and going to the Busan Culture Village," Abreu said. "Secondly, going night Squid fishing at 11 p.m. off the southern coast of Jeju Island and eating ramen with the squid we caught. Lastly, the times when my friends and I spent the whole night by the Han River talking, eating and playing games until the sun rose.”
However, study abroad students faced challenges during their travels as well.
For Sarah Slay, a recent graduate and biology major, her challenges were related to COVID-19. She said in April of 2020, New Zealand shut down nearly everything for the whole month of April while studying at the University of Canterbury.
"So, we had a big movie marathon and we ended up building a fort at our apartment," Slay said. "I think that was like making the best kind of a crappy situation.”
Waters said that money was also a challenge. She said although she saved a lot of money for her trip and Lisbon is a relatively affordable city, it was difficult for her to resist feeling like she was on vacation.