Bonnie Williams, a senior international studies major from Downe Township, NJ (Cumberland County) shares her personal experience with us about the study abroad program she is participating in.
As a first-generation, transfer student, Bonnie is proud that she is about to be the first Williams (of her direct family) to receive her bachelor’s degree, and possibly continue her education to aim for a graduate degree. She shares that her family has seen how hard she works for school and they’ve never underestimated her efforts. Although she occasionally has feelings of guilt because she recognizes that her parents didn’t have the opportunity to earn a college degree, she knows that they work hard to support her and that they are beyond proud of her.
This semester, Bonnie is studying abroad in Colombia, with the goal of gaining volunteering and service experience. She’s looking forward to learning more about the culture and environment of Barranquilla, Colombia, specifically its people, music, food, everyday life, and the university- “Universidad del Norte”. After spending a few weeks there she is already in love with Colombia’s culture. Bonnie stated that “being there feels like living a different life than [she] could ever have imagined for [herself], and that it has made [her] feel an array of emotions, from excitement, scared, homesick, but most of all it has felt like a nonstop adventure that [she] is thoroughly enjoying.”
Bonnie’s long-term professional dream goal is to become a professor in Spain and/or Latin America. She has always admired other countries, their cultures, and their people. Bonnie mentioned that her main inspiration for pursuing an international studies degree was because of a cultural geography course she took at Camden County College, where she analyzed various countries, cultures, traditions, religions, etc. Bonnie said that this course “opened [her] eyes to the varieties of the world’s different cultures and sparked [her] passion for learning about the world and its many different people”. Bonnie believes that earning her degree at Rowan will allow her to broaden her knowledge of the world’s people by studying different countries, cultures, etc. She supports the idea that her degree “will open the door to expanding [her] degree or starting [her] professional journey right after graduation.”
Bonnie is proud of her courage and the experience she has gained so far. If Bonnie has one piece of advice for transfer students, it’s “if you’re interested in studying abroad, do it! Apply for scholarships, grants, and believe in yourself! All of your hard work will pay off, and you will find answers to yourself that you never even knew you had when you put yourself out there and challenge yourself to live in another part of the world.”
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Written by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major