May 24, 2016 // posted by Salma Mendez, during her flight to Japan
I consider myself a very lucky girl because in college I fell in love.
I fell in love with the sound of foreign languages, with the sights my eyes captured outside of textbook images, with the sense of excitement after 12+ hours of travel to reach my temporary new home. I'm a fourth-year student studying International Management and Finance. After my wonderful time in Italy with the UTSA Honors College the summer after my freshman year, I created a cycle of ongoing international education that enhanced my undergraduate career.
After a Maymester in Italy, I was lucky enough to participate in a second summer program to China, and in two separate semester programs in France and in Spain.
Not only did I develop a new profound love for carpaccio, escargot, dumplings, and tortilla española, but also a love for what each country had to offer. I experienced life through the remains of the ancient world intertwined with the flamboyant way of life of the Italians, the collectivist culture of the Chinese, the beautiful sound of the French language and their laissez-faire lifestyle, and the never-ending energy of the Spaniards who work together through their economic recovery.
Studying abroad allows you to connect with people despite your backgrounds. It shows you that we all have a story to share. It teaches you about the history, art, cuisine and everything that encompasses the culture. It teaches you personal lessons of patience, responsibility and courage. I encourage YOU to learn without borders!
There is nothing more beautiful than waking up in your chosen country feeling at home and knowing that you're exactly where you're supposed to be. You will love your school days where you gain a deeper understanding of the culture and learn from the diversity of your peers. Undoubtedly, you'll find yourself surrounded by a second family in a foreign country.
My favorite memories include mass by Pope Francis in Vatican City after roaming Rome, a talent show UTSA students and Chinese students put together at Beijing Normal University after climbing the Great Wall of China, my birthday "raclette" dinner at home with my French host family in Paris, and interning with a French-Spanish start-up in a business incubator in Madrid. These priceless memories were a result of making the world my classroom.
There is a world out there waiting for you, go chase after it! There is always a first time, and if I could do it at least once, so can you!
-Written on a 12-hour flight to study Modernism and Traditions in Japan, which is Salma's fifth and final study abroad program that she will participate in before graduating from UTSA.