This post is part of our Study Abroad Stories series, which aims to share the thoughts and experiences of students who have already taken the leap of faith and gone to study in a foreign country. With each of these stories, we hope to inspire, inform, and encourage anyone who has yet to study abroad. Want to share your story? Send us an email at [email protected] or tag us on Instagram using the hashtag #studyabroadstories.
Bianca is from Honolulu, Hawaii and recently graduated from Washington State University with a major in Human Development and minor in Global Studies. She’s extremely passionate when it comes to humanitarian work and is currently interning with Save the Children. She is also obsessively travel blogging on her website www.backpackingbee.com.
- Name: Bianca Dukesherer
- Country/place of origin: United States
- Where you studied abroad: Semester At Sea: Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, England then I backpacked for a month
- When you studied abroad: Spring 2016
- College/university that you studied abroad with: Washington State University
Why did you decide to study abroad? Why did you go where you went?
I decided to study abroad because I knew I wanted to gain perspective and learn more from other cultures. Originally, I wanted to go to Africa but my dad wouldn’t let me study there alone for 4 months so I compromised by choosing a program that touched on certain countries in Africa instead. Where was your favourite travel destination while studying abroad? One of my favorite places to visit was probably Morocco, the rich culture, amazing deserts and the small town of Chefchaouen all were an incredible end to my experience abroad. What is your most embarrassing/craziest study abroad moment? My craziest study abroad moment was when I decided to sky dive in South Africa…and I’m afraid of heights. It has always been a fear that I wanted to overcome however, and my friends convinced be the night before to go for it. Flying up in that little plane I thought I was going to pass out but I jumped first and have never felt better about my decision. Today I’m able to hike mountains without that fear getting to me anymore. What was the best thing you ate while studying abroad? I absolutely love Indian food, so I was a happy camper with the spicy curry, wild rice and cheesy Naan. Absolute heaven. What did you miss most about home when studying abroad? I would get homesick for my comfort zone sometimes, sounds strange but I was seeing a lot of impoverished areas that at times got a tad hard for me (sounds weird to say) but journaling helped me get through this. What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying abroad? >Another challenge I faced while abroad was probably respecting the culture even when my inner feminist told me to act out or say something. For example, in areas like Morocco men held most of the power and at times, wouldn’t even talk to me or my girl friends, we’d have our friend John do most of the talking. I was upset but had to really respect that it wasn’t my culture and that’s the way they live their life.
What is your fondest memory from studying abroad? One of my fondest memories abroad would be standing on the Great Wall of China…and hitchhiking later that evening after getting completely lost. It was an incredible day filled with a few wrong turns, laughter, and one heck of an adventure. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life? My experience abroad impacted my life in so many ways, I now realize more about the world around me and what I want to do to impact it. Since this experience, I’ve actually grown comfortable with traveling alone as well, which was a big step for me and I’ve been nervous about it for some time. I recently backpacked through Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany and had the time of my life making new friends, learning more about the culture from a new perspective and digging deeper within myself to realize that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
Any last words of advice for people planning to study abroad? If you’re planning to study abroad don’t be afraid to listen to that little voice in the back of your head telling you to go for it. Try something new almost every day and do that thing you’ve been scared to try but have always wanted to. I never thought I would’ve done half the things I ended up doing abroad but I thank every one of them, I feel more comfortable with myself and what I can do.
Have you done Semester at Sea? Or are you considering doing Semester at Sea? Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!