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    Posted March 16, 2014 by
    Northfield, New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Be the Change You Wish to See in the World!

    I believe you should study abroad to gain an unprecedented wealth of knowledge, strength, confidence and compassion. I received a US Federal Grant to Study Business in Brazil in 2005. My major was Sociology, but I declared a Minor in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Against my parents wishes I chose to stay one year in Florianopolis, Brasil. I was 19 when I left July 1, 2005. As I took off from Miami I watched the 4th of July fireworks from above knowing that that would forever symbolize my own Declaration of Independence. Was I naive when I left? Extremely much so, but I wanted to speak a second language and the only true way to learn is to immerse yourself.. I'm not sure if I could have even realized how much I was actually going to learn in that year. By the time my college courses started I could barely speak, but I was reading, writing and understanding, constantly referring to the basics and never without my dictionario. I earned 12 college credits during that year, all in my second language, Portuguese. I met some of the greatest and inspiring people that I will ever meet in my life from Brazil, USA, England, France, Egypt, Peru, Ireland, Belgium... I saw Kelly Slater eating Acai around the corner from my apartment and read that Leo DiCaprio visited there with Giselle. I befriended an international fashion designer, a man that played the classical guitar that was being inducted into the NY Instrumental Hall of Fame (don't quote me on that!), a best friend that had roots to royalty in Nigeria.. and the list goes on.. I had the most fervent conversations on religion, politics, culture, etc with so many. I could go on and on and tell you about so many incredible experiences that touched my heart, soul and mind. But, that was just my experience.. Your experience will be just as incredible and life-changing. I wasn't rich, my father was a high school gym teacher. I was broke the entire year there much like I lived here in the US as a college student (and still today). I spent less abroad than I would have spent during that year in the US. The only way I could study abroad was to go somewhere where the dollar could stretch... I would like to advocate for more Study Abroad programs, without that $2,500 Federal Grant I would not have been able to afford it. I would not have had this enriching experience that built my sense of self, founded my leadership skills and multiplied my confidence. I have an exorbitant better understanding of the entire world that I could have never learned from the news. Thank you for making this an important issue, as I believe it is better for humanity if we can all learn that "they are just like us!" by studying abroad.
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