By ADRIANNA TARIN
KEARNEY – After studying in China in fall 2012 and Peru in spring 2013, Maria Rojas will hop on a plane one last time before she graduates from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“My favorite part about being abroad was visiting different places and learning about the culture in those countries,” said Rojas, a senior biology/pre-medicine major from Grand Island. “I loved walking into the places I always dreamed of visiting someday.”
Next, she’ll be off to spend a semester in the Czech Republic in March.
“It is truly an amazing feeling. I like learning about different cultures, and that was one of my motivations to study abroad,” Rojas said.
Rojas began planning her trips abroad last year and had both China and Peru on her travel wish list.
“I kind of wanted to experience something new. Even before I went to China, I had already decided to study in Peru also,” Rojas said. “I didn’t have a hard time leaving. On the contrary, I was very excited.”
Rojas believes the study abroad program at UNK was a gateway to pursuing some lifetime dreams.
“I had two dreams come true during my experiences abroad; visiting the Great Wall of China and going to Machu Pichu,” Rojas said.
Rojas participated in the UNK Semester Abroad Program in China and Peru. During each semester abroad, a UNK faculty member leads a group of students. Rojas earned 12 UNK credit hours each semester at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru, and Hebei Normal University in Shijiazhuang, China.
The groups of UNK students also took field trips to explore several destinations in and around the host country.
“I loved walking in the streets of China because people were very interesting and the pace of life was not rushed at all. Everything was more relaxed,” Rojas said. “I liked to try different foods, even food sold on the street.
“In Peru, I loved going to the park at night because it was full of people performing, dancing different dance styles, practicing and playing,” Rojas said. “It was truly spectacular.”
Rojas will travel to the Czech Republic as part of the Nebraska Semester Abroad Program, which was created by the Nebraska Consortium – UNK, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wayne State College. The three-month exchange allows students to study abroad in a program led by a Nebraska professor and taught by professors from the hosting institution.
Rojas said she learned about different cultures, but more importantly, learned about herself while being abroad.
“I have even learned to look at life from different perspectives, and to become more aware of people in different situations all over the world,” Rojas said.
For those considering studying abroad or even traveling the world, Rojas has advice.
“Definitely go. If you want to travel, you should do it because it is a great life experience,” Rojas said. “In the process, it makes you grow and become more confident in yourself.”
While studying at UNK, Rojas has been involved with the biology club, student research, Black Student Association, Thompson Scholar community, Nebraska Cultural Unity Conference and the Friends Program.
Rojas plans to graduate in May 2014 with a degree in biology/pre-medicine.
UNK offers study abroad experiences in Ireland, China, Peru, the Czech Republic, Spain, Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Austria, Finland and Mexico. Faculty-led programs, third-party programs and international internships are also available.
To learn more about UNK Study Abroad Programs, go to www.unk.edu/studyabroad/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Maria Rojas, 308-865-8127, email@example.com
Writer: Adrianna Tarin, firstname.lastname@example.org