(Posted December 20, 2013)

Juniata international students who are here for just one semester reflect on their time on campus. Photo by Kelly Russo '14

Juniata international students who are here for just one semester reflect on their time on campus. Photo by Kelly Russo '14

Winter break marks the time when international students head home after the fall semester. Sadly, some have finished their study abroad programs here at Juniata. There is a feeling of melancholy this last week because it is time to say goodbye. Some exchange students share their experiences. All of them agree that the exchange program was an unforgettable memory.

Laura Tobío, international student from Spain

"There are some things I enjoyed a lot and others that I enjoyed less, but I think it was a good decision to study here. Huntingdon is isolated, but apart from that, I really enjoyed it here. In my personal life, the things I have learned the most is talking with people from different places like Korea, Afghanistan, and Tanzania. That's very interesting because they have very different cultures. The thing that definitely happened for me is that I have a stronger sense of identity, especially with the relationship of who I am and where I come from. One of the reasons that I came here was to get a scholarship for my Ph.D. program. Study abroad helps to reach that goal. I will miss my friends, international and American students, the most. I'll also miss the people and the good conversations with different opinions."

Ana Marquez, international student from Brazil

"I came here because I knew a professor at Juniata and he helped me get me a scholarship to come here. I realized there are good classes here and that is how I came to Juniata. Academically, I read a lot and I learned to compare authors and theories. In my personal life, I met people that I like and I enjoy spending time with. I will miss the fact that Juniata is such a close community. I encourage students to go to study abroad, but not every kind of student. If the student is looking for crazy parties and a big city, they should go to those places. Here, though, I think it is best for students that enjoy having more personal relationships, spending time with people, and enjoy school, thinking and studying."

Arturo Gutierrez, international student from Mexico

"I decided to come here because a couple of friends came before me. They recommended it, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience the program. It is hard to study abroad because you are outside of your comfort zone, and you are no longer in your country. I think coming to Juniata is hard even for native speakers; adapting a new culture and to a new kind of school is really different. The language was my biggest academic challenge. When you are writing, you discover that you are not good enough. I spent 25 years of my life studying English and I discovered it's not enough. Learning a new language is hard. You need to improve by yourself each day.
It is hard to leave because I made a lot of new friends. I'm going to miss the Spanish house where I lived. I'm going to miss the international students, too. Even going to Sheetz for a Coke is fun sometimes. If you have the opportunity, the patience, and the money, you should do an exchange program. Students should try because it changes your perspective about your personal and professional life. I know I have changed."

Jemie Chang, an international student from China

"I decided to come here because I wanted to experience a different culture and America is really different from China. I thought I could learn a lot here. This year, I met many students from different countries. I experienced a very different culture. For example, the American students not only study hard, they also play many sports. I met lots of friends here. When I will go back home, I will miss them a lot. I encourage people to come to study abroad because it is really the most unforgettable memory."

Katherine Tobar, Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.