Reflecting on Puerto Rico by Ugonna Okpalaoka

I’ve been back for about two weeks now, and I have to say, I miss Puerto Rico (and I’m not just saying that because it’s 17 degrees outside and I’ve lost all feeling in my fingers and toes!) Puerto Rico truly is a beautiful country. This includes the nature, its history, and its people. Though the program was not what I expected it to be in the beginning, I still had a worthwhile experience. You never want to take for granted a chance to visit another country!

Now that I am back, I am thinking more seriously about pursuing a minor in Spanish. I surprised myself with how much I was able to communicate with others in Spanish. I wasn’t the best speaker, but I definitely knew more than I thought I was capable of. This has given me more motivation to learn the language.

Also, Though I’m not claiming to be an expert or anything, I’d like to share a few tips for anyone planning to study abroad in the future.

– Go in with an open mind – The term study abroad is very general, and there is no one specific structure. Some people go abroad to volunteer, others study in foreign universities — the possibilities are limitless. So instead of going into a program with a formed idea of what your experience will be like, go into it open-minded and ready to learn.

– Interact with the locals – While the resources provided on study abroad programs are great, you learn ta great deal from the people who live in the country you’re visiting. Step out of your comfort zone and make conversation with them. You will be surprised how much you learn.

– Keep a journal – It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy, but it’s a good idea to document your trip, because it can go by very quickly. If you take fifteen minutes once in awhile to record what you’ve done so far, you’ll appreciate it when you get back home and want to recount your adventures.

Check back soon for a video diary of Ugonna’s experience in Puerto Rico!

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2 thoughts on “Reflecting on Puerto Rico by Ugonna Okpalaoka

  1. I want to bring a group of my High School students to Puerto Rico for 7-10 days. We would split time between volunteering and exploring/learning.
    The key consideration is that our kids are low income and our budgets are minimal. I need to find a grass-roots way to make this happen that would include us either staying with local families, camping out, or staying at a youth hostel etc.
    Can you suggest any contacts for me?
    Thanks!
    Andrew

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