Caitlin studied abroad in Akita City, Japan and now works as the Network and Project Manager at the Universidad Católica de la Santísima in Concepción (UCSC) and is a professor at the Universidad del Desarollo (UDD) where she teaches a class on Culture and Globalization.
Where did you go to school?
St. Cloud State University
When and where did you study abroad?
Akita International University (Akita City, Japan)
What was the BEST part about studying abroad?
I would have to say the BEST part about studying abroad is traveling to another ¨jungle¨…. learning a new language and culture, eating new foods (in my case pickled baby octopus from a jar), making friends that you will have for the rest of your life and pushing limits and boundaries in yourself that you didn’t know you were capable of doing. Those are the moments when you feel like you’ve conquered the world!
What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
I learned that there is so much out there in the world and I felt terrible that I have only seen 1% of what the world has to offer. The world is a beautiful place filled with great people and places…you just have to go out there and find them! I learned a different way of life from the Japanese…how to enjoy and appreciate life more, how to NOT function like running machine, how to be more patient and understanding of things that I necessarily didn’t like or understand.
What was your BIGGEST challenge when studying abroad?
My biggest challenge was being so far away from my family for the first time. I had never traveled outside of the US prior to my study abroad trip and I went a full year without seeing my family. That was pretty hard, but I realized that even though they were so far away physically, there were always close to me in my heart and in my mind.
How did studying abroad change your life?
Of course! Without a doubt, study abroad change my life! I learned to be more self-confident, to shoot for higher goals and to never give up!
What have you been doing post studying abroad?
I moved to Chile 3 years ago. I started working as an international analyst in the Center for Studies and Development in Asia-Pacific (CEDAP) for a year. I still participate in projects and seminars with them but since last year I have been working in the international office as Network and Project Manager at the Universidad Católica de la Santísima in Concepción (UCSC) and I am a professor at the Universidad del Desarollo (UDD) where I teach a class on Culture and Globalization. Every once in awhile I dabble in importing products. :)
What’s your BEST piece of advice for a student who is thinking about studying abroad?
Go somewhere unique BUT somewhere where you can develop skills related to your major. Take advantage of the partnerships and opportunities your university has and try to select one of the better partner universities if possible. Also, when abroad try not to surround yourself with people from the U.S….try to immerse yourself in the host-culture. Learn from them, be patient, try to fit in… a.k.a. walk-their-walk. Oh….and most importantly….HAVE FUN!!!