#StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

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Brittany K. Stone is a senior psychology student at the University of Pittsburgh minoring in Social Work and is an aspiring psychologist. 
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
In general, I have always had interests in cultural diversity in the United States. Previously, I have traveled for both leisure and service purposes. As I began my studies in Psychology, I noticed there is a gap in our academic field. The studies that are used in our curriculum are great resources for understanding psychology. Oftentimes, the samples used to complete studies are homogeneous regarding cultural and social economic backgrounds. This is when I realized the influence of culture on mental health is not fully understood. Thus, I chose to study abroad to further expose myself to diversity. I chose Buenos Aires, Argentina because it was a country I was least familiar with compared to other Latin American countries.
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?
My experience in Buenos Aires was more than I could have ever anticipated it to be. I went to Argentina with very limited Spanish speaking ability. I lived with a woman in her seventies by the name of Estella, and she was by far my favorite memory while there. One day, the Wi-Fi in the apartment stopped working. When I first arrived, she had limited experience using her cellphone for social media. While living with her, her family and I helped her figure out how to use Facebook and WhatsApp on her cell phone. When the Wi-Fi went out, she was unable to use either app. She grew increasingly agitated as she waiting for the Wi-Fi to work. She sat on the bed crossing her arms, complaining to the maid and I - she just couldn’t fathom the idea of not being connected to social media. She didn’t know what to do with her free time! 

My largest challenge was using my Spanish speaking abilities to communicate my needs. All the students in the program had to apply for temporary residency while in Argentina through immigrations. There were many steps that needed to be completed - and with accuracy. Each process included a different building, people, and information, all of which had to be completed in Spanish. We were informed of the steps needed to complete, but regarding communicating needing photos, finger prints, approval of residency, and the like was far beyond my language abilities. 
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?
While in Argentina, I learned how to communicate efficiently, use resources, and navigate unfamiliar settings. I believe my experience did change my perspectives on life. I learned that some things are outside of my control and I need to have faith in the situation and the people around me to accomplish my goals. I relied on a lot of strangers, whether it was for directions, advice, so on and so forth. Also, I am more understanding and empathetic for those who are courageous enough to come to the United States to start a living. It is hard to live somewhere unfamiliar without having many resources and help from family. Many times, people are not proficient in the language of a country upon moving, which makes things harder. Therefore, I have more appreciation for people who take those kinds of risks for the hopes of a better life. 
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? 
The experience I had abroad has not affected my current position in life, but I know that it enriched my knowledge and understanding of the world. I strongly believe that my experience will help me make future decisions for further education and career options. 

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?
While applying for my study abroad experience, I did not have sufficient funds to partake in the program. I learned, “just because I can’t, doesn’t mean that I won’t.” With will comes great motivation to achieve all things that we truly want. I created a GoFund me account; I was surprised by who donated. Every dollar counts. Search and apply to scholarships prior to applying for the experience. The due dates for many scholarships are sooner than you would expect. Make sure you have people you can rely on for letters of recommendation. If you are able to work, do so. Do not allow financial concerns to prevent you from experiencing something as unique as studying abroad. 
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
I have found that I am a citizen of the world, not of the United States. I say this jokingly with much seriousness. People are more similar than they are different. Though language affects one’s ability to communicate with others, it is not the only means of communication. I have had conversation in Spanish where nothing that was said was understood linguistically - but the message was loud and clear. I met people from all over the world, such as Russia, France, Poland, Germany, Colombia, and Venezuela, just to name a few. Their views and experiences gave me perspective on life and destroyed the stereotyped images we perpetrate in the media of these countries and their people. 
Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
All students should study abroad - there is room somewhere within your schedule to do so. Where there is a will, there is a way!

#StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love

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Brittany K. Stone: #StudyAbroadBecause We Need The Love


Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.

You can read more of her #studyabroadbecause interviews, as well as articles on various forms of international education at home and abroad, here.


All photos courtesy and copyright Brittany K. Stone