Ria Rao ’19
Countries visited: India (research internship) and Scotland (Faculty-led)
Q: What is the main takeaway you got from your trip? Include important skills you developed:
A: My biggest takeaway from my global experiences is that whenever I approach a new environment or situation, I need to approach it with an open mind; I can’t let any kind of obstacles or fears deter me from looking positively at each situation. Every opportunity is what you make of it, so effort and enthusiasm contribute a great deal to the outcomes. On both my trips, I learned important skills such as independence, accountability, and self-drive. My research internship allowed me to work at my own pace, so my self-drive determined my progress, and I was able to learn several lab skills in the process. My faculty-led trip taught me how to adapt to a new setting and adjust to the lifestyle of a foreign country. In both situations, the global experience I had was based on my own outlook and efforts.
Q: How do you think this experience will help you get a job after you graduate?
A: Having these kinds of global experiences can really have an impact after graduation. Companies look for individuals who can communicate effectively, adapt to a new setting, and are flexible. Global experiences encourage students to communicate with locals and other students around the area, some that may not even speak English. Making an effort to reach out to strangers and learn about the culture depicts how well a student can convey his/her ideas which is always something that companies look for. In addition to this, adapting to an entirely new way of life shows how well a student would be able to mesh in with a company’s culture. Finally, another big takeaway from study abroad in a professional sense would be flexibility and willingness to try something new in a work environment. Global experiences can really stick out on a resume as long as they are conveyed effectively!
Q: How do you think this experience will help you become a leader in your field?
A: My experiences truly helped me develop as an individual and leader in the future because not only did I learn technical skills from research and new concepts from class, but I also learned how to branch out from my comfort zone. During my research internship, I was the only student from A&M that could somewhat speak the native language. During one of our adventures, it got late, we couldn’t get any cell service, and we didn’t have a way home, so I had to naturally assume the leadership role in that situation. I wasn’t usually the kind of person who would talk to strangers, let alone speak to them in a different language, but I had to overcome my fears and find us a cab ride home because we didn’t have any other choice. After that experience, I became much more confident in my abilities and took on the leadership position in other situations as well. Upon return, I realized how much easier it is to communicate effectively and make decisions for a group here in comparison to a foreign country. I hope to carry this experience and ability of leadership with me into the workforce.
Q: Did you have a lightbulb moment while you were abroad? If so, please share:
A: During my research internship experience, my lightbulb moments were spread out over multiple instances. After I made some friends in the lab and we became close, I learned so much about the culture in the state we were in and how it differs in other states. My local, university friends taught me cultural norms including small things such as food and clothing to larger aspects such as political policies; it was truly eye-opening every time I would interact with them and learn something new. Even though it was with a culture that I identify with, the biggest lightbulb moment for me was how much I didn’t know about the policies, lifestyle, and the country itself. It just taught me that there’s always a chance to learn something new about a country that you may already be familiar with. During my faculty-led program, my lightbulb moment abroad was one day when I was walking to our apartment after class; I had breakfast at a café in the morning with my roommates, picked up groceries from a store nearby, and had plans to go shopping later that afternoon. It was crazy to me, looking back, that in such a short time, I learned so much about the city that I was in, I knew directions, and I actually felt like a local resident for a moment. It made me realize how easy it is to actually sink into the lifestyle of a new city and culture after the initial immersion and shock of independence.
The College of Engineering offers a wide variety of opportunities to study abroad. Search programs by department, location and type to find the perfect fit for you.