- What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?
Studying abroad as a first-generation college student allowed for me to turn my fear of traveling alone and leaving my family into encouragement and determination to leave and finally start my journey abroad. I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach as the day to leave approached but I quickly gain excitement for what was to come. Once you embark on the journey and hop on the plane, all of the worries go away and all the hard work I dedicated to getting me there was finally paying off. Definitely, the best decision I’ve made of my entire life.
- What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?
Before going abroad I wish I had time to enjoy the foods that were not going to be found once I left the States. Once you leave you don’t realize what you have until it is gone… at least temporarily. In addition, spending a lot of my time with friends and family in order to better cope with homesickness. I will also suggest preparing with essential travel equipment such as a journal and camera in order to document the memories being made.
- What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?
The region of the Caribbean has always influenced my studies and was one of the primary reasons why I decided to study abroad in Barbados. Once I arrived I quickly felt enthusiastic about all of the courses that were being offered at my host university. Out of all of my courses, I believe both my Gender and Race in Latin America and Caribbean Social Problems courses were my favorite. Both allowed for me to enrich my cultural experience because they focused on discussing the region in depth by focusing on historical and social narratives that influence the Bajan culture.
- What is one of your best memories from abroad?
I have multiple memories while abroad but one of my favorites is exploring the island on local transportation. I remember visiting Rihanna Drive which is Rihanna’s childhood street where she was born and raised. In addition, I will always remember attending the Hennessy Artistry 2017 Concert at Pirate’s Cove where local Bajan artists performed like Popcaan, Scrilla, and Stiffy. I remember dancing the night away to Bajan music and experiencing a concert by the beachside.
- What was your biggest challenge abroad?
The biggest challenge I experienced was adjusting to my life abroad. As an American, I was quickly reminded of the privileges I had and was accustomed to having on a daily basis. Life abroad humbled me and allowed me to appreciate my life and privileges that I had back in the United States. After adjusting into Bajan culture I took advantage of every opportunity to learn and explore more about myself as a first-generation Latina college student.
- What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?
The favorite aspect of my host culture was the warmness of the local Bajans that I experienced both on and off campus. Bajan people will always greet you with a good morning, good afternoon, or good night which broke the ice when wanting to meet new friends. I also loved the music and food that the island is proud of having. I fell in love with dancehall, soca, calypso which all are fast pace dancing music that quickly became my favorite to listen to. With the food, the island is seafood influenced where shrimp, fish, and dolphinfish are consumed and found all throughout the island.
- Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.
- What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?
Bajan cuisine is unique in the sense that it is influenced by African, Indian, Creole, and British cultures. The main food I miss the most is the spicy Jamaican chicken patties that the campus mart on campus would sell. I remember always going after class to get one before they ran out for the day. I also miss the breadfruit bowls that locals would prepare as local street food. And last but not least, I miss the mac pie that would accompany most plates which is a macaroni and cheese casserole. I would get my mac pie with gravy in order to make it taste even better along with fried chicken and a side of salad.
- How have you changed since your time abroad?
My time abroad has definitely allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. It allowed me to think about my future career and gain an international perspective of the world which can help me with my future endeavors. It gave me the opportunity to learn about a new country and culture that was always of interest to me and gave me essential life skills that are needed not only as a global Gaucho, but as a global citizen.
- What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?
Do not let fear get in the way of embarking on the best decision of your life. I remember feeling discouraged to go abroad and worrying about finances if I decided to go. Once I walked into the EAP office and voiced my concerns I was advised and encouraged to pursue my program of interest. As the application deadline approached for my program I remember telling myself that I am making an investment in my future and growth as a professional. To this day it has been the best decision I have made in my entire life and it definitely allowed me to enrich my undergraduate education.