A Global University

Study abroad is an essential part of the Husky Experience

Through global study, research or internships, students put their classroom learning into action. They gain self-knowledge, cultural competency and the skills necessary for success in today’s global workplaces. But what’s more, students come home with an appreciation and cultural understanding that would not be possible otherwise. This helps to foster a more accepting environment on our campuses, ensuring that the UW remains a place for people of all backgrounds to learn, discover and thrive.

These passionate students traveled the world in pursuit of learning and discovery. Their experiences are as boundless as their destinations.


Kenia Diaz in scrubs

Kenia Diaz

Hometown: Pasco, Washington
Major: English (pre-med)
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Health in the context of culture
Destination: India

Why did you choose your program?

My program was really unique because we got to shadow nurses in rural and urban areas. The doctors and nurses that I met were so awesome and funny and welcoming. I loved having a person there to explain everything to me. I know sciences from my studies at the UW, but I don’t know medicine very well yet.

Kenia Diaz sightseeingI still keep in touch with one of the nurses I shadowed. She introduced me to all of the important people in her department. When I told her I want to be a surgeon she introduced me to the head of surgery.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

Going to India really made me embrace my American and Mexican culture together. Before I had always felt like one or the other. Studying abroad made me appreciate my culture and identity more.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?Kenia Diaz in a sari

Even with two jobs, my parents have to work very hard just for simple things. They don’t have any money to help me with my education. Study abroad isn’t something that’s really in our plans and we don’t have money for it. Our money needs to go to basic things like rent and food.

My parents want me to experience big things like study abroad, and it’s hard for them not to be able to give them to me. It’s nice to be able to apply for scholarships so that I can have these experiences and not put any more financial burden on my parents.

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

Being there physically allowed me to engage in all of the emotions of the place. I got to have amazing hands-on experiences in India. But not only that, it helped me develop cultural competence, which is really important for healthcare providers. Sure, you could read about cultural differences in healthcare, but it was amazing to see it in person.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Kenia. Give now


Yeh-un Lee

Yeh-Eun Lee

Hometown: Auburn, Washington
Majors: Human Centered Design & Engineering and sociology
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Information, Technology and Society
Destination: South Korea

Why did you choose your program?

I looked into all of the study abroad programs you can choose from, and this one was the best fit for both of my majors. It was very applicable to my engineering and sociology majors – we looked at the differences in technology use between the two cultures – and going to South Korea allowed me to explore my cultural background. It was a chance to go deeper with what I am studying.

Also, the instructor, Matthew Saxton, is incredible. I speak Korean, but I didn’t know anything about the culture outside of TV shows. He connected us with many different aspects of Korean culture.

Yeh-un Lee at a palace

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

My study abroad group bonded on a deep level. We went hiking on the most challenging trail I have ever experienced. There were students from all different majors. We found common ground, and I made many good friends. They are my family now.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

Before I knew I had the scholarship, I was really worried about studying abroad and I did not know whether it was a good idea to take out loans to cover the costs. I was even thinking about withdrawing from the program because I was so worried about finances. Receiving the GO! Scholarship was a confirmation to me that I should go ahead.Yeh-un Lee in traditional clothing

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

Studying abroad helped me explore career options. While we were there, we took part in a research project. We had to collect and analyze research data, and present our findings at the end. My group looked at photo sharing content and behavior among U.S. and Korean students. We found that American students were more open with sharing, while Korean students were more private, but more research is needed.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Yeh-Eun. Give now


Wilson Charles at the EU

Wilson Charles

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Majors: Political science and philosophy
Study abroad program: Direct exchange with Sciences Po University
Destination: France

Why did you choose your program?

Sciences Po is one of the best schools in France to train people for public administration and public service. The educational environment was fantastic because I was able to take courses that aren’t offered at the UW. For example, I took a course about U.S. intelligence in partnership with European countries. I got first-hand experience with how influential and important the U.S. is in those countries.

Wilson Charles at the Royal Palace in BrusselsTell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

One thing that touched me was the historical aspect in Europe. I went to the place where the King of France would receive daily sacraments. Seeing the level of extravagance used on that space, when at the same time regular citizens of France were miserable. They were paying taxes but they didn’t get the services they needed, and that led to the French Revolution.

This is something that I can identify with because I grew up in Haiti, which used to be a French colony. It showed me how necessary it is to fight for equality.

I also realized that there’s still work to be done in Europe in terms of developing civic duty. As someone who is visually impaired, I saw people doing many things – like parking their cars everywhere and not picking up dog poop – that make it hard for people with disabilities to get around. But I learned to be more patient, more careful and to be respectful of new traditions and other societies.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

I had to budget carefully to go on my program. I had no option other than borrowing money. The scholarship helped me to borrow less money. That means I’ll be able to pay off my debt sooner and focus on my career in public service.Wilson Charles with a local police officer at the British Parliament

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

My experience in France strengthened my desire to work at the State Department as a legal adviser or even a diplomat. When you study abroad, you learn about the bureaucratic system in a different country. I gained perspective on American systems and an outside perspective on how the U.S. is seen by other countries. This will serve me well as a public servant.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Wilson. Give now


Bianca Birchfield

Bianca Birchfield

Hometown: Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Major: UW Bothell environmental studies
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Critical Perspectives on Ecotourism
Destination: Tanzania

Why did you choose your program?

I started out critical of study abroad. It bothered me that many programs seemed to focus on what others could learn from Americans rather than what we can learn from others. After reading my paper, my professor approached me and convinced me to go on the Tanzania program.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

Going on the study abroad was essential for the way that I raise my son – having gone on that study abroad I will be able to tell him about things and show him things that other people might overlook. Before going to Tanzania, I heard the word conservation and thought it was always a positive thing. Studying abroad really changed my understanding of the conservation sector. It is much more complex than I thought. I learned that conservation efforts have displaced many people. It does not always take equity into consideration.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

When my professor reached out to me about the program I immediately declined because I am a single mother of a very energetic preschooler. I could not imagine leaving my son for four weeks.

Bianca Birchfield with Tanzanian studentsDr. Krabill encouraged me to think it over. After talking to friends and family, I realized that I just could not pass up this chance. I saw that I could bring the experience back and share it with my son. Being a young mother, I never thought I would have the support and resources to study abroad. It has been my biggest challenge to raise him while finishing school and working. At the same time, he has always been my biggest motivation.

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

It opened up more possibilities for me about what I can do with my career. Now I am thinking more about education. I see it as the root of making things better. I am thinking about working in environmental education.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Bianca. Give now


Dalena Nguyen in ItalyDalena Nguyen

Hometown: Covington, Washington
Major: Public health
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Dark Empire
Destination: United Kingdom

Why did you choose your program?

I am really interested in looking at how race and ethnicity impacts health, so this class was perfect for me. It was really enriching to be able to go to the places that I was learning about in the classroom, and see actual evidence that race impacts health. Everything that we did – even theater productions that we saw – helped me see social inequality issues that need to be addressed.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

This was the first time that in my entire life going abroad. It was my first opportunity to travel at all, even outside the state.

Dalena NguyenOne of my issues is that I don’t put myself out there and I turn opportunities down because I have very limited funds and I keep myself on a very tight leash. I would rather be safe and not have to worry. I was accepted to the program before I received the scholarship. I thought, “there’s no harm in applying.” But when I got accepted I started to really worry about finances. I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t come back and be in a bad financial position. I started talking with other students, and they told me about the scholarship. After receiving the scholarship I reviewed my budget and saw that I could come back from my study abroad and be in a stable financial position. The scholarship allowed me to be at ease, before during and after my study abroad, to enjoy the experience and not be worried about my tuition statement.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

Studying abroad helped give me confidence that I could travel farther and visit other countries. Visiting London went more smoothly than I imagined, and I know I could do more. I would really like to travel more, and maybe work in developing countries, but I know that I need more experience here in the U.S. in order to be more able to help in other countries.

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

Going abroad solidified that I want to work on social justice issues. I am particularly interested in women’s health, and I see a lot of overlap between social work and public health. I want to figure out the best intersection between the two, because you can’t really look at someone’s health issues without looking at the rest of their life. Far out in the future, I might like to start my own community-based organization focused on holistic health.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Dalena. Give now


Daizha Brown with Milan cathedralDaizha Brown

Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Major: Business
Study abroad program: Departmental Exchange to Boconni University
Destination: Italy

Why did you choose your program?

I choose an exchange through the Foster School of Business so that I could take business courses during my study abroad. Italy stood out to me on the list of options because of the culture, food, and beauty. Milan is the fashion capitol of the world, so I knew that it would be a big vibrant city.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

I am the first person in my family to go to college, and nobody in my family has gone outside the US. I always, always wanted to study abroad. It was the one thing I wanted to do, but I had no idea how I would make it happen.

Daizha Brown in BerlinReceiving a scholarship helped me not to stress so much about budgeting. It gave me enough room to cover my basic expenses and do all of the fun things that I wanted to experience. It also allowed me some small extras like a cell phone that I wanted to have for safety reasons.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

I still keep in touch with many of the other American exchange students that I met in Italy. Studying abroad helped me build a network of business students across the US who are also interested in international issues.

Daizha BrownHow will your study abroad help you in your future career?

Being able to be a problem solver in a foreign setting and thinking outside the box is a big skills that I developed. I learned to ask questions. I’m interested in becoming a consultant with diverse clients and international backgrounds, so I think that having the experience of being in my home country and studying abroad will really help me.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Daizha. Give now


Yesenia Velasquez in the Atlas MountainsYesenia Velasquez

Hometown: Yakima, Washington
Major: Gender, women & sexuality studies and business
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Triple impact
Destination: Morocco

Why did you choose your program?

The program was perfect for me because it helped me connect my two majors. It was all about considering social, financial and environmental impact.Yesenia Velasquez in Morocco 

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

Studying abroad had always been a dream, because I knew it would have a big impact on me as a student and a person. My parents didn’t go to college, so they don’t have any experience with study abroad. They saw it as a financial burden because just my tuition is already a big burden. As a family, we decided that there was no way I could go on the program without a scholarship. It would have been too expensive for us. Having a scholarship helped me to have this great experience.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

I grew a lot as a leader while I was in Morocco. Part of our trip was going on a 3-day trek across the Atlas mountains. I am not much of an athlete, and I’m afraid of heights. There were times that I didn’t want to go on. Yesenia Velasquez with fellow UW students in MoroccoBut I worked together with my group to keep everyone going.

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

One of our major projects was to write a grant for local farmers. We had to interview the farmers and be respectful of their time, and make sure that their needs were met. I pushed myself to understand things from their perspective. It was challenging to write the grant as a group, and make sure that we were accountable to the farmers. After having that experience, I saw that writing and applying for grants can really have a big impact on people in need. In the future, I would like to write grants for a living and help others through that work.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Yesenia. Give now


Feruza Ghias on a boatFeruza Ghias

Hometown: Shoreline, Washington
Major: UW Bothell community psychology and Society, Ethics & Human Behavior
Study abroad program: Exploration Seminar: Migrations, health and social justice in the Mediterranean
husky100badgeDestination: Italy

Why did you choose your program?

The program deals with social issues. I want to do humanitarian work after I graduate, either as an educator or a social worker. I know I want to empower people through my work, maybe working in the University setting. Studying abroad allowed me to see how people from other cultures deal with problems that we also deal with.

We visited a refugee center, and instructor asked us to draw a picture of what we want for our future. The American students and refugee students drew our pictures and compared. We learned that we basically want the same things – get an education, get a job, and have a family. We all want stability.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

Feruza Ghias making pastaMy parents are very protective of me and they do not think it is safe for girls to travel abroad alone. I had to sit down with my parents and talk to them about why they should consider letting me go. Receiving a scholarship was essential in showing them how important it is to study abroad.

Tell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

It changed me personally because I had never traveled alone before I studied abroad. I flew all the way across the world on my own. I managed to do it and I was fine!

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

I came back with more confidence about my ability to serve others. Working with people from other cultures and vulnerable populations can be challenging, and I learned that I can handle those challenges. I feel capable of doing that work now.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Feruza. Give now


Angela Li

Hometown: Bothell, Washington
Major: Business
Study abroad program: Direct exchange to Peking University’s Guanghua School of ManagementAngela Li in China
Destination: China

Why did you choose your program?

I was attracted to my program because it allowed me to develop my Chinese while living in a global business hub. I’m Chinese American, and it was very important for me to get more context and history about my family and my background. I wanted to get prepared for the possibility of working there after college. In the U.S., people make a lot of statements about what it’s like in China, and what it’s like to do business there. I wanted to understand for myself.

Did you have concerns about studying abroad?

I thought I would need to continue working while abroad. Receiving a scholarship had a big impact on my experience. Without the scholarship I would have worked remotely 15 hours a week while studying abroad. With the scholarship I was able to cut down significantly on my hours and focus much more on the experience. I was more involved in campus activities, meet more people, and spend more time exploring the city. It gave me much more time than I thought I would have.

Angela Li in Tiananmen SquareTell us about something unexpected that you got out of the experience.

I learned so much about the cultural context and implications that I would never have learned in the classroom – the finer details, things that you would never think to do a whole lecture on. Those things are really important if you are going to do business there.

How will your study abroad help you in your future career?

I’ve always had a lot of interest in one day working abroad, but it was always a scary far off idea and I wasn’t sure if it would come to fruition. Being abroad and immersed in another culture set me up to actually make that happen.


Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Angela. Give now


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Though passionate, these students faced financial challenges. They received a Global Opportunities scholarship to support their international learning experience. Help us empower more students to pursue their dreams and prepare for success in today’s global communities and workplaces.

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