Office of Global Affairs

June 20, 2019

Preparing for what’s next with study abroad

Erika Arias ‘19 could be a poster child for UW Study Abroad. During her time as a Husky, this Chelan, Washington native participated in six – count them! – overseas experiences Erika in Spainacross Asia, Europe and Africa.

Along the way, Erika’s confidence grew and she developed a deep interest in comparative politics, international relations and conflict resolution. And she is taking those passions to the next level by pursuing a PhD in political science after graduation.

Start with support

Faculty-led study abroad programs helped Erika grow as a student and find her place at the UW. Her first trip was a pre-freshman seminar in Spain with lots of extra support Erika and her fellow travelers. “We were always in groups,” she remembers, “and we had name tags.”

Erika in JapanThe next summer, she was off for Tokyo, where she partnered with UW and Waseda University students on a mini-research project on Japanese hip hop. By her senior year, she had created so many connections through study abroad that bumped into a fellow study abroad student pretty much daily on her way to class.

Sparking passion

Study abroad also sparked Erika’s interest in international development and guided her towards a double major in Law, Societies & Justice and International Studies. “It started with my program in north Africa and Southern Spain, where our classes were all in Spanish and we were focused on migration and international policy,” she shares.Erika in China

Immersive exploration of places and themes with the support of world class faculty allowed Erika to see her academic interests from many perspectives. “Each study abroad program was completely different,” Erika says, and each one offered new insight into her course of study.

Striking out on her own

“I developed a track record through study abroad… it shows I can be successful working and living outside the U.S.” Through study abroad, Erika’s confidence grew along with her knowledge and skills. On her university exchange program in France, “I didn’t know anyone, and I had to speak French to connect with people,” she remembers.Erika in Italy

Erika is now embarking on another exciting adventure – pursuing a PhD in political science at Syracuse University. “I will have to do dissertation research outside the country,” she says. “My experience as a Husky shows that I’m knowledgeable and ready.” Study abroad prepared her for what’s next.


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