Preparing to Study Abroad: Central America and Europe

About Me:

My name is Katy Sobodos. I’m an incoming junior from Detroit, Michigan. My major is Management Information Systems and my minor is Geography. I am going on the faculty-led program, UA in Belize: Rainforests and Reefs: Tropical Conservation in Belize, as well as a program through a UA Affiliate, CEA Prague, Czech Republic – Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences. I can’t describe how excited I am for these two amazing programs.

Why I Am Going Abroad:

When I was headed into my freshman year at UA, I asked my cousin what her most valuable piece of advice was for college. She responded with “Make sure you study abroad.” Ever since then, I knew that I would study abroad. I figured I would go somewhere in Europe, but thanks to a lucky email from the Business School, I’m also going to Central America. I decided to study abroad in Belize because of my geography minor and interest in the oceans. I decided to study abroad in Prague because I have always wanted to study abroad in Europe and I wanted to go to a well-known city that was smaller than a place like London or Berlin. I know it may sound crazy expensive to do both programs, but I ended up using my UA Presidential scholarship to pay for my study abroad adventures!

Preparing to Go Abroad:

I had to pack for two trips at once. I will be flying from Belize to Prague over 24 hours because my program start and end dates are one day apart from each other. It’s kind of stressful trying to pack for two different climates, sets of activities, and cultural norms, as well as fitting my snorkel gear into my luggage as well. I packed one suitcase to be checked as well as one duffel bag and backpack to take on the planes with me. I have all of my things for Belize in my duffel bag since I’ll basically only need swimsuits, casual clothes, and my snorkel stuff. My clothes for Prague and all of my toiletries are in my suitcase and my laptop, shoes, and important documents (plane tickets, passport, money, etc.) are in my backpack. It’s going to be interesting lugging all of this across Belize, but I’m sure it will be fine.

I want to make sure that I’m as prepared as possible to avoid being uncomfortable in my new homes, so I have done a ton of research. I’ve learned a few basic phrases in Czech, looked up cultural differences, and researched what the weather will be like in each place. I know that there will be culture shock in each place that I visit and I’ll get hit with it twice as hard. It will be difficult transitioning from Belize to Prague in 24 hours (and an 8 hour time difference), but I know that I will be okay because I tend to be pretty laid back and I’ve done my research.

I can’t wait to start my journey. I know that I’ll learn so much, not just in class, but about other cultures and myself. I know that I will miss all of my family and friends back home, but I think that having this experience will be so valuable that I don’t want to pass it up. I am a little nervous about Belize because I am not a typical “outdoorsy” person. I don’t like the heat, bugs, etc. However, I know that I will have experiences of a lifetime, from snorkeling in coral reefs to exploring Prague and as much of Europe as I can. I hope that I will learn from other cultures and be able to take a few things back to the US to enrich the rest of my life.

Pictured: Belize Airport!

Author: Katherine S

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