What prompted you to go?
I have always observed stereotypes as a form of oppressing other ethnic groups. In LA, I have been exposed to different kinds of nationalities. Though, I have never lived in an environment that is not mainly American or Mexican based. It felt as if most of my life, I was just settled. I needed to be challenged and to be out of my comfort zone. Being in Puerto Rico with NSE, opened up my eyes and helped me become a more grateful person. I have learned to appreciate the Puerto Rican culture more and I have embraced my Mexican background as well.
What is your major?
My major is Television and Film with a Broadcast Journalism option. I am also working towards earning a minor in Law and Society. While being in exchange, I gathered good judgment regarding the Boricua television industry and learned how their juvenile delinquency program works.
Generally how did you pay for it? How long/how much did you save? (Combo Fin-Aid, Scholarships & Savings)
I had two scholarships (together they accounted for $4500), financial aid, some savings and I worked a part time job for the summer. Before I applied, I thought it was going to be too expensive. After I was accepted I made an approximate budget of how much it was: it was more affordable than I thought it could be. Yes, you are going to need money: but the likelihood of you having to work two jobs full time to pay for it, is far away from happening. The summer before I left to PR, consisted of going to school and working part time. Paying for your expenses is more realistic and approachable that you can imagine. You only need to manage your time well.
How is your life different now that you’ve completed an educational exchange?
I can genuinely say that my life is divided into two parts: before and after NSE. I noticed that I am more outgoing and I think more critically. I am more grateful about living everyday to the fullest. I have become more patient and I understand different perspectives of distinct nationalities. I experienced culture shock and was OK with it. Life is not about being settled; is about challenging yourself constantly. NSE gave me that, and can YOU that as well.
Try thinking about yourself before you went abroad compared to now socially, academically, career goals etc. Why would you encourage your fellow CSULA students to go on NSE?
Because, I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE! I can honestly say that socially, career wise and academically, I couldn’t have done something better. I broke stereotypes and traveling thru Puerto Rico gave me the best addiction there is: traveling! I am obsessed with learning about new cultures and dialects. Think about it: if we as students were exposed to other kinds of cultures, stereotypes will be literally non-existent. We would all comprehend more about each other and appreciate our upbringings. Studying in exchange or abroad should not be something that only few people do: it should be a requirement for every single student. My experience in Puerto Rico was way better than what I had imagined.
The only mistake that I made regarding NSE was not doing this before.