Gabrella Bahilu

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Media and Journalism, Communication Studies
Program: National University of Singapore
Location: Singapore
Term: Summer 2019


In what ways do you feel that you learned and grew during your global experience? Could you share a particular memory from your time abroad where you learned something important about yourself or your host culture?

My study abroad trip to Singapore taught me more about myself than I had ever expected. There were very few African Americans in the program and even in the country itself so it was sort of a culture shock for both me and the locals. I didn't expect people to be as curious as they were about my hair (it was in long braids at the time), culture and nationality. I had a lot of people come up to me and want to ask question or even want to take photos with me which made me very uncomfortable. However, I had to quickly understand that their questions, statement and even pictures came from a place of curiosity and it was an opportunity for me to explain my identity and culture. I slowly gained confidence in myself and became comfortable in candidly carrying myself as an African American women no matter where I was or who I was with. After that experience, I understood the importance of asking and answering questions to have a conversation to educate one another.


What are your life plans after UNC Graduation?

I would love to work in an industry that allows me to travel and create. Possibly working in an ad agency or production studio would be ideal. I'm also open to taking a gap year and traveling on my own and making fun Youtube videos about solo traveling and maybe van life!


How do you think studying abroad prepared for you for your next steps post graduation?

I believe study abroad allowed me to be a better communicator overall. It's crazy how quickly you can become friends with strangers in just a short amount of time. I got a chance to speak with so many people from all over the world that I normally wouldn't get to which allowed me to hear different stories, journeys, passions, interests, etc. It helped me be more understanding and emphatic to others as I got to dive deep into intentional and meaningful conversations. Also, because of study abroad and the experiences of solo traveling, I feel confident enough to move to a new city, state or even country when looking for career opportunities. The idea of independence and change excites me and I don't think I would feel as confident about it if it wasn't for study abroad.


As you reflect back on your undergraduate experience, what words of wisdom do you want to share with your fellow Tar Heels?

Do as much as you can! Don't let opportunities pass you by because you don't feel qualified or capable enough. Imposter syndrome is real but don't let it stop you from making those unforgettable memories. There are so many resources available to help you succeed or make your dreams happen you just need to seek them out.


Gabrella Bahilu Gabrella Bahilu Gabrella Bahilu Gabrella Bahilu Gabrella Bahilu