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Alexis Byrd

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: English, Creative Writing
Program: Chinese University of Hong Kong International Summer School
Location: Hong Kong
Term: Summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
One of my work study coworkers went on the same study abroad trip last year, and she encouraged me to apply.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am capable of traveling alone and adapting to new cultural norms, as well as making friends while outside of my comfort zone.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
On our first full day in Hong Kong, a couple of my UNC peers and I decided to explore the Kowloon side of the city. We spent the evening walking around Tsim Sha Tsui and watched the Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong's famous light show. It was a brilliant start to the trip...we were already making friends and we just had so much hope for the rest of the summer.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Don't stress out so much ahead of time. Among my study abroad friends, extreme stress prior to the trip was a common denominator, and honestly the trip itself was so navigable. Studying abroad is a life-changing, amazing'll get to your destination, and you'll meet people who will help you adapt and have a great time.


Would you do it again?


How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
Studying in Hong Kong allowed me to access outside, global perspectives on important international issues. I learned to navigate language barriers and different cultural norms, and I managed to develop a greater sense of independence traveling alone in a foreign country. All of these things will surely help me as I work in the technical writing field, where I will be expected to appeal to a range of perspectives and expectations.


How do you identify?
First Generation College Student, Covenant Scholars


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Being a Covenant Scholar helped me bond with other Covenants on the trip--we understood each other in unique ways, and we actually budgeted together since we had very similar funds available for the trip.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
If you're a first-gen whose parents have never traveled abroad, don't let that daunt you. Likewise, if you're a Covenant and money is tight, have faith. Your trip, in both cases, is going to be amazing and so, so worth it. Step outside your comfort zone. Learn and grow.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I usually turned to the program director in my study abroad location for program-specific issues. For more general study abroad things, I turned to students I knew at UNC who had studied abroad previously, especially ones who'd studied in my location as well. They had invaluable insight.