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Olivia Mwangi

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Double majoring in Biology and Medical Anthropology with a minor in chemistry
Program: DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia
Location: Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and Greece. I also did extra traveling in Italy and Switzerland
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose study abroad because I believe that during your time in college is one of the best times to experience it! You are already in a new environment meeting other college students so


What did you learn about yourself?
I love being in the outdoors and hiking in Ireland has always been something on my bucket list! I learned that I am not afraid to go off-path during hikes. Our tour guide had his dog lead us so it was a fun experience to follow a dog during the hike.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memory from studying abroad is when our class took a study tour to Ireland and we went on a class hike to the Howth Cliffs!


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
There is always someone next to you probably experiencing the same thing you are so you always have someone to talk to! My program planned events and excursions as a class so we were together a lot, meaning we opened up with each other about any uncertainties we were facing. If your class isn't with you, a local you are with can sense your anxiety and they are just as helpful if you open up to them! I ended up extending my time abroad and was nervous because I booked a paragliding session in Switzerland. Luckily my tour guide noticed my anxiety and talked me through the entire process.


How do you identify?
Student of color, First Generation College Student, Covenant Scholars, Scholarship Recipient, $5,000 Summer Study Abroad Fellowship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Being a person of color played a role in my time abroad. I was more so aware that I was not seeing a lot of people who looked like me when I was abroad, or even within my program. I took two courses within the DIS program and I was the only black/African American within my courses. I was definitely more self aware of my identity when I was abroad.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
It is going to be a little weird because UNC is very diverse so you don't fully think about being the only black person around you. I would say be patient with the locals around you, they are not as exposed to black people as an American would so there could be certain situations where you explain certain things such as hair texture but you should know that their questions are because they just do not understand it. They want to learn and we should be open to teaching them.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
The Gilman scholarship offered resources and so does the study abroad website!