About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Sociology major and Environmental Justice minor
Program: API Semester Business, Humanities, and Social Sciences in Lisbon
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Term: Spring 2023
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted the opportunity to learn and develop skills in an unfamiliar setting, with plenty of challenges and rewards available. I chose API in Lisbon because I knew I wanted to learn a language I had no background in, and I wanted to experience life in a big city with a strong sense of identity, but also international influence.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned how to be independent. I had never lived in a big city before, so learning how to use public transportation, how to get around in a country that doesn't speak my language, and even how to grocery shop in a Portuguese grocery store was extremely valuable. I also learned the importance of moving through the world with an open mind. I made such a beautifully diverse and global group of friends because I learned to uphold open mindedness and remain nonjudgemental toward new foods, friends, music, etc.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program is an excursion our API group took to Porto. It was extremely special to be able to explore the country we were living in with a group of equally as curious and motivated students. We took a cultural and historic tour of the city, had a food and drink tasting event in the city center to try all of the local and traditional foods, and even had free time to explore. I took a few hours on my own to visit some art exhibits and live music. We finished the day at a wine cave tour and took the bus back to Lisbon that evening. It brought me so much closer to both my API cohort and to Portugal itself.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I would tell them that there are so many nets in place for when you face difficulties. There are so many people and resources, whether through UNC, your institution or program abroad, or foreign help services that are all dedicated to making you feel supported. It can be difficult to ask for help when you are in a new place and stimulated by new things but I would constantly remind them that there are people who's job it is to support you.
How do you identify?
LGBTQ+, Transfer Student
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
I think being a transfer student really aided my ability to move to a new community. Overall I think being a transfer student gave me some of the tools to be able to adjust to a new climate. Being a queer student can be challenging at UNC, and can potentially make an abroad experience more special or scary, depending on the place. I think it's valuable to know the political undertones of the city you're studying in, and in my case, Lisbon was such an incredible place to help foster my queerness.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
More from the question above, but make sure you are very aware of the political ideologies surrounding your identity in the countries you study or visit. Talking with young people or students who have lived there, or currently do is very helpful.
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
My API advisors were so kind and always available to help.