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Jessica Tuttle

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: global studies, environmental studies- sustainability
Program: API Portugal summer language intensive
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Term: summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I had been taking Portuguese classes here at UNC and wanted to be immersed in the language, so the summer program was a good fit.


What did you learn about yourself?
While I have always considered myself very independent and like to do my own thing, through the organized activities I learned that I can really benefit from the organization and being with a group! Becoming friends with the other UNC students there with me was a really crucial part of my experience including being able to socialize with other international students.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
During one of our weekend excursions, we took a trip to the southern coast of Portugal in Lagos. We took a kayak tour of the beaches and went around the huge cliffs that border the ocean, and we even went inside some caves. I was really bad at kayaking, but the views were enough to make up for it. My favorite part was actually the boatride back to shore when they stopped to let us jump off into the water and our whole group jumped in. It was freezing water!


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
If you are doing a program where you'll be with other students, go in with an open mind and make an effort to bond (even if you probably would never at home!) because it makes the trip way better. Go out as much as you can every day!


Would you do it again?
I would definitely do it again!


How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
The class I took was just the one Portuguese class, but it was different from the ones I was used to. The teacher of the class spoke solely in Portuguese and never translated into English speficially because all the students were from all over the world. The classes at UNC usually gave instructions in English and we had parts of class where we practiced speaking in Portuguese, so having no English at all was difficult (I actually ended up moving down a level from where I had been placed). I was also worried about having a 10am-1pm class M-F, but it did not seem that long becase they worked breaks into the schedule every day. After classes everyone usually had lunch together at the schools cafeteria, which made it easy to make friends too.


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


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
In terms of being a covenant scholar, money and budgeting was a concern for me even though I had saved up for the trip. I was concerned at first that the people I would be with would be more interested in travelling to other places in Europe or doing costly tourist activities, which could have held me back from socializing. I found that everyone shared some similar interests in activities and keeping a budget, so I was never isolated in that way. It was also easy to find an alternate activity and someone willing to go with me if I ever felt like one thing wasn't worth the money. Overall I never felt like I missed out by sometimes going in another direction!


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Spend money on things you feel like you'll regret not seeing/doing, but be comfortable passing on things you don't really care about. You definitely don't have to do every single thing that other want to do in order to be social. Being abroad is a good opportunity to grow your independence and go out on your own or reach out to others you've met while there. Definitely do not feel embarrassed to have a budget!


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
Our API advisor Carlos was amazing to have for support while in Portugal. He was very approachable and had a great sense of humor, which was a plus. He even offered to accompany us to the doctors office as a translator if we ever needed to go. Also the other UNC students and I all became very close and helped each other out.


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