Janese Julien participated in the Comparative Criminal Justice Systems in the Netherlands study abroad program during the summer of 2016. Now that a year has gone by, Janese has reflected on how her study abroad experience has transformed her.
How does study abroad still have an impact on your life today?
Being able to travel and go to a new place where I wasn’t exactly comfortable, having to learn how to be comfortable with ambiguity, and having to truly adapt; studying abroad impacted my life by teaching me how to be more welcoming and accepting of things that I’m not really used to. Now, when I see something that I’m not used to, I don’t just write it off. I allow myself to give things a chance first.
Explain a situation you experienced abroad in which you learned a new skill.
I learned cross-cultural communication. The situation in which I learned it was while on a scavenger hunt for one of the assignments. We had to be able to navigate and find our way around Amsterdam, which was especially hard because none of knew or understood Dutch. So, we had to strategize and find a way to be able to communicate with those on the street so that they could help us. Technology really helped with this because we could show them where we wanted to go and they could aid us with how to get there.
How did study abroad change your perspective of the world and yourself?
It changed my perspective of the world by allowing me to see and experience for myself that there are truly genuine people in the world who can welcome you with open arms without even knowing anything about you. Studying abroad softened my heart to the world. We live in a time in which everyone is just so cruel and always trying to out another group of people based on their race, sex, or sexual orientation, but studying abroad helped me see that in Europe, no matter what you identify as, you’re accepted, and it made me more hopeful for the future of America.
It also changed the perspective I had of myself by allowing me to be more accepting of myself and truly love myself despite what anyone else might say or think of me. Studying abroad pushed me to be more independent and that forced me to spend more time with myself. This time with myself resulted in that new positive perspective of who I am.
Share a completely unexpected experience you had while you were abroad. What did you learn from it?
A completely unexpected experience I had was going to Europride, which is a much bigger and extravagant version of the Pride Parade in Seattle. It was unexpected because I didn’t know it was going to be going on at the time I would be there and I originally hadn’t planned on going. What I overall learned is that humans are beautiful and there’s no reason for an individual to feel hated for any reason. Being in that atmosphere, I also learned that it’s important to just live in the moment.
What do you wish you would have known before you studied abroad?
I wish I would have known how much fun it was going to be and how much I was going to learn. Had I known I would have participated many more Study Abroad programs in my college career. I know each place is different and there’s so much you can take away that will and can be of value in one’s life.
How did studying abroad positively affect your personal, professional, or academic life?
Studying abroad positively affected my personal life by giving me so much information to bring home to teach those around me. It’s been almost a year and I’m still able to plant seeds and give fruitful knowledge to people from the things that I learned.