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Yulenda Timothy: "Studying abroad, I had to lose myself to find myself"

19 Aug 2020 10:00 AM | Gretchen McCarthy (Administrator)

Yulenda Timothy studies Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She studied at Loyola University New Orleans in the fall of 2019. Read about her ISEP experience and the skills she developed abroad in her own words:

STUDYING ABROAD, I HAD TO LOSE MYSELF TO FIND MYSELF

Travelled to New York for the first time.

From a young age, I have always been fascinated with the world. Be it from the people, the vast variety of food and flavours or even hearing different languages and seeing different cultures. I have always been one that shares with my friends and family the importance of expanding your borders and learning to become a better person every day. Being awarded an opportunity to participate in an ISEP Study Abroad program came at a time when I knew I was destined for change, and I was ready. Ready to take on a new challenge. Ready to explore the world, but most importantly, ready to find myself.

Being put in a new city, new environment and new culture can be quite an overwhelming experience, but it was one that I would not change. For very long I always claimed I knew what independence was, but it was only when I had to do everything for myself and by myself that I saw what true independence meant. With true independence comes true responsibility. I had to look at myself and realise that study abroad was not only teaching me how to navigate university, but it was also granting me a life skill. It taught me how to be a responsible adult. This goes to show the expected and unexpected revelations which studying abroad exposes you to.

The opportunity to look at modules I had been learning about from a completely different perspective was one of the most valuable skills from my entire experience. Allowing myself to see the world from various viewpoints is so important. To have a clear understanding of a diverse world, which has different voices and opinions is a skill I will not take for granted. Having advanced technology available to me on my campus allowed me to develop skills that I never would have been able to, if I hadn’t taken the leap to study abroad. The difference between many people reaching their full potential is access, and the access I received changed my life. This is one of the reasons I believe study abroad improved my life far beyond the classroom. These are skills I can now take into a professional environment and begin making a change in the world.

Walking the streets of the historic Treme in New Orleans.

One of the biggest takeaways I have from studying abroad is that you will learn just as much outside the classroom as you will inside it. There are simple experiences I had with locals in my city that impacted my life in many ways. Whether it be from a simple conversation at the bus stop to people you speak to while volunteering. Never take for granted the people that are put in your life by accident, or for a specific reason. As much as study abroad is for you to educate yourself it is also a chance to find yourself. Where you put yourself in your spare time can really make a difference in the person you become. Do not be afraid to be open, try new things, go to new places, speak to different people, make new friends and just live!

You cannot grow if you are comfortable. It takes you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to be a better you. This is what studying abroad did for me. I knew that with studying abroad, I had to lose myself to find myself. It exposed me to the version of myself I always knew I would be and now, I am every day.

Watching the Zulu Indian Tradition of New Orleans was one of the best experiences of my life.

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