UMKC Students Share Their Study Abroad Experiences


Students who study abroad gain unique learning experiences of culture and education. (Lauren Colette, Vanessa Lara, Adriana Suarez)

Catia Montelongo, Writer

  Students from UMKC study abroad in countries all over the world – gaining a unique experience as they learn a new custom and culture. 

  Three students share their insight on receiving an education outside of the U.S. and how others interested in studying abroad can have the best venture possible.


  For the first time ever, senior English major Lauren Colette is studying abroad, participating in a direct exchange program all the way from Cork, Ireland.

 Colette has resided in the city for a little over a month and has already traveled to Kinsale and Dublin.

  “Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, but I found that it doesn’t really feel that way,” Colette said. “It is very close-knit, safe. It reminds me a lot of the Midwest, where everyone kind of helps each other out.”

  Colette often steps outside of her comfort zone during her trip.

  “You definitely have to put yourself out there a little more than you would at home,” Colette said. “I wouldn’t recommend staying in your little corner, especially when you’re all alone in a new country. It’s better to have others to rely on.”

  Colette recommends packing ahead of time to help with the transition of living in another country.

  “It can be difficult to find the things you are used to at home like charging adapters or even rain boots,” Colette said. “It’s the little things that will make you the most comfortable when you’re away from home.”


  Senior Vanessa Lara, a double major in Spanish language and literature and business administration, spent the past spring semester in Spain.

  Because of her fluency in Spanish, Lara had the opportunity of taking classes with local students.

  “This doesn’t change the fact that the culture is very different from what I am used to,” Lara said. “In Spain, everyone greets each other with a hug and a kiss, even if they don’t know you. I, on the other hand, like my space between strangers.” 

  Lara holds many different areas of Spain dear to her heart. Alcalá de Henares, a town one hour away from Madrid, felt like a home away from home for the study abroad student.

  For Lara, keeping an easy-going attitude and welcoming the new customs of Spanish culture elevated her out-of-country experience.

  “Don’t expect everything to be like home,” Lara said. “Being open-minded helped [me] in ways I could have never imagined. I now know that if I were to be offered a job internationally, I can do it.”

South Korea

   Adriana Suarez, a senior studying nonprofit management, spent her 2022 spring semester in South Korea.

  Suarez said most study abroad students, including herself, often feel an initial sadness when leaving their home country.

  “Something that isn’t talked about enough is the idea that it’s OK to have culture shock,” Suarez said. “I remember crying and wondering if I made the right decision after I left. It took time, but — at the end of the day — it was one of the best things I have ever done.”

  Suarez urges future study abroad students to immerse themselves in the country’s culture before visiting.

  “Really know the country you are going to,” Suarez said. “I would recommend doing research, even learning some of their language. That’s what I did before going to South Korea, and it helped me a lot.”

  After living in a foreign country by herself, Suarez has changed how she approaches life.

  “Because of this experience, I am no longer the person I was before,” she said. “I’m now putting myself out there, trying new things, and meeting new people.”

  For more details on studying abroad, register for their weekly information sessions on Roo Groups. 

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