Ashlee Knapik

Class of 2019

"I decided to study abroad because I have always wanted to travel, and doing a semester abroad is the best way to get the most out of your money. I knew I would never have the chance again to spend 5 months overseas with the opportunity to travel that much without having to worry about life obligations. I studied abroad at the University of Hull in England. I took three courses, but all of those credit hours were also able to be applied to my Honors Global Awareness requirements for the CAP Program. While being able to learn in a global setting was rewarding, being able to travel to any European country whenever I wanted was definitely my favorite part of my study abroad experience. The flights are super cheap in Europe! I had many round trip tickets cost less than $50. I visited 11 countries while in Europe including Scotland, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and France. My three favorites were Iceland, Germany, and the Netherlands! On top of learning so much about other cultures and how people live their day-to-day lives differently, I also grew as a person in ways that I didn't expect. Studying abroad was by far the best time of my undergraduate career at UIS. I would do anything to be able to relive those moments again."

Crystal Terrazas

Class of 2018

"During the Winter break of 2018, I studied abroad in Cuba. To this day, it has been one of the best experiences in my life. From the moment that we got up and until the moment that we went to sleep, we were always doing something. We got to experience the “Cuban Life” such as eating their foods or going to their markets. The most important thing was that we were able to hear the Cuban perspective on many different issues. Every day we spoke to people who specialized in certain subjects. We had a private Cuban Musician group to play for us, they taught us about the different rhythms that exists in the Cuban Music. During our visit to the Art Museum in Havana, we were able to speak to a professor that explained the different types of Cuban arts that exist and their history. We visited the University of Havana and spoke to a recent graduate who took us on a tour. We spoke to a famous Cuban Olympic Volleyball player, with a Famous Artist well known in Cuba who spoke to us about his commitment to the program he started for children in his community.

We got to visit the different health sectors in Cuba and spoke to the family doctor in one community, as well as another doctor that was part of the middle health sector. We were able to take a tour of the hospital and learn about what they do and how there system works. We went to the Bay of Pigs Museum, and listened to the their story of this piece of history. We also got a private lesson from a women that works for the government to teach people around the country about Cuban music and dance. We also got a private dance lesson from her. We visited Cienega de Zapata, their swamp lands, and spoke to a biologist and another individual in charge of different wildlife conservation programs. We visited a parrot farm. We had the opportunity to have a children’s choir group sing to us and teach us about the famous Children songs in Cuba. We also had a women teach about the African-Cuban religion. They spoke to us about their jobs and it rules, regulations, and history; as well as their own opinions and experiences while doing all of this. The best thing about the experience is that we were always encouraged to ask questions, those in the official settings that we had and even with those that we passed by and encountered on a daily basis.

The semester before going to Cuba, the students that went had to take a class. We read and learned about the different policies and regulations in Cuba. We learned about their culture and their history. None of this really could have prepared us to see this in person. Yes, we were able to see if the rules and regulations that the government had set, such as keeping their environment and wildlife safe, was true- and it was. However, being there in person to see the culture, it’s history, the music, the art, and much more was very different. The love that the people have for their country, is more than just their version of what patriotism is. It is hard to explain or put down in words, but it’s a sight that I think everyone deserves to see firsthand."

Max Stewart

Class of 2017

"For the first semester of my senior year I went To Brussels, Belgium through the UIS Study Abroad Program. I attended classes at IHECS, an international school in Brussels. Rather than just being immersed in the Belgian Culture I was able to meet and make friends with people from as far away as South Korea and Brazil. Unlike Springfield, Brussels is a large city as well as being the headquarters of the European Union. It was truly unique and eye opening to live and attend classes in such a cultural crossroads."