Office of International Programs

OIP Peer: Gretchen

Meet Gretchen

Hometown: Missoula, MT
Studied Abroad: Havana, Cuba - Fall 2012 & Stockholm, Sweden - Spring 2013
Concentration: Environmental Studies
Graduation: Spring 2014

Gretchen's Experience Abroad

Q: Advice for students who are planning to study abroad:

A. Take time choosing where you want to go. First do a little background research and then seriously consider what it is you are looking for during your time abroad. Do you want to be challenged? Do you want to be exposed to a knew language or improve the skills you already have. Do you want to be in a new environment, or something that reminds you of home? Are you looking to meet people, research a certain topic, or even throw yourself into the unknown? Ask yourself as many questions as you can, then start narrowing the list down!

Q: Something you wish you had known before going abroad:

A. Time tricks you. Each day may seem like an infinity; you can wake up in Havana, go to class, participate in a protest on the way to your boxing class, then grab lunch with a veteran from the revolution, take a bus two hours out of the city to help harvest pineapples at a farm and then camp under the stars listening to sounds of jazz float up from town. But the months that you are away disappear. Before you know it you have been gone for two months, you are over the halfway mark and your To-do list is just getting longer. Its like being stuck in the twilight zone, but don’t bother fretting, just enjoy it!

Q: What do you miss most about your time abroad?

A. Trying new things every day. New food, new places, new words new people. Each time you walk out the door it feels like you are going into a whole new world. Even after three months in Havana, I discovered new things every single day. That is not to say that it can not happen here at Brown too, but being abroad, it is guaranteed!

Q: Why did you decide to study abroad?

A. I am addicted to the unknown! Studying abroad is one of the greatest adventures, and you could never guess the outcome of your time away. Integrating within a completely different culture and lifestyle will be life changing no matter what, how can you say no to that?!

Q: If you were planning to study abroad again, where would you go?

A. Madagascar!

Q: What are some of the most important things you learned?

A. Finding Duro-Frio (Cuba’s best ice cream), memorizing Stockholm’s transportation system, and communicating with everyone from Cuban chess masters to Swedish Urban Planners, no matter the language. 

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