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Lailah Rodríguez Brache – University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, 2011

School:  Social and Human Sciences
Major:  Psychology
Program Type:  ISEP Direct Summer Program

"I never thought I would ever study abroad and now I am happy to say that my study abroad experience was the most incredible experience in my life. The overall experience of studying abroad --making new friends, learning about a new culture, eating different foods and talking in a new language-- had an unforgettable impact on me academically, as well as personally. While I was taking courses at the University of Hyderabad in India, I gained vast knowledge of Indian culture in addition to learning how to read and write the Hindi language. The Hindi course was very interesting. I never thought I would be able to learn the grammar and spelling of such a complex and different scripture. I could feel the cultural shock from the very first second I stepped foot in India. Everything seemed to be so different and new to me. Being in India showed me that I have the ability to adapt myself to a new culture, and still feel like I am part of it and not a stranger. Indian culture is very extraordinary and full of diversity at the same time.

One remarkable and unique experience that I had while staying in India was when I volunteered to teach children in a school. The children were in very needy conditions and they were living in a very underprivileged school located inside the University of Hyderabad campus. The group included children of all ages, from babies and toddlers; to children ages five to ten. The other students and I taught them words in English, like the colors, the numbers, etc. They were all very enthusiastic about learning how to speak in English. We couldn’t do much for them, but at the end we all felt really content to see how happy they were to have us teaching them in their school and putting smiles on their faces.

I was awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to help cover the costs of my study abroad program in India and was required to complete a special project for the Gilman Scholarship Program to promote study abroad at my university. My project consisted of a personal “Study Abroad Blog” that I used to share my experiences in India with my classmates in Puerto Rico. While I was abroad, I was able to do a post on my blog once a week talking about my study abroad experiences.

My goal was to inspire all the students from my home institution to study abroad by keeping them updated about my great experiences in India. Moreover, I wanted to let them know that study abroad is possible, thanks to the scholarships that are available. I believe that my blog was a very helpful tool to make the students at my university sees through my experience that we can all achieve our academic goals.

Unfortunately, not all the students, including myself, have the financial support to afford studying abroad on our own. This is why, along with the UNE International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) Coordinator and Gilman Scholarship Advisor, I am introducing students at my university to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program." - Click here to visit Lailah's "Study Abroad Blog"

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