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In honor of International Education Week (IEW), the Office of International Student Programs will spotlight students each day who have shared what international education means to them. IEW is an initiative driven by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that encourages educational institutions to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. The Office of International Student Programs is sponsoring activities and events all week, in collaboration with various campus departments, student clubs and community organizations. You can view the full schedule events by clicking here.

Our second student spotlight is Tyler Gates ’18, an international relations and German major who studied abroad at Katholische Universität Eichstätt in Germany.

How have your personal values been altered or strengthened after your study abroad experience?
“I have more values that were strengthened while abroad rather than altered. First, my social skills definitely sky rocketed! I actively went out of my way to get to know everyone I met and spoke with them in either German or English. I was curious to learn about their lives and culture. My global awareness has always been high due to my major (International Relations) but while abroad I was opened to a multitude of differing opinions from students all around the world. It was really amazing to learn the opinions about America and its political system from students who were from Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Germany and Spain.

Another personal value that was definitely strengthened while abroad was my ability to stay calm and have patience! Staying calm was one of the first things that was tested while in Germany. Getting off of the bus at the train station in the little town, where nobody is waiting for you and after hours of travel is really frightening. I was alone and had no idea what to do for more than two hours but I stayed calm and ended up being able to call someone eventually. I had to stay very calm in order to think clearly. This was truly a test and now I feel more confident in stressful situations.

How has your international experience improved your communication skills when interacting with people from different backgrounds?
“Oh boy, communication with different people from all over the world is very difficult. Thankfully, almost every international student I came into contact with spoke English at least at a B1/B2 level. Along with the international students, most German students I befriended spoke perfect English as well. However, there was obviously a large communication barrier when I would go shopping or had to get a haircut. The barrier disheartens you some but over time you just make improvements on your speaking abilities and can anticipate the questions they will ask when you go. The ability to speak and communicate through the common language of English was fascinating to me. I witnessed on multiple occasions students from some country speak to another from a different country (for example someone from Finland communicating with someone from China) through English and it really showed me how lucky I am that I am a native English speaker. I had multiple opportunities to speak German with native German speakers so having the confidence and the ability to not care to make mistakes while speaking was something that helped me in improving my German communication skills. Overall, studying abroad will improve your communication skills drastically!”

Submitted by: Kathleen Brucato, director, Office of International Student Programs