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In honor of International Education Week (IEW), the Office of International Student Programs (ISP) 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 next student spotlight is Jessica Kobis ’17, a communication studies major and French minor, who studied abroad in both Seoul, South Korea and Lille, France.

How and why did you choose the particular location for your semester abroad? Who/what had influenced your choice?
I went to Lille, France for my first study abroad experience to travel and challenge myself. I never had the opportunity to travel with my family, so I saw studying abroad as a great opportunity to see as many places as I could. And I did that! In five months I was able to visit nine different European countries, something I only dreamed of before! Also, the thought of living in a foreign country where they spoke a different language terrified me. I decided that was even more of a reason that I had to do it. I’m so glad I did!

Because I had such a great time during my time in France, I knew I would regret not taking advantage of Canisius’ programs to explore more of the world. This time I had my sights set for Asia. As a huge fan of South Korean pop culture, Seoul was paradise for my fangirl heart. The music of my favorite K-Pop idols filled the streets, endorsements from my favorite K-dramas lined shop windows, and I got to visit Madame Tussaud’s Seoul to meet one of my favorite actors, Kim Soo Hyun. This is not something you find in the U.S.! So I would say instead of coming to Korea to challenge myself, I saw this time abroad as a way to seek out my interests and experience Korean culture, such as the food and everyday streets, that I watched so many times on my computer screen.

Explain a moment abroad when you faced adversity and what you did to overcome this obstacle?

One of the most difficult moments I had when abroad was when I was in Seoul, South Korea and decided to go on a solo hike in Bukhansan National Park.  I was determined to make it to the top. After four and a half hours of hiking the trails, I finally made it to Baegundae, the highest peak in Seoul. The only problem was I had just completed the most difficult hike in my life. In 90°F weather with very high humidity, I thought that I would never make it back the same way I came. I immediately knew that the trail marked “descent” would be the smartest choice. However, with a cell phone only useful as a watch/camera in South Korea and no Wi-Fi in the middle of a park, I had to find an entirely different route back to the university. Using the little Korean I knew from two weeks of class, I was able to ask around and find a shuttle to the closest bus station. It felt as if there was no way I would ever make it back to my dorm room. When it was all over, I was proud to think that I was able to stay calm and figure out how to make my return when I was so exhausted and stressed from a demanding day. This experience only made the rest of my trip seem that much easier!

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