Alumni Spotlight: Efren Enrique Benitez


Why did you choose this program?

It was a surprise. I have always had an interest in Japan, and my mother told me that I would be going to Japan for my birthday.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

We did all of it on our own. My school does not do exchange programs such as this, so I had to want this individually, and my mother was there to help.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Go with an open mind and be sure to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. Try and make Japan an unforgettable experience that you will continue to look back at as you grow.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Each and every day is a completely new experience which brings a lot of unique and amazing things. You are living life to the fullest and there is no telling what may come, or who you might meet the next day.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear that I overcame was fitting in. I saw myself as inferior to the other travelers since I come from a smaller city. I felt that I wouldn't fit in but after spending weeks with each other, I grew very close to the others. Some I still talk to even today.

How does the trip impact you today?

It helps realize how much I have grown -- the change from before I left to coming back home has been massive.