Alumni Spotlight: Hansen Karyakose


Hansen is a Senior at Oakland University studying Sociology. Hansen is an avid cook and is excited to continue his education after graduating this April.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I have always had a passion for cooking. The idea of learning and developing my skills in a different country wasn't an opportunity I could pass up. The location of this program was also an awesome plus. Living and studying on an island for 4 weeks seemed like a great experience and was something that drew me in.

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

My university has an International Education office which houses the Study Abroad program advisers. Once I took interest in studying abroad, they paired me up with an adviser who was there for me every step of the way – from picking my program to making sure my flight accommodations were scheduled and underway. I had to initiate my decision to study abroad as well as the paperwork and forms that came with this experience, but I knew they would be there to help me if I had any issues.

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

It is essential to pack lighter than you think you need. I know this is easier said than done, but a smart thing to do would be to bring multiple items that can be mixed and matched with each other. You won't be worried about wearing the same thing throughout the weeks because you'll be too busy with other things you are trying to pack in the weeks you are there. Also, take into account how much you will be buying in the country you are in. It would be a good idea to leave room in your carry-on or leave about 5-10 pounds in your checked bag so you don't have to worry about checking another bag and the fees that would come with that on your trip home.

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

There is always something to look forward to through the weeks of the program. The way my program was set up, they gave us a schedule for the entire four weeks ahead of time. There were excursions weekly and then other events put on with the local university students. These events included shopping, going out for drinks, short bike tours, and local visits to the beaches.

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 initially was transferring from airport to airport and making my connecting flights. This was a very stressful process if the student has not traveled much before. This was my first time overseas, and I was traveling alone. However, after the first few flights, I realized that people at the airport are more than willing to help. Also, the language barrier is something that is easily overcome with workers at tourist information booths who usually speak multiple languages.

How did you overcome the idea of going someplace new alone and not knowing anyone?

The idea of studying abroad was initially on my mind because I wanted to try something outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to expand my horizons and try something new and exciting that would develop me as an individual. I knew that it comes with scary and challenging processes.

I just had to tell myself that everyone was in the same boat as me coming in and that no one knew each other. Thankfully, we all ended up being very good friends. If you just be yourself and put yourself out there, other students will be drawn to the idea that you want to go on the same experience they did. You already have more in common with these people than they think.