Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Braithwaite

Sarah is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is studying international affairs at The George Washington University in Washington DC. Her future plans include law school in hopes to become an immigration lawyer one day.

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How has this experience impacted your future?

Sarah: Studying abroad, although so much fun, is a challenging experience. The person that I am was challenged. I was in a foreign place with a new set of problems, and I felt that my true personality came to light. I became more of myself and got to know myself a lot better through this experience.

Studying abroad impacted my entire life in that now I feel I have a better perspective of the world I live in. I know that at the end of the day, my future is in my own hands. I think I learned this through studying abroad because, although the program was a huge tool and aid to me, I had to find my own way in a new place.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future IES students?

Sarah: My advice would be to say yes to every new experience. Do things you wouldn’t normally do, and do it with an open mind, reminding yourself every day that your time in your country is short. Talk to locals even if you feel shy, eat that food you think looks gross, and explore new places. Your experience is what you make it. At the same time, don’t stress yourself out too much trying to experience every little thing. If there’s a night you feel like you can’t go out, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Sarah: My favorite food from Argentina is the asado in general, which is like an American barbeque except better. Specifically, my favorites chorizo, which is like a sausage. You can find choripan (chorizo on bread) basically on any street in Buenos Aires, and it’s always amazing.

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

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Sarah: I bought a post card in every new place that I traveled to. I made a collage that I framed and now have on my wall. I look at it every day and remember all the amazing adventures I had.

Recall a time when your education and experience didn't prepare you for a situation abroad.

Sarah: Nothing can prepare you for culture shock. No matter how much you travel, in my opinion, you will experience at least a little bit of culture shock. You’ll get frustrated with the differences between your home country and your host country, your inability to perfectly communicate, and sometimes you’ll just miss home.

Nothing prepared me for this. I felt uncomfortable almost every day, whether it be taking the wrong bus or having to talk to someone in imperfect Spanish and not getting my point across. But I loved it because I knew that being uncomfortable meant I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone thus helping me to grow as a person.