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Koret Fellowship Program

Michelle Wu

Accounting Information Systems major, class of 2018

Through LEAD and its fellowship program, I was able to study abroad in London for a semester. If it was not for the funds I received, I would not have been able to travel abroad as much as I did and would have been stressed financially. But thankfully, the fellowship allowed me to visit 12 countries and 17 cities in a four-month period. I am so thankful that I got to experience so many different cultures, cuisines, and languages, and learned about a variety of histories and cultures through museums, historical landmark, and tours. I visited countries across Europe including: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden. I feel that visiting all of these countries has helped me grow as a person by giving me a different perspective on societies based on the values of another culture. I feel that I learned more about myself though traveling, such as my inclination towards adventures and desire to immerse myself in new environments. It also allowed me the opportunity to be more open to foreign things, such as trying haggis balls in Scotland and raw herring in Amsterdam. I feel very blessed for the opportunity to study abroad and for the LEAD fellowship that ensured the success of my trip.

There were some minor challenges I faced abroad, which facilitated my growth as a person. My hardest challenge was balancing my time efficiently between studying, classes, homework, and traveling to foreign countries almost every weekend, while taking care of myself. While I found the right balance between school and travel, I was not getting enough rest to stay healthy and ended up being sick for more than a month. This experience made me realize that my health is very important, and that I need to better manage my time rather than sacrificing one thing for another. It was a good learning experience since being across the planet from my parents forced me to be fully independent for the first time. I believe that being abroad taught me how to balance a full plate and reassured me that I would be okay anywhere in the world.

There were also great successes I accomplished abroad, which were accomplished through traveling. I managed to understand the airports, public transportations, and order myself food in countries in which I do not know the language. While I did have friends with me most of the times, I traveled alone twice and was able to figure it out on my own. I also became more spontaneous, planning trips a week in advance without a second thought. Being spontaneous encouraged me to be more open to try things, such as weird foods, a 10-hour bus tour in the mountain side of Edinburgh, and jumping off a boat in Santorini. The best thing I have done was experience new cultures, as I have mentioned earlier. I visited the Anne Frank House and Van Gough Museum in Amsterdam, went to an open air museum in Stockholm, wore a traditional dirndl in Munich, visited the massive La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, and much more. In London, I signed up to do a homestay with a lovely retired couple in Kent, a city an hour out of London, and got to celebrate the British holiday, Remember the 5th, with hundreds of other English people at a local festival. While I could have become more spontaneous, open, and aware of other cultures at home, being in the UK pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone and take advantage of my once in a lifetime opportunity.

Michelle studying abroad