Clarisse Peralta graduated from Stanford University with BS in Science, Technology & Society. Read all about what she has to say about the rewards of studying abroad below!
Having now graduated, what do you think is the most important take-away from having attended your school/studying abroad?
For me, the most important take-away is the real value of my education. Not everyone is given the chance to study abroad, let alone at Stanford, and it has been such a privilege to be able to experience the magic of The Farm. Therefore, it is imperative to give back, and constantly find a way to make life better for others-- to use my degree not for personal gain, but to lift up others.
What is your best memory in the time you spent studying abroad? What did you love most?
My best memories of college are comprised of the little things, from staying up late at night with friends to exploring new cities during our junior year abroad. It is impossible to pinpoint just a single memory, because it was the steady accumulation of experiences. It is very meaningful when you are able to embrace college the way that studying abroad allows you to. You literally live and breathe college, and become very immersed in the environment you're in. But I think what I loved the most about was being surrounded by people I could learn and grow from, and who were on the same wavelength as me.
Would you recommend studying abroad? Why or why not?
Yes, definitely! It was an incredible adventure, and I would not have chosen differently. Studying abroad was the best decision I have made, as it really changed the trajectory of my life. By being pushed outside of my comfort zone, I have been challenged in ways unimaginable, grown exponentially, and profoundly transformed as a result.
Is there anything that you wish someone had told you to consider in choosing the right school for you? In other words, was there any defining characteristic of your school that you hadn't known about coming in, but which had a defining impact in your experience there?
When I was applying for colleges abroad, I actually did not know much about Stanford and did it half-heartedly. But as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I immediately felt at home. It's really important to visit schools and talk to students who can give you a more informed perspective. For instance, I did not realize how diverse Stanford is until I visited other universities. And although it is academically rigorous, the environment is very relaxed, and the students are generally as warm as the weather, which impacted my overall experience.
What did you feel you were best prepared for when it came to studying abroad? What did you feel you could've been better prepared for?
I don't really know what I was best prepared for, but it surely helped to be open-minded. You're not only entering another country or discovering a new culture, but you're basically entering a whole new world. Don't liken it to Manila, because it will never compare to home. Don't try to live in two worlds either, because that is exhausting. I was best prepared to leave, and that motivated me to build my second home.
I could've been better prepared to speak up in class! Coming from a local school, we are taught to be "submissive" and only answer when the teacher calls on you, as well as accept what they say as the truth without question. As a freshman, I unknowingly had this mindset and wasn't confident enough to voice my opinions or share my thoughts. Professors like to hear what you think so don't be shy!
Best piece of advice you could give an incoming freshman? Or a student considering college abroad?
Be open and present!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. Whether it is meeting someone who comes from a different background, or taking a class that sounds interesting, say yes to everything. You will only walk this way once, and now is the perfect time to explore. Do things within reason, never lose sight of your goals, and be honest about your limits. Finding the right balance between work and play is the key to enjoying all that college has to offer.
Other pieces of wisdom?
It's okay not to be sure of your major or question your decisions every so often. In freshman year, I was totally convinced that I would major in Economics, and even created a four year plan. But you cannot plan every single detail, and I have since learned to be flexible. Allow life to surprise you!
P.S. Ask for help when you need it, and attend office hours if necessary. Everyone wants to see you succeed, and use the many resources that are available to you. They're there for a reason!