Post-College

Michi's Years Overseas

Michi Ferreol graduated from Harvard College with BA in Sociology. As one of CAMP's Co-Founders, she continues to be an amazing mentor for the organization and its members.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?

Experience really is the best teacher. Harvard has over 30,000 course offerings and I was only able to take ~40 of them, but I've never felt like lacking in the lessons and skills that I took away. I owe that feeling largely to the fact that every minute I spent outside the classroom was as much of a learning opportunity as the time spent inside it. I made my decision to switch from a pre-med track to an education track halfway through my summer in Tanzania, when a visit to a local hospital made clear to me the dearth of health resources in developing countries. I realized the difficulty of committing one's life to public service during my summer in London working for the Special Olympics, when countless fundraising campaigns still left us grasping for sufficient funds. I even wrestled with aligning myself with a political belief system over dinner with friends from the Institute of Politics. These experiences taught me so much more than I could have ever learned from even the most distinguished university professors.

What is your best memory in the time you spent studying abroad? What did you love most?

I have way too many incredible memories (see here and here), so it's really tough to choose ones that stand out. In general, though, what I loved the most about college was getting to know people deeply and wholly. While big things like the yearly Harvard-Yale football game (which we won every year that I was an undergrad, by the way, hehe) or Harvard's large 375th anniversary dance party will always stick in my mind, the moments I will really cherish are the simplest ones. I loved going on midnight walks by the Charles River with my best friends, talking about anything and everything. I loved getting up at 4am to watch the sunrise from the top of the Science Center observatory. I loved weekly late-night runs to Felipe's to get burritos, sledding down Widener Library steps on dining hall trays, and dancing in foam at my dorm's biggest party of the year. And while I know that the individual events themselves will eventually fade and meld into one another, I will never forget the people I did them with! 

Would you recommend studying abroad? Why or why not?

150% yes. You grow in unprecedented ways when you're made to leave home and live by yourself in an unfamiliar environment. The experience teaches you not only to be a more conscientious person, but to also acknowledge your limitations and weaknesses in more than just an academic context. I also became a more loyal and nationalistic Filipino when I left the country. There are so few Filipinos who study abroad, so the responsibility of representing the nation well and bringing it pride is thrust upon us--a role that requires maturity, strength of character, and fierce dedication. The opportunities to learn and grow are absolutely endless overseas.

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?

The name or brand recognition of a school should not be the prime reason you choose to go there. It shouldn't even be one of your top five reasons. It's really tempting to play the name game when you're coming out of high school, but always remember that fit is key. This is the cheesiest statement anyone can make, but the people around you make the largest impact on your time at any university. Pay attention to whether the people and the culture jive with who you are as a person. You end up falling in love with a place not because of its prestige but because of its significance to you, and that meaning is derived from those around you. Ultimately, I still believe that it's the person, not the school that makes the experience, so think about where YOU would thrive best and be the happiest!

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?

At ISM, I took the International Baccalaureate program, which helped me prepare very well for college-level coursework. Beyond academics, though, speaking to upperclassmen friends and hearing about their first years at their respective colleges gave me insights into what to expect in terms of lifestyle and campus culture (e.g. emails become your life, you easily burn out from signing up for too many activities, freshman weight gain is real). 

I didn't feel as prepared, though, for the process of weeding out which organizations and clubs to stick with. I wish someone had told me earlier how to spot an activity that was worth doing. I realized sooner or later that an organization had to fulfill one or both of the following two things to be worthwhile: (1) you should be able to build professional skills through your work with the club and/or develop a better understanding of yourself, and (2) the organization should have a very good, tight-knit community that can be your pseudo-family at college.

Best piece of advice you could give an incoming freshman? Or a student considering college abroad?

Dare to be vulnerable. Whether that's raising your hand in a 100-person lecture to ask a question, inviting a professor out to dinner, or telling a friend that you've been missing home--be honest and open. Don't ever feel like you have to pretend that things are alright. Coming to terms with your vulnerability will allow you to fully experience moments more deeply and fully, as well as get to know people more meaningfully. You're not a superhero and no one expects you to be. Never forget that everyone had to once start were you are at now, and no one did it alone.

Other pieces of wisdom?

When choosing between spending time with a friend or meeting new people and doing a pset or writing an essay, always go with the former. You won't regret it. 

Clarisse's Years Overseas

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! 

Chris's Years Overseas

Chris Dee graduated from Yale University with BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Involved in CAMP since its inception, Chris headed CAMP's Business Development and Marketing divisions during the early days. He laid much of groundwork for CAMP's reach today and is a all-around, genuine boss! Read all about what he 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?

A deeper understand of what it means to be a good and smart person -- From such diverse people I've met at Yale, I learned that "goodness" and "smartness" are not confined to a single set of rules stipulated by culture or social norms. I've also learned that there is much growing to do by ways of thinking well, of thinking with more humility and critical consideration, and of submitting my own assumptions to questioning.

What is your best memory in the time you spent studying abroad? What did you love most?

Two things:

  1. We did a giant fundraiser for Haiyan victims, and the Filipino club (KASAMA) came together in such a profound and moving way. Each member carried their own weight and more, and the 4am emails would be answered at 4:05am. Moreover, the whole Yale community supported our country. The first thing that popped up on yale.edu was the Philippine flag (I have a screenshot somewhere). In ten days we raised about a million pesos.
  2. The day before the final day of Commencement (three days of graduation festivities), my barkada sat around in a circle in open air at midnight with beers and blankets. We toasted to each other, shared memories of first meeting each other, and reflected on friendship, nostalgia, the future, and love. Lots of tears. We ended at like 6am and baaaarely made it to graduation.

Would you recommend studying abroad? Why or why not?

Yes because it expands your mind. You learn that there is still so much to know, that there are so many ways to be a person, that ideas are worth sharing. You learn many languages (I use "languages" metaphorically)-- different ways to communicate with people, through words, arts, and shared experiences.

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?

This I sort of knew but I'd like the kids to know: choose a school because of the people, not the name. The people make the experiences. Most of the academics will be the same wherever you go. But the peers and friends you find, the professors whose wisdom you try to diffuse, and those late night conversations, really make your college experience. (Yale specific)

That and research as much as you can before you decide which clubs to do, which labs to work in, which classes to take. Make friends with upperclasspeople! They will show you the ropes, so you can take their advice and avoid their mistakes. Gather as much data as you can before you decide!! (Any school, really)

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?

Best prepared for: study habits.
Least prepared for: openness. And winter.

Best piece of advice you could give an incoming freshman? Or a student considering college abroad?

Work your butt off, it's worth it. Once you're there, be open to the experiences that life throws at you. And not all learning happens in the classroom.

Other pieces of wisdom?

In relation to the previous question, here's a poem I love by Mihai Eminescu:

Vainly In Those Dusty Classrooms... (Mihai Eminescu)
Vainly in those dusty classrooms
And throughout moth-eaten volumes
Do you strive to find life's beauty
And fulfill its inmost duty, 
And in vain on greasy pages
Do you seek the gist of sages, 
Nor with their contorted wording
Can you change the world's unfolding. 
No amount of bookish learning
Has the answers to your yearning, 
So live life until you pass, 
All that suffering amass, 
And you'll hear the growing grass. 

(1879) 

(Translated by Paul Abucean)

Kimi’s Years Overseas

Kimi Rodriguez graduated from New York University Abu Dhabi with a BA in Political Science with concentrations in Economics and Mediterranean History. She’s played an integral part in CAMP’s founding and continues to be an amazing mentor for the organization and its members. Being the incredible human being that she is, we asked her what studying abroad has done for her!

Having now graduated, what do you think is the most important take-away from having attended your school/studying abroad?

My most important take away from having attended NYU Abu Dhabi is that when it comes down to the core of it, people from all over the world are more similar than they are different. NYU Abu Dhabi is a very diverse university; in each class of roughly 150 people (at least for the first four classes), there are over 60 countries represented. Coming from a comparably homogenous environment, the sudden exposure to so many cultures and ways of thinking was at first shocking, then life changing. My experience at NYUAD not only made me more aware and open-minded, but also more empathetic and willing to challenge my own convictions.

What is your best memory in the time you spent studying abroad? What did you love most?

Travel is a core component of the NYUAD experience. In my four years, I was able to visit, live and study in 16 different countries – many of those as part of my academic program. Prior to university, I never saw myself as a traveler, and even now I wouldn’t say that traveling is something I’m passionate about. However, being in such a geographically strategic location gave me ample opportunity me to visit countries I never even thought I wanted to see. Traveling was such an unexpected surprise for me, and I loved every minute of it.

Would you recommend studying abroad? Why or why not?

Yes, I would. Leaving home is mentally and emotionally challenging, but it is an experience that will change how you see the world and how you see yourself. I grew up in college, and I can’t imagine myself today without the experiences (both positive and negative) I’ve had. However, I also know that studying abroad isn’t for everyone. It is a choice that everyone must consider very carefully.

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?

Although I knew that I would be entering a very small community, I didn’t know beforehand how defining this would be. During my first year, there were only 300 students in the school – this made my college experience differ very greatly from those of my peers’ who were studying in schools with as many as 10,000 people. It worked well for me, but it didn’t work well for everyone. It’s important to consider the kind of environment you’re entering: don’t just think about the academics and the extra curricular opportunities, but also think about the size and demographic of the university community.

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?

The International Baccalaureate really prepared me for my freshman year academics. The rigor of the IB program helped me breeze through long writing assignments and a demanding schedule. I would say I could’ve been better prepared for homesickness, but I don’t think anything can really prepare you for that!

Best piece of advice you could give an incoming freshman? Or a student considering college abroad?

Research the universities you’re applying to well, and have fun! Balance your time with academics, activities, and friends, and make the most of every year. It’s a roller coaster of a ride that will go by faster than you think :)

If this interview wasn’t enough to show you how awesome Kimi is, just let her graduating speech blow you away.