OpinionAll the world is your classroom

I am a first-generation college graduate. I grew up in a poor family in Venezuela, and was fortunate enough to have a grandmother who pushed me to continue in school. I went to college, I even went to graduate school, and now I am lucky to work in this wonderful, intellectually vibrant place called Trinity University. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to study abroad when I was a student. This is part...
Bladimir RuizJanuary 28, 2018252 min
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I am a first-generation college graduate. I grew up in a poor family in Venezuela, and was fortunate enough to have a grandmother who pushed me to continue in school. I went to college, I even went to graduate school, and now I am lucky to work in this wonderful, intellectually vibrant place called Trinity University.

My only regret is that I wasn’t able to study abroad when I was a student. This is part of the reason I am so passionate about the programs that I direct here at Trinity: They are exactly the sort of study abroad experiences that I wish I could have afforded so many years ago.

I hope that every Trinity student is able to seriously consider study abroad as part of their Trinity education. Why?

For starters, there will never be a better time to do it: College is about exploring options and experiencing new things, while acquiring knowledge about the world and about yourself. Trinity now offers a wide array of high-quality, faculty-led programs to exciting locations around the globe, such as Japan, China, Germany, Cuba, the Netherlands and Spain.

Furthermore, studying and living in another country and immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture knocks you out of your ‘comfort zone,’ and encourages you to look at cultures — your own and others’ — with heightened understanding. The experience expands not only your knowledge about the world, but also your worldview. And ideally it gives you the opportunity to learn a different language, or to hone your fluency in a language already studied at Trinity or high school.  

For example, the Trinity in Spain program, a full fall semester in Madrid, does this and much more. For 15 weeks, a close-knit group of 10 Trinity students studied in Spain’s capital city, one of the most cosmopolitan and lively in Europe. There, they had an adventure that included classes in many different academic fields; awesome field trips to cultural and historical locations such as Granada, Sevilla, Córdoba, Málaga and Valencia; and they participated in the many exciting activities that only could take place in a country of such cultural complexity.

As a faculty-led program with a cohort of Trinity students, this program maintains its own identity as an integral part of the “Trinity experience.”

More than anything, in Spain we became a Trinity “family” who really enjoyed each other’s company, and at the same time, supported and shared our personal explorations and discoveries. This was, without a doubt, the most extraordinary experience that these ten students and I ever had at Trinity — and this “Trinity” was in Madrid! (How cool is that!?)

I’ve been teaching college students for over 20 years, and now, in a time of intense international engagement, I am even more convinced of the relevance and value of college study abroad. You, as a Trinity student, are fortunate to study at an institution with faculty who are fully committed to this special type of academic experience. I strongly encourage you to visit our study abroad office to learn more about this kind of opportunity.

So, Trinity University gave me the chance to do much later what I wasn’t able to do while in college: to participate, now as a leader, in a study abroad program. I truly love being in a classroom with my Trinity students — but it’s certainly a more challenging and exciting experience when that classroom includes tortilla española!

Bladimir Ruiz

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