Which cities did choose to visit, why?
I chose London and Paris because I have always wanted to visit the Tower of London and the Louvre.
What were your favorite museums and sites, why?
My favorite sites in Paris were the Sacre-Coeur and the Louvre. Sacre-Coeur is a beautiful Catholic basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Mary. It sits on top of a large hill, and you can see all of Paris from the top. It is truly magical. Seeing the Louvre Museum was also very inspiring to me. Not only was I able to see some of my favorite pieces of art, such as Lady Liberty Leading the People and the Venus of Milo, but I was also able to experience the site of one of Beyonces music videos which created a commentary on race and what is considered "fine art". My favorite site in London was Westminster Abbey because I was able to see the tombs of many different Brits, including Queen Elizabeth I.
What challenges did you encounter during your trip?
In London, my phone didn't work for the first few days so I couldn't use Google Maps. I solved this problem by continually asking people which subway I needed to take and by asking for directions. I encountered several obstacles in Paris. On my first day, I was swindled out of $80. Due to transportation strikes, all of the subways were closed, so I had to travel by Ubers, which was very expensive. Language was also a difficulty. I speak no French, and most people spoke little to no English or Spanish so I struggled to communicate. Mostly I would point to things, use, gestures, or use Google Translate .
How do you see your experience abroad as impacting your studies and career goals?
I intend to be an elementary English as a Second Language teacher. This trip was impactful to me because it is necessary that I exercise my cultural competency and cultural humility in order to relate to the children and help them succeed. This trip allowed me an opportunity to experience different cultures and to put myself in my future students' shoes - to be in a place where everything is different, even the language. I had to figure out how to function in a new society, just like families who are new to the United States must do.
What advice would you give to students who are applying for this grant?
Budget more money than you think you will need, because you will probably end up needing it.
Make sure your phone is "unlocked" before you buy a SIM card.
Realize that in some cultures, it is not the norm to be "friendly" with strangers or customers, so people are not necessarily being rude, it is just not expected to be cheerful or helpful.
Most importantly, pack comfortable shoes. I packed two pairs of shoes, some comfy tennis shoes and some less comfy heeled boots. On the days I wore the heeled boots, my feet would be killing me by the afternoon and I had to walk all the way to my hostel from the subway station. Pack sensible but chic shoes. Your feet will thank you!