When you look at study abroad programs, do you look to stay culturally educated? Do your parents help you to apply and transition, or do you depend on yourself?
My name is Luis Abreu-Socorro, I am a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I am taking part in the Turks and Caicos Summer 2 Marine Megafauna program through the School for Field Studies (SFS). Before embarking on my experience, I had to consider many self-identifying factors that would affect my process in applying and participating in the program. One aspect of my identity that influenced my decision to go abroad is that I am of Latino (Venezuelan) heritage. Growing up bilingual (Spanish-English) and culturally driven was an amazing experience as a child, and I want to continue that by learning about different cultures. One of the main things that I considered when applying to study abroad was whether they offered cultural enrichment opportunities so that I could be more knowledgeable. Luckily, SFS offers experiences where we get to meet and interact with local community children. Through this experience, I have made new friendships and learned about what the South Caicos culture entails.
Another related aspect of my identity that I considered before applying is being a First-Generation College Student. As mentioned before, both of my parents are Venezuelan immigrants. They did not attend college in the U.S., thus making me the first person in my immediate family to attend a 4-year university. Although my parents are very supportive and want me to be successful, it is difficult for them to help since they do not have the same experience that I have. Because of this, I have had to apply to and learn about study abroad programs myself. Not having the same help that other students do has been a challenge; but looking to carry out my dream of studying at a marine science research facility has allowed me to overcome it. There are many people who have similar situations in which their families have little to no experience with college/study abroad, and I want to be one of the people to overcome this and show others that they can do it, while becoming more culturally educated at the same time.