Arleni Huerta ’25 and Miriam Alrubaii ’25 have been awarded the selective Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to study abroad this year.
Huerta recently returned from her four-week study abroad experience in Costa Rica, and Alrubaii is preparing to leave for her spring study abroad at J.F. Oberlin University, located outside Tokyo, Japan.
“Studying abroad was a life-changing experience as I was put far outside my comfort zone, but it was also the only way I could have discovered a new aspect of myself,” says Huerta.
“Traveling alone to a new country was indeed frightening yet exciting. When I arrived, I had no idea about the customs and culture, but my host family welcomed me with open arms to their home to get the full Costa Rica lifestyle. Of course, I did have morning classes, yet I managed to explore the city during the afternoon with friends and classmates. Studying abroad opened up a fresh perspective in my life; it made me more independent.”
Most study away programs are coordinated through Oglethorpe’s Global Education office, where students meet with Dr. Marisa Atencio, assistant dean and director of Global Education.
“As a first-generation college student, I had no idea about studying abroad not until I attended a study abroad interest meeting that Global Education hosted,” said Huerta.
“Dr. Atencio assisted me in choosing a suitable program that fulfilled my requirements. Global Education staff assisted me in completing all the necessary paperwork for studying abroad, including housing, insurance, and course approval. The Global Education team immensely helped me prepare to study abroad.”
Although she hasn’t left for Tokyo yet, Alrubaii is looking forward to engaging in Japanese culture and learning more about the traditional and modern aspects of Japanese society. Alrubaii echoed the same sentiments as Huerta on how much Global Education helped her to prepare for this experience.
“I’d advise Oglethorpe students who are interested to start looking into studying abroad and the locations/programs as early as possible,” said Alrubaii.
“You might think it’s too early, but the earlier, the better because most scholarships open up early, and knowing what/where you want to go is a big help.”