Community Leader Kadija Howes, also known as “Dij,” embraces study abroad opportunities more than most. Read here to find out why Dij wholeheartedly loves the Go Global program in comparison to her many other study abroad experiences:
Guest Post by: Kadija Howes
“Joseph Campbell once said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes’ to your adventure.” Go Global not only encourages students to embrace all of their adventures, but presents them with endless opportunities to do so.
I like to call myself a study abroad expert; I have studied abroad a total of FIVE times, and I am not even close to being done. In my search for the perfect program, I applied to and researched a bunch of different ones. Some programs are really strict and give you very little free time to explore the city, and some programs are very structured and have you on a tight schedule. Go Global does a great job achieving the balance between planned activities and free time, and this is one of the many reasons that the program appealed to me. Students can go on adventures that are part of the schedule, and they can also go on their own adventures.
Even the general concept of “study abroad” to Go Global is so much different than how other study abroad programs perceive the experience. They make sure that while students learn about their home country and different forms of leadership, they are also learning about their peers and themselves. The experience of studying abroad with Go Global is, in one word, holistic. Let’s take it piece by piece… and you’ll see why studying abroad with Go Global is the best choice!
Whenever I hear the word “application” I immediately start to sweat and think of the Common App for college. All of those questions and essays…all of those empty boxes…I’m getting stressed just picturing it! Most study abroad programs will have a very formal application process where students will need to complete different essay questions and then have an interview. Go Global is completely different. It’s more like one of those Buzzfeed quizzes that we all do to procrastinate when “doing our homework.” They ask ” what’s your favorite candy?” and “how do you enjoy spending your free time?” … easy to answer questions, because the answer is, duh, “any form of chocolate” and “with friends and a glass of wine!” There are some essay questions, but they are so short and really easy. Go Global wants to get to know the students during the application process; they want to know who their students are as people, what they enjoy, and what they value. Also, the whole team, including the campus representatives, are always totally willing to answer any questions about the application. Truly, it took me 45 minutes tops. I did it while waiting in between my classes.
The other thing that totally BLEW MY MIND about Global LEAD, the Go Global program that I chose, was the way the classes were structured. Often, programs will make the claim, “we believe in learning outside of a classroom,” but then they just end up giving a lecture in a place that is not a traditional classroom. For example, when I was on a study abroad program in London, we ended up having a lecture in the quad on a patch of grass. It was lovely… but it was still a lecture. During my Go Global experience, we did have some lectures, but oftentimes, we watched movie clips, or we would get up and move around for an activity. The learning experience was incredibly interactive and unique, different from a traditional classroom setting. Go Global also places a huge emphasis on the students getting to know themselves and their peers. There is a lot of self-reflection involved in the curriculum. I’m not going to lie, after re-reading this…it sounds really cheesy, but I go to school in Wisconsin—cheese is good thing! Honestly, I learned more about myself and the people I was with than I did about the history of South Africa…and that says a lot, because I learned so much about their incredible culture.
This brings me to the last, most important, piece of the Go Global puzzle—peers. The students on the trips have the same goals in mind; they, too, want to get out of their comfort zone, go on adventures, and meet new people. This is true of all study abroad programs, but Go Global forces students to become close with each other because of the structure of the program. For example, by splitting up the people on the trip who seem to be best friends during “Adventure Week,” students are forced to branch out and get to know other students that they may have never spoken to if they stuck to their usual group of friends. At first, it may seem awkward because there are people from all different schools, but that is why students grow so close to one another. Everyone is reflecting on themselves, and as they learn about themselves, they want to learn about you, too. I shared more about myself on this trip than I think that I have ever shared with anyone. I made FAST friends; I am closer with some of the people I went on the trip with than with people I have known since childhood. It’s funny, because while the goal of Go Global is to get students out of their comfort zones, the environment between peers became so comfortable, that I felt that I was able to open up to these people as if I’d known them forever.
On most other programs, the new friendships that were formed abroad begin to fade over time. Go Global is completely different. The staff always refers to the program as a family, and it’s because they know by the end of the trip, students will have 108 more members of their families! This idea is even instilled in the interns. Chris was the intern for my group in Cape Town, and he knew I didn’t like hugs. It seemed like throughout the trip it was his unspoken goal to make me like hugs, because EVERY time I saw him he had to hug me! One of the teaching assistants, Devan, or “Dev-squad” as I called her, and I became super close because she was simply awesome. I ended up sharing stories with her that I didn’t think I would ever say aloud to anyone. It is weird how the people on this trip, staff, interns, and students alike just had a knack for getting me to open up in so many ways. I can honestly say that Go Global changed the way I see myself and all of the people around me. Because of this trip, I am a better friend, sister, daughter, and all-around human being. I can honestly say that going to South Africa with Go Global is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
So now, readers, I am asking you: Will you embrace the adventure waiting for you?”
Dij is a Sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is double majoring in International Studies and Chinese. While she is still unsure of which career she will pursue, Dij feels confident that both the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that she acquired on her Go Global trip will serve as an asset to helping her become an incredibly successful woman.
Dij, with her unfailing humor, brought a smile to everyone’s face on the trip. I am so glad that Go Global introduced me to her! She, like all of the other students on my trip, holds a special place in my heart. I am so happy that Go Global gave her the opportunities and the confidence that she needed to really be herself. As she said…it’s all about embracing the adventure for what it’s worth, and making the most of the experience!
As study abroad becomes increasingly popular among college students, the number of programs to choose from can surely be overwhelming. Take it from Dij — Go Global really is the best one out there. Don’t just go…LEAD!
-Anna and the Go Global team