How I Studied Abroad as an Engineer
My name is Kate and I am in my third year studying Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University. Last Spring (2020), I had the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in Valencia, Spain! I am here to tell you that studying abroad as an engineer can be done. Read on to find out how! In this blog I hope to share with you how I planned a semester abroad as an engineer as well as a bit of my experience abroad.
Start planning early! I knew I wanted to study abroad since high school, so my first semester at CSU I scheduled meetings with a study abroad advisor, my major advisor, and my minor advisor, all to plan my semester abroad. I quickly learned that every engineering major has their own ‘ideal’ semester to go abroad. For me as a Chemical and Biological Engineer, it was the second semester of my second year. In addition, I learned that the abroad programs engineers can choose are decided largely by the number of STEM classes offered and credits that can transfer. I knew I wanted to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, as I have a minor in Spanish and hoped to improve with immersion.
From these requirements, my study abroad program emerged: the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain offered all the STEM and Spanish classes that I would need to return to CSU on track to graduate on time and with my Spanish minor completed.
Planning to go abroad
In general, semesters abroad are a great time to focus on AUCC (All University Core Curriculum) classes rather than your core engineering classes, as AUCC’s are both easier than engineering courses, more commonly offered abroad, and offer you more time to explore your new country of residence!
With my location and semester of travel decided, I needed to shuffle my schedule. My goal was to shift my engineering core classes up by a semester so I could fit more Spanish classes into my semester abroad. (After all, what better time to dive into Spanish than while in Spain?!) To do this, I took summer classes between my first and second years and carefully constructed my fall schedule to leave more time for non-STEM classes in the spring.
I will admit that it took a lot of planning and hard work, but it all paid off when I was able to take three Spanish classes in Spain (I also took thermodynamics and differential equations). I came home with my Spanish minor complete and still on track to continue with engineering courses in the following fall.
The abroad experience
After all the pre-planning is done, the hardest part is over! As soon as you take a step in your new country, all the hard work is a backdrop to the excitement of studying abroad. My time abroad was amazing. I stayed with a host family, made some great friends, improved my Spanish, and traveled to some awesome places. Studying abroad is a bit like starting at a new college: there’s so much to take in and get used to – from language to culture to new classes and campus – but also so many opportunities to make new friends and create memories. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from studying abroad! Keep an open mind, take opportunities to try new things and to travel, and immerse yourself in the experience of being far from home! You will learn so much about yourself along the way.
In the end, just have fun. Studying abroad is an outstanding opportunity that I encourage engineers to take advantage of. Though my time in Spain was sadly cut short due to COVID-19, the time I did get to spend there is close to my heart and I wouldn’t change it for the world. If you have any other questions about my experience or about studying abroad, please let me know. You can reach me at the engineering student ambassador email, email@example.com. I love sharing about my time as a CSU engineer abroad!
Author: Kate Boyd
Kate is a third-year student studying Chemical and Biological Engineering with a minor in Spanish. She is a committed Engineering Student Ambassador and member of the Honors program, and hails from Boulder, Colorado.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the engineering ambassador team at firstname.lastname@example.org!