Alumnus, Study Abroad Profile: Nicholas Koch
Nicholas graduated in 2011 with a major in communication and a minor in Spanish. He studied in San José, Costa Rica, at Universidad Veritas for three months. After that, he studied at La Academia de Español in Quito, Ecuador, for three weeks before traveling to the Galapagos Islands.
I lived with host families and a roommate. It was a nice set-up because you get a good cultural experience and you bond with people who you don't really understand well at the beginning.
What effect did studying abroad have on your life?
Studying abroad has made me a lot more content with what I have been given and helped me to not sweat the small stuff that used to bug me. I've grown to appreciate the little things in life that I used to take for granted like clean, warm water, well-paved roads, family time, carpet, or even being able to communicate with other people (in English) so effortlessly.
In what ways did studying abroad allow you to learn and grow?
It helped me to learn how much I don't know yet and how much more there is out there that I haven't experienced yet. It has driven me to want to learn more. I feel that while abroad I learned more about life than I could ever in school. When you're abroad and doing things independently, you are forced to learn the ways of a different culture and realize that maybe yours isn't the only way that it's done. On a personal level, it's a great benefit to have seen things from multiple cultural perspectives and then be able to take that into your own daily life as you grow.
In what ways did you connect with a new culture?
In the Latin American culture, being tightly-knit as a family is extremely important. Living with a host family reminded me about what was important to me. It's easy to get lazy with family communication when you have a busy schedule, and I think the experience helped me to appreciate that more and today and keep my priorities straight.
Describe your best memory from this experience.
The weekends in general were just fun. It always seemed to end late at night sitting on a hammock. Ziplining, bungee jumping, free jumping off of waterfalls, surfing, climbing volcanoes — there was just so much great stuff to do. I have to say the memories I appreciate the most are simple — making new friends and spending time with them and being able to keep in touch with them today as well.