Thursday, 29 October 2015

5 Things That Happen When You Study Abroad in Belize

Belize is a Central American country and a Caribbean nation, too.  Students studying abroad are exposed to a variety of cultures including Maya, Garifuna, Creole, East Indian, Mennonite and Chinese.   The biodiversity is astounding and as enriched as the cultural exposure. 

Many first time study abroad students have perhaps traveled to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean with their families or churches.  A few have been on other study abroad trips.  Some, however, have never been out of the US or Canada and one or two have never flown before.  

Our students complete a review about the program when their course work is over.  We regularly get feedback like “awesome”, “amazing,” or “an experience of a lifetime.”  What the students say when they reflect more deeply about their time studying abroad makes the efforts to get them here, keep them safe and healthy, and send them back to their lives in North America all worthwhile.
Here‘s what you'll experience when you study abroad in Belize:

1.    You will grow in confidence

Let's face it, it is scary to leave your home comforts and head out into the world on your own but taking that leap of faith and overcoming your fears is a massive confidence booster.

“My time is Belize gave me the confidence that I can travel to new countries by myself and more confidence in my social abilities.”

“I feel as though I have become more confident in my abilities in vet medicine and in life overall.”
“It's given me, not only knowledge, but confidence in the way I carry myself and my work ethics.”

“… psychologically I am in a better state.  Before coming to Belize, I was scared to travel by myself specially since I was emotionally unstable, but now that I am heading back home, I feel more confident and affirmative than ever.”

2.   Your world view and appreciation for other cultures has expanded

If you want to experience different ways of life Belize is the perfect place to study abroad from the impressive historical Maya sites to drumming classes with the Garifuna. With easy smiles and a warm welcome you are sure to take home some lasting memories.

“I think I have come back a different person to some extent.  I have a different outlook in life and what I want from it.”

“… many people don't realize that we don't need much in life to be content.  All these ethnic groups that I was able to interact with have the most satisfying expressions even if Western civilization consider them as poor people.  In my eyes, they are rich with tradition, knowledge, spirituality and love.  Next, spiritually I felt at peace with myself and others through the encounters with spiritual healers.”

“It opened me up to so many different views, taught me how to handle different situations in either stressful or diverse environments, and let me apply the knowledge that I've been learning for so long in classrooms.   This experience taught me so much about how I want to live and let me see different priorities and policies from those in America.”

“I am forever changed by my time here. I love the love here, love of family, love of friends, love of life.  The course was amazing, but the culture and beauty is something I will share with everyone.  This has changed my life.”

3.  You'll make new, lifelong friends from all over North America

If you take our 2 week or 4 week programs you'll be surrounded by other like-minded (and nervous) students from Universities across North America. Being immersed in the program as a team brings people together in a way like no other.

“I met some incredible people and I know that we will be lifelong friends.”

“I would consider my fellow classmates to be friends that I will stay in touch with for a very long time. All in all, I'm not sure I could ever ask for a better experience.”

“I think it developed my skills under pressure, opened my eyes to a world of opportunities, and gave me lifelong friends. I will use what I learned here in every aspect of my future vet work and life overall.”

4.   You'll experience new “ways of being”

“I felt that this allowed us to get an idea of the way of life and culture here in Belize.”

“I really learned to appreciate the difference in culture here in Belize. Even though the people have a different way of life, they are in many ways similar.”

“It was really neat to see the difference in lifestyles and culture. I think my time in Belize will prove to be rewarding and make me fall in love with my potential future more.”

“We had a great amount of immersion in the culture and environment of Belize by staying in multiple places. We stayed in the jungle, on the Cayes, and in San Ignacio, all of which gave us the opportunity to meet the local people and experience their way of living.”

“It changed my view of Central America and the places that I want to travel to in the future. I had time to talk to people and see their country and mine from a different perspective.”

“I think it just helped me gain a more global perspective on life.  A necessary component to any student’s life.”

5.   You'll become profoundly aware of your life in North America

Of course at some point you have to go home, your experience here will give you a new perspective and you'll never look at things in quite the same way again.

“It is really a privilege to see how things are done differently in a developing country and it really gives you a new perspective on not only veterinary medicine, but life in general.”

“I came back from Belize with a broader view on how people from third-world countries live and I can say I am humbled from seeing Belize.”

“Allowed me to appreciate what I have back home.”

“It really made me realize the conditions in countries other than the U.S. and how things aren't always as readily available.  It taught me to be flexible and to always have a good outlook on life because some people and animals have it much worse off. “

“My time Belize really made me appreciate the little things in life. It was great to see how the culture is different in Belize from The US.”

“It also reinforced to me how privileged a life I lead at home and what luxury my family and my animals and I have.”

“It really made me realize how over the top veterinary medicine is in the United States and just everyday life in general.”

Written by Program Director Cynthia Reece

As a Program Director for our field courses in Belize, I work with North American students who are interested in studying abroad with the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad.    One of the big draws for our courses, other than the field work, is Belize is an English speaking nation.  Our courses are intensive and are delivered over a two week period using Belize as the classroom.  Students can take two classes and stay for a full four weeks.   Both features give students an opportunity to try studying abroad for the first time.
As a mom myself, this is the kind of growing I would want my college aged child to experience.  I feel responsible to all the moms and dads out there when they allow their kids to study with us.  I’ll leave you with my favorite response and why I live in Belize:

“This has been the most amazing experience of my life. Every day I thought "Today is the best day of my life." and every day Belize would prove me wrong. The sheer biodiversity and beauty of this country is something that is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

1 comment:

  1. In addition to meeting wonderful people who participate in the CELA programs, I am confident that meeting the people of Belize will leave an indelible mark of the minds and hearts of the participants.