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Study Abroad - Saffie & Ramota

Studying abroad can be a huge decision. Some transitions may be smoother than others, With the help of some amazing people, “ #TCIMStudyAbroad series” was created and people of different backgrounds share their experiences by answering 7 quick questions on their experiences. If you’re considering studying abroad these posts will most definitely be useful.

Enjoy x


Name: Saffie Kaiwa

Degree Title: International Relations & Brain and Cognitive Science

What influenced your decision to study abroad?

I have a number of factors that influenced my decision to study abroad. Firstly, it is a requirement that students studying International Relations study abroad for at least a semester. Secondly, my university’s study abroad program gives the opportunity to also intern at influential offices pertinent to your major. This creates a platform for networking and possible job opportunities after graduation.

What were the main things that affected your final decision?

Honestly, I just wanted to get away from the hassle of the USA and experience something different from what I was used to. Moreover, Brussels is basically the hub of international relations so that directed my decision.

What did you value the most about your experience?

The weather. New York is frigid and snows heavily for days. There are days when I actually dread going outside because of how cold it can get and this lowers my motivation to do anything. Having mild and conducive weather all through my stay in Brussels, forced me to do everything that there was to do. The weather was definitely a highlight of my stay there.

What was the hardest thing about your experience?

The hardest thing about my experience was the inconvenience when it came to certain things. Everything in the US is so easy to get and find but that was not the case in Belgium. It was a feat getting something as common as business checks which can be found in any Office Depot in the US. Other than that, living in Belgium was honestly the highlight of 2019.

How has your study abroad shaped the way you think now?

I have come to realize that stress does not equate productivity and effectiveness. Brussels made me realize that I do not have to be busy or stressed out to feel like I am accomplishing my goals. Since my study abroad experience, I have realized that having actual leisure time does not mean I am resting on my laurels or being complacent.

Do you believe your experience has given you a competitive edge when it comes to finding a job and why?

It definitely has because doing my short time in Brussels, I got to sit in on meetings at the European Parliament, Foreign Affairs Ministry, UN Human Rights Office and other important institutions. I got to understand the roles of these offices, their goals and challenges, what is practical and what isn’t. Given the knowledge I have gained, it is given that these experiences have given me an edge. I can at least say I know what some of these offices look at/for, what they gravitate toward and what inclusion they want, therefore, I can adequately prepare to cater to those needs.


Name: Ramota (she/her) @TheRamota

Degree title: Biological Sciences

What influenced your decision to study abroad 

I wanted the opportunity to explore a world different to my own, study abroad gave me the opportunity to take courses I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise. This is because the American education system allows for a bit more freedom.

What were the main things that affected your final decision 

I did a full year abroad, as an add on to my 3 year degree. I decided that an extra year would be a great addition to my CV. It would make me stand out, and it wouldn’t make a difference in the long term.

What did you value the most about your experience 

The opportunity to explore a new city/country. Try out new courses like public health and psychology and psychopathology. It led to my interest in public health and epidemiology, which eventually led me to my PhD.

What was the hardest thing about your experience 

Adapting to a less diverse city. As a black woman moving from London, a smaller town in Michigan took a while to adjust to.

How has your study abroad shaped the way you think now? 

It’s helped me become more open minded towards my education. It reduced my narrow depth of possibilities. And it also has given me the confidence to move more freely around the world. It also gave me confidence to do my masters research abroad.

Do you believe your experience has given you a competitive edge when it comes to finding a job and why?

I believe it has shown my resilience and ability to adapt to new settings. It also shows that I am willing to try new things and that I have a broader sense of understanding besides my degree. So I do feel as though if that was the only degree I had it would make a difference.

How did you fund your study abroad?

My study abroad was funded through student finance, I was given standard student finance based on estimated cost for the city. And I was also working part time whilst abroad.


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