Study and intern abroad experiences are valuable not just for the professional growth, but also personal development. One of my goals when planning to study abroad was to get outside of my comfort zone, but at the time, I did not know exactly what that would look like. I would not describe myself as an outdoorsy person and initially the idea of hiking, trekking or spending prolonged time in nature did not excite me. But, I ended up doing all those activities during my time in Chile because the country offers a very diverse and beautiful terrain to do so.
During such trips, the global community was very accommodating, and whether it was tour guides or Chilean students that helped me get through these endeavors, they did so in a responsive and reassuring manner. For example, when I went trekking up Cerro San Cristóbal, there was a time where I did not feel as though I could continue. But, some of the Chilean students stayed back and encouraged me to keep going. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience because we got to view the city of Santiago from the top of the hill. I am grateful to the global community for helping me along the way.
As a Gilman Ambassador, I hope to lift others up, like the global community did for me, by encouraging them to study abroad (and apply for the Gilman Scholarship) and helping them in their journey. In my presentations as an Ambassador, I have talked about trying new experiences and ways in which study abroad shaped me. Reflecting on this, being a Gilman Scholar is more than just a scholarship because it opens you up to new opportunities, not only for that semester or year, but even afterward. It is something that does not just stay with you during your time abroad, but is a lifelong experience that you carry.