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Finding Solutions for Obstacles to Come

Travelling from Los Angeles to Ann Arbor embark on a four-to-five-year commitment
was secretly terrifying. While I acted calm and collected on the outside, I knew there were many
obstacles I had to overcome. I remember hearing stereotypes of winter, which I never
experienced before, and the social dynamic of the people. I had to find scholarships to finance
my own travels to the university and coordinate with the adults who wanted to accompany me. I
needed proper attire, since California clothing is not very acceptable in Michigan, and not to
mention countless dorm supplies that could not fit in the two suitcases I brought with me. I left
my friends who I cherished as much as family, and I said goodbye to everything I knew. While
my Global and Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) trip to Peru may not be as
daunting, many of the same obstacles align. In order to be successful, which involves making
this trip a reality, I must set myself up to overcome these hurdles.
The first set of difficulties I will discuss are ones that seem to me to be a little more out of
my control. The biggest hindrance I have is monetary support. I can apply to as many relevant
scholarships I can find, but many purchases have deadlines, such as my plane ticket, and I am not
exactly sure how to navigate this process. I am trying my best to work with my faculty allies to
find the best solution to this problem. One next step for me is looking into Diversity Abroad
scholarships and trying to find one relevant to this trip. I believe taking a look outside of
organizations directly connected to the University of Michigan is a great back-up plan. The
reason why finances are such a challenge is because the financial aid I would be getting to
finance this trip needs to go to my spring classes, which are absolutely essential for me to take
this upcoming spring semester to stay on track with my academic goals. Therefore, I must rely
solely on outside scholarships for funding. The next obstacle I have is coping with the physical
environment of Peru. I am not exactly sure what this entails of yet, but considering that the
community still cooks over open fires, I imagine they are very limited on resources easily
accessible in the United States. As a young woman, this means a lot to my hygiene. I will work
with my program supervisor to know the physical standards ahead of time, and prepare to the
best of my ability. Lastly, I am slightly concerned about my GPA. I currently have a 3.6
cumulative GPA, but I am taking 16 credits mostly composed of science and engineering classes,
and I fear that it may drop. I am trying my best to change my academic habits to produce a
successful semester. One thing I am doing differently is trying to study before the weekend

before my exams. I also joined a study group that coordinates with each science class. I do
believe that my GPA will turn out to still be above a 3.0, but I am still generally slightly
The next few obstacles are ones I believe I have a lot of control over. Since I grew up in
Los Angeles, I was constantly surrounded by many denominations of people of Hispanic origin.
In just one day, I would often talk to a Peruvian, Guatemalan, Mexican, Salvadorian, and Cuban.
Since these people were the majority in my community, cultural stereotypes I may hear bear no
effect on me. The only thing that I fear is dealing with the language barrier, since my homestay
family may know no English, but I grew up going to friends households where only different
types of Spanish were spoken, and I was still able to function and build a connection to the
families. The next obstacle I have is ensuring I am organized enough to handle this trip,
especially considering my lack of parental influence. However, I truly believe I am equipped for
this after my travel to the University of Michigan, my independent upbringing derived from my
ten-year foster home, and all of the leadership positions I held in which I were responsible for
multiple people. Since I ask many questions, I am confident that I can attain enough information
to successfully organize this trip. Lastly, I will cope with the emotions of leaving America. I
never get homesick, because my definition of home was changing as an adolescent, but during a
recent trip to Canada, I realized America-sick is a thing. I never understood how privileged even
the underprivileged Americans are until I went to Canada. While of course the physical
atmosphere does not compare, there is something about knowing exactly how all of ones
identities affect oneself, knowing the country history and the contribution of ones ancestors, and
knowing what to expect on a daily basis that brings a typically unnoticed comfort as a US
Citizen. While in Canada, I did not have these traits, and I can only imagine what will become of
them while spending a month in Peru. However, I am still very excited to be immersed in another
culture and I believe that this unique experience will allow me to compensate for leaving my
comfort zone.
I will not allow any of the obstacles discussed limit me, but rather make plans to
overcome them. I do, however, have a few suggestions for how the Comprehensive Studies
Program (CSP) can help, outside of monetary support. During the GIEU session I attended that
was CSP sponsored, we discussed what mindsets we should have as Americans, generally
defined as the non-savior mindset and one that is conscious of how we are viewed. We were told

that our sub-identities would drop, and we would be seen as just American. I believe all students
traveling abroad would benefit from a workshop that goes more in-depth on what this means. All
of my other obstacles are either site specific or more personal to me, and are being well
accommodated for already. For instance, I only know about the Diversity Abroad scholarships
because it was made on a CSP announcement. I can use my Academic coach to help me organize
the logistics of the trip and manage my GPA outcome. The other remaining obstacles will be
handled within my team for the study abroad trip during our ten meetings before this semester