Going overseas to study

Originally from Bulgaria, Denitsa is a first-generation college student who pursued higher education in the United States at the age of 26.
She received her B.A. degree in Journalism and Media Studies (with minor in Film Studies) in 2009 and later, in 2014, obtained her masters degree in the same major from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
Prior to enrolling in college, Denitsa worked onboard cruise ships and travelled the world for nearly nine years. While at UNLV, she also worked within the Division of Student Affairs and later, served as a graduate and teaching assistant for the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies during which time she taught an introductory course of journalism and mass media.
Denitsa has a passion for writing, photography, research, and academia and hopes to continue to be involved in the higher education community.
Currently, Denitsa lives in Henderson, Nevada and is in the process of researching options to further continue her education in order to obtain a Ph. D. in the near future.

What’s on your bucket list? Graduating from college, having a successful career, raising a healthy and happy family?

All of the above can still be a part of something bigger, an opportunity offered at many colleges and universities around the world and something that could, and most likely would, transform who you are. It is the chance at getting to see the bigger picture while studying abroad, getting to experience different cultures, and becoming a global citizen. In a nutshell – expanding your horizon.

I am originally from Bulgaria and in a way having studied and now graduated from college here in America, from my perspective, stands for a study abroad gig in itself. Though I gained a lot of new experiences and acquired valuable knowledge much different than the experiences and knowledge I would have gained back in my home country, having the opportunity to comingle with a different culture altogether is the thing I will cherish for the rest of your life.

Prior to joining the higher education realm, I traveled the world as part of the hospitality staff onboard cruise ships. Thinking back to those nine years of my life, between the age of 18 and 27, I remember visiting some of the most fascinating places and meeting some of the most interesting characters on the planet. These encounters made me realize where I wanted to take my career path in the future – after all I was not planning to work on ships for the rest of my life. So somewhere between the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, or maybe it was Alaska and South America, I decided it was time to join the higher education realm.

Why the United States you may ask?
Well, for many reasons I won’t get into detail right now, but I had my mind set on the country ever since I was a small child – it was the combination of Hollywood movies, rock music, and the American popular culture altogether that intrigued me.
And the way one should look at choosing a school abroad is quite similar. Think back to a place you read about in a story, a friend in high school told you about, or perhaps saw in a movie, that made you want to look into it further or even go there someday “when you grow up.” This is exactly how it began for me.

The best thing one can do when considering a study abroad program is to first look into the culture and lifestyle of the country in question, because, let’s face it, even if the school is top notch, if you hate the food and/or the way the locals speak or behave for example, you may have an extra difficult time adjusting.

Once your mind is set, think about the native language … Is this a language you are willing to acquire even at the more basic level? Frankly, though many nations around the world use English as a first or second language, you could feel like a fish out of the water if you don’t even know some of the basics of the locals’ mother tongue.

Researching the school and programs themselves is of course part of the process. Keep in mind, if you are already enrolled in a college or a university here in the United States, chances are there is already and existing department focusing on international and study abroad options that could guide you further and help you narrow down your choices.

Most importantly, whatever choice you make, you have to keep an open mind and be accepting (and even more so curious and amused) throughout the entire experience. It is all about soaking it all in, looking for lessons to learn, and making valuable connections along the way. After all, this is what I like to call, both literally and metaphorically, a true expanding of your horizon.

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