Interview: Samantha Raghu ’21, Gilman Scholarship Recipient Posted on September 13th, 2019 by

What is your study away plan? Would you please describe your program?
During Fall Semester of 2019, I will be studying abroad in Thailand through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC). The program “Southeast Asian Economics, Politics, and Culture Studies” is a semester-long program located at Chiang Mai University (CMU) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The program seeks to build the knowledge of students regarding sociopolitical and anthropological studies of Thailand through interdisciplinary courses such as: diplomacy, environmental sustainability, structural economics and immigration. Some of the specific courses offered include Diplomacy in Southeast Asia, Global Environmental Politics and Social Movements, and Sustainable Agriculture Development.

What scholarship(s) or other funding have you received? How are these sources helping make your plans possible?
I was awarded the Leslie Schneider Scholarship through Gustavus along with the Gilman’s International Scholarship. Receiving financial aid from both of these scholarships with great financial stability through its ability to cover much of the program costs along with additional expenses such as airfare, textbooks, food, and transportation costs while abroad. Along with a sense of financial ease, the aid from Schneider and Gilman scholarship have allowed me to thoroughly prepare myself for Thailand by helping me retrieve certain necessities such as my passport, visa, and proper clothing/gear needed.

What advice would you have for other students who would like to receive a study away scholarship or even maybe think they will not be able to afford to study away?
A pivotal piece of advice I would like to offer students is to always seek out a study abroad program regardless of intuitive belief. Before I began my studying abroad process, I was very doubtful that I would ever be able to pursue the opportunity because of financial difficulties and personal fears. However, with the encouragement of family and closest friends, I was able to reach out and make connections with the CICE department and found an affordable program that sparked my interest and pertained to my course of study. Additionally, apply to as many scholarship opportunities available. While many scholarship programs are competitive and require a lot of time and thought process, don’t let that discourage you! The benefits of receiving a scholarship unequivocally outweigh the stress! 

What are some of your other activities or interests? How is study away a part of the overall picture for you, given your various interests?
Since I grew up in a small town, a favorite activity of mine has always been exploring different locations and comparing various cultural aspects to my hometown such as architecture,  cuisine, clothing, and ethnic makeup. Through this form of comparative analysis, I began to emerge myself in cultures outside of my own and developed an appreciation for the presence of diversity. I hope to continue this cultural immersion throughout my time in Thailand while visiting various cities, towns, etc.

What are your future plans? How do you imagine that studying away will contribute to reaching your goals?
After my time at Gustavus, I plan to take a year off of schooling before pursuing a graduate program for my major. During that year, I wish to further practice the skills I have gained in my field of study through hands-on experience. For instance, as a political science major, the ability of asking questions and seeking out answers through immense observation is a necessity. Essentially, the most efficient way of developing these skills is through hands-on experience. I believe through my study abroad program, I would be able to engage myself in this program that would provide me with the skills of intense analysis and exploration of political issues beyond its surface.

What is one thing you hope to learn or experience while studying away, and also one fun activity or personal interest you hope to pursue?
Some things I hope to take away from my time abroad is simply the experience of being a college student attending Chiang Mai University and the means of dealing with certain struggles that potentially accompany this experience such as culture shock and lack of familiarity. Additionally, I hope to discover the differences and similarities between Thailand and the U.S. specifically regarding forms of mannerisms, adaptive strategies and everyday privileges taken for granted. I am also immensely excited to start collecting and sharing my experiences and memories I make through journaling and blogging!


Comments are closed.