Where did students study abroad this summer?

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Bird-eye view of the streets of Hongdae, 24, July, 2023, (Photo taken by Paree Chan)

Summer break may officially be over, but the days of scorching Las Vegas heat are not. Over the summer, some rode out those hot days at home, but some escaped to more tropical destinations. Where did UNLV students study abroad this summer? 

Eidan Gutierrez, a senior majoring in international business, studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand this summer. He attended Chiang Mai University and recalls being stressed during the spring semester. He was juggling finals, projects and classes on top of securing scholarships, visas and planning the trip. Ultimately, he was able to secure enough scholarships to fully fund his trip abroad.

For Paree Chan, a public health senior who studied in Seoul, South Korea, the most nervous part was her newfound freedom and independence. Her trip to South Korea was her first time flying alone. She also said that she was also nervous to meet new people, but for her, that ended up not being an issue due to other exchange students being friendly. Chan did not experience any culture shocks because she had Korean friends in the U.S. However, Gutierrez would say differently. 

He said, “The biggest culture shock that I remember was the mannerisms and taboo surrounding a person’s body. In Thailand, you cannot touch somebody’s head, even if you’re close or it’s done in a joking manner or an endearing way, like it’s super rude to do something like that because they view the head as sacred.”

Nevertheless, both students had plenty of opportunities to explore their countries outside of the universities they studied in.

Chan said visiting Jeju Island in South Korea was the most memorable moment of her trip. Chan said, “One of my favorite experiences was going to Jeju. Jeju is like a little island off of Korea, and it’s kind of like Korea’s Hawaii. It’s very tropical; there’s lots of beaches. It’s very luxurious and there’s villas and there’s a bunch of things to do there.” At Jeju, Chan tried rockfish stew, ate beef tartare and had sashimi, which she said is very different from sashimi in the States. In Thailand, Gutierrez ate lots of papaya salad and street food at Thailand’s famous street markets.

Gutierrez recalls visiting many historical sites in Thailand, with the most memorable being a temple called Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. “When you go there, it’s so much bigger and grander than you can imagine, like the thing is huge. It’s taller than my house for sure.”

For Chan, time away from a familiar environment helped her grow as a person. For students thinking of studying abroad, she advises, “With studying abroad, they don’t know how to get started. They don’t want to take the initiative to do all the steps for study abroad. It’s a long process. Before you get there, there’s a lot of things you have to do. Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking, like finding your own housing, living alone, but I think the biggest step I would give is to get into it.”

For students looking to study abroad in the future, Gutierrez advises, “Be aware and open-minded. The study abroad experience is a demanding one because it’s like you’re thrown into an entirely new environment and expected to establish yourself and grow in a short period of time. It can be highly stressful because of how stimulating it is, so it is important to just be aware of everything going on around you and maintain an open mind to all the differences and challenges you’ll face. The study abroad experience definitely isn’t for everyone, but I would just like to advise that if you want to give it a shot, you should because it’s so rewarding and it doesn’t have to be hard and complicated at all. It’s really up to what you can make out of the whole experience.”Interested in studying abroad and ready to take that leap of faith? Contact our international program’s office at international.programs@unlv.edu and follow them on Instagram at @unlvabroad. If you’re still curious about Eiden Gutierrez and Paree Chan’s experience abroad you can contact and follow them on Instagram, Gutierrez’s @dinthemoon and Chan’s @p.ar.ee.

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