The UConn Education Abroad program allows students to gain rich experience in other cultures by immersing themselves in the educational and social life of another country. At UConn, more than 400 programs spanning 54 nations are available. In the 2017-18 academic year, about 19 percent of the graduating class had participated in one of the programs, well above the national average of 10 percent. More than half of those students had spent a semester or year in another country. Here is one of them.
Name: Lisa Darminova
Major: Applied mathematics, with a minor in computer science
Program: Hong Kong, spring semester 2017
About: Darminova was born in Munich, Germany, and moved to Avon, Connecticut, with her family in her sophomore year of high school. She chose UConn because of her belief in public education. Darminova graduates this May and has already accepted a position with PwC in New York City, starting in August.
How did you get interested in education abroad?
“I actually didn’t know you could do it until my freshman year, when I was placed in a learning community called Global House. I was there with other freshmen and sophomores, but also with foreign exchange students who came to UConn for a semester or a year. My friends and I got to know the exchange students and saw how much they were getting out of being here. We naturally decided that we wanted to do the same. I wanted to go to Asia and picked Hong Kong. There were six other UConn students that went with me.”
What classes did you take?
“I took some of my general education classes there at the University of Hong Kong. Classes like the Urbanization of Hong Kong and Chinese History. We did projects like going to the rural areas of Hong Kong and writing about it. We studied different kinds of buildings, and how much work went into getting their skyline perfect. No building is allowed to block the view of the mountains, and there is a lot of planning on how tall and how wide each building should be.
“I took classes outside of my comfort zone, like an art history class. I learned so much about Hong Kong and China and all the things around it.”
What was living in Hong Kong like?
“I lived in an apartment with five other exchange students, one each from Norway, France, Japan, the United States, and Canada. Hong Kong was the first busy city I ever lived it. It’s very safe and very walkable. The university is placed right in the middle of the city.
“There are so many different people in Hong Kong. There is a big international community, so it’s easy to make friends.
“Hong Kong is also very diverse in landscape, and there are many other islands you can get to easily. I did a lot of hiking when I was there”
What was it like to come back home to the United States?
“People tell you that you will miss being away and you will be sad when you come back, which is true. It was nothing unexpected, I knew what I was coming home to. I did an internship with PwC (last summer) and my boss there, who was originally from South Africa, had worked in Hong Kong and that really helped me. I would recommend 100 percent to anyone to do an Education Abroad experience.”
Full story on UConn Today
By Mike Enright ’88 (CLAS) | Story courtesy of UConn Today