By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
This month’s issue of Connections takes us around the world: from a summer architecture program in Rome to community service projects in the Dominican Republic, and many more stops in between. We’re excited to let you know what’s happening in study abroad programs and international education at Jesuit colleges and universities.
In today’s globalized and interconnected society, it is crucial for students to have exposure to life in countries outside of their own. As Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., president of Creighton University, explains in an article about Creighton’s international programs, “Involvement in the wider world is a critical component of life at Creighton. It stems from Creighton’s identity as a Jesuit university and reflects the nearly instantaneous emphasis of the Society of Jesus to engage, understand, and impact the world.”
Jesuit colleges and universities are finding new ways to collaborate across the world and help to serve those at the margins. In another article, you will learn about the impact of the Spring Hill College Italy Center on a recent Xavier University graduate. During her semester abroad in Bologna, Andrea Solis Canto had the opportunity to work with two organizations that support migrants in Italy, an experience that showed her “what solidarity rooted in love” looks like.
International education does more than open minds: it opens hearts and changes lives. Through this issue of Connections, I hope that you enjoy learning about the ways that our schools’ study abroad programs are doing just that!
By Jenny Smulson, Director of Government Relations, AJCU
Over the next few months, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will again take over the front page of the national newspapers. For DACA recipients around the country, the issue has remained a prominent concern, given the impact that the soon-to-be-decided case will make on their education, careers and families. A Supreme Court decision that overturns DACA would carry the very real prospect of upending every aspect of life for hundreds of thousands of individuals.
DACA was first established in 2012 by the Obama Administration, to provide protection for immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who met certain criteria. In September 2017, the Trump administration began the process of rescinding DACA, seeking a permanent end to the program in March 2018. During this time of legal uncertainty, DACA recipients were allowed to renew their status and re-register as part of the program (paying a significant $465 fee), all while continuing to provide their personal information to the government. In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court took up three legal cases related to the program’s legality and the Trump Administration’s termination. Now, nearly one year later, a decision will soon be made; there is great uncertainty about the direction the decision will take, and many fear it will not protect DACA recipients.
AJCU has long established itself as a voice on important issues like DACA. In partnership with the education and Jesuit communities, AJCU is dedicated to its ongoing advocacy to protect Dreamers. In 2013 and 2016, the presidents of AJCU and the nation’s Jesuit colleges and universities issued statements in support of undocumented students, affirming the idea that our “communities are immeasurably enriched by the presence, intelligence, and committed contributions of undocumented students,” and acknowledging the extraordinary contributions of immigrants to Jesuit education. Both statements show the presidents’ desire to welcome immigrants, and promote inclusion and dialogue on our campuses and throughout the country.
Last fall, under the leadership of the American Council on Education, AJCU joined 42 higher education associations in submitting an amicus brief in support of the DACA program as part of the Supreme Court deliberations. In addition, AJCU and individual colleges and universities have written to Congress to press them to take legislative action and provide protection for Dreamers. Bipartisan legislation passed the House (H.R.6/American Dream and Promise Act) and bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate (S.874/Dream Act of 2019). The Senate leadership has not scheduled further action on legislation.
On November 12, 2019, the first day of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments, AJCU joined with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and other Jesuit friends and allies, to march with the faith community and thousands of advocates to stand up for DACA. Earlier that week, AJCU marched with undocumented students and allies from Georgetown University along their route from campus to the Supreme Court.
As we await a decision by the Supreme Court, strategic engagement as a community is key. AJCU remains deeply committed to working with a broader coalition of education, faith and immigration organizations united in a mission to protect Dreamers, and to advance legislation to retain DACA. Working with this same broad-based community, we will seek to identify ways that all institutions of higher education can support the needs of DACA recipients immediately, which may include directing them to legal services, providing additional mental health support for the recipients and their families, and creating spaces for individuals to tell their stories. Our organization and our presidents will continue to speak out and call for Congressional leadership to support DREAMERS. AJCU will continue to work closely with our Jesuit partners – the Jesuit Conference’s Office of Justice and Ecology and the Ignatian Solidarity Network – to elevate this issue and advocate for a resolution.
There are resources available for those interested in learning more. AJCU has created a resource page on DACA, featuring personal stories from current DACA students and recent graduates who are contributing to the strength and vitality of our nation. Please visit the AJCU DACA Resource Page and check out the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Humane Immigration Policies page. In addition, the Office of Justice and Ecology within the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States offers important resources on its website, and the American Council on Education’s website is home to the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition. Please check back on the AJCU website frequently, as we will continue to update the page with advocacy information.
AJCU’s engagement conveys a commitment to our campus communities – our students, alumni, staff and faculty – some of whom personally feel the impact of divisive and exclusionary policies that leave them feeling hopeless during this challenging time. We look forward to working with campus and community leaders, faith leaders, Members of Congress, our DACA family and others who stand for justice to protect these individuals whose home is here.
By Kristin Agostoni, Alison Mullin and Kate Shirley, Marketing and Communications, Loyola Marymount University
For twelve days this summer, Rome will provide the perfect classroom setting for a group of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) students learning about the city’s rich history through the lenses of Christianity, art and architecture.
Co-taught by Rev. Marc Reeves, S.J., professor of theological studies and director of Catholic studies, and Kirstin Noreen, professor of art history, the course, “Christian Faith and Visual Culture in Rome,” will take thirteen students on a curated trek throughout the city in just under two weeks – providing an interdisciplinary summer study abroad experience that is grounded in the service of faith and promotion of justice.
This May will mark the sixth year that Loyola Marymount has offered the class – one of several condensed summer study abroad opportunities in locations around the globe. In a similar vein, LMU’s Global Immersion courses take students overseas for a week or two during the course of a semester.
When Fr. Reeves, Noreen and theological studies professor, Anna Harrison, first designed the course in 2014, the professors combined their various academic specializations – theology, history, art, art history and architecture – and set out to make a study abroad experience in Rome more accessible to students who may not be able to spend an entire summer or semester overseas. Fr. Reeves explained, “We developed our condensed, or intensive, study abroad program out of a desire to open up more study abroad opportunities to all LMU students. Because of the shorter time abroad, the cost is far less than longer programs. Moreover, the shorter program allows students to return to jobs and internships and earn more for their college expenses.”
Because of its condensed time-frame, the course actually begins during the prior winter break, when students are asked to read “The Confessions” by St. Augustine and prepare a written essay due at the start of the spring semester. In addition, a trio of three-hour seminar sessions are planned in the spring – the only time that students spend in a physical classroom. Students in this year’s cohort represent a range of majors: sociology, art history, studio arts, mechanical engineering and screenwriting, to name a few.
Once the LMU group lands in Rome, the instructors will follow an interactive and engaging curriculum that unfolds across the city. Students will attend class for all twelve days, and on some days from 9 AM to 7 PM.
The course is taught in situ: in the Roman Forum, at the Colosseum, inside Roman churches, underground in the catacombs, at the Jewish synagogues in Rome, in the Vatican Museums, and in the rooms where St. Ignatius of Loyola lived and worked for the last twelve years of his life.
“Rome’s status as a city filled with relics of different periods in the past helps students to understand how the city evolved and changed over time and the role that Christianity had in that process,” said Noreen, a professor in LMU’s College of Communication and Fine Arts. “From early Christian catacombs and medieval churches to the Church of the Gesù’s role in the Catholic Reformation and the rooms where St. Ignatius lived, each example of Roman art and architecture represents a different moment in history.”
Rome is especially significant for LMU students because of its Jesuit history. For students enrolled in the summer course, the final day of class is dedicated to learning about the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the development of the Society of Jesus, and the artistic traditions of the Jesuits.
A visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for the celebration of Mass at the side altar where St. Ignatius celebrated his first Mass in 1538, offers students an opportunity to steep themselves in Ignatian history and consider the spiritual legacy left behind to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians.
A moving experience for students in last year’s cohort was visiting the Scala Santa, or Holy Staircase, which Jesus is said to have climbed at the palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, where he was sentenced to death. Christian pilgrims climbed the marble staircase on their hands and knees for centuries until 1723, when the stairs were covered in wood to preserve them. As part of a restoration project undertaken by the Vatican Museums, the wood was removed temporarily so that the stairs could be cleaned and re-covered with fresh wood.
“For a brief time (last year), pilgrims to Rome had the opportunity to climb up the original marble stairs that have been severely worn down over the centuries by knees of pious pilgrims,” said Fr. Reeves. “The misshapen marble steps make for a painful climb, but those of us who made the climb on our hands and knees found it to be a very prayerful and moving experience that we will never forget.”
The course – which is open to students of all faith traditions and those without one – encourages personal reflection. “Each of our students, through their engagement with Christian art, architecture, history and theology, reflected deeply on matters of faith, transcendence, and the existence of a God,” said Fr. Reeves. “They were exposed to the incarnational vision that St. Ignatius possessed and so desired to share with others.”
As one student who completed the course explained, “I was able to come in without any sense of faith, and still be moved by LMU’s commitment to Jesuit tradition and education. Meeting people from around the world, I have been able to discuss inter-religious views with my friends, which we are encouraged to do. The openness and dedication that LMU has to religion comes from the values of St. Ignatius. I am grateful to have chosen a university that has enriched my life in ways that I did not expect.”
By Eugene Curtin, Office of University Communications and Marketing, Creighton University
Last November, Creighton University’s President, Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., announced a new initiative that would enhance Creighton’s global programming while addressing issues of sustainability. The Common Home Project builds upon a consistent theme of Fr. Hendrickson’s presidency: enhancing global opportunities at the University.
René Padilla, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Global Engagement at Creighton, says that the Common Home Project will consolidate Creighton’s global presence into fewer locations while yielding measurable results. “The underlying goal of the Common Home Project is to generate projects around the world that can be measured according to outcomes of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations,” says Padilla.
The University currently has approximately 100 global partnerships that allow Creighton students to study or serve abroad. While students generally say that these experiences contribute to their overall education, there is a need for more detailed reporting on outcomes. “Students participate in global programs, and then they graduate,” Padilla explains. “We haven’t been effectively tracking outcomes, for Creighton or our partner organizations, other than the learning of students.”
An example of effective reporting is a water quality program that Creighton started several years ago in the Dominican Republic, where the University has maintained a presence for 45 years through the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC). “This year, the program was funded by a $100,000 grant, and we did what we were supposed to — the measurement is exactly what we expected in terms of impact,” Padilla says. “It provided water to over 4,000 people who previously did not have water.
“We were able then to register that project and outcome with the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative at the United Nations, so that when they write their report on the Dominican Republic — and they’re writing about water, which is one of the goals — this contribution would be added into their report. Our goal is to do that type of tracking in five hubs in which we have partnerships around the world.”
The reforms enacted by the Common Home Project focus on five areas of the world, or “hubs,” emphasizing consistent, long-term work, and achieving results that are measurable and conform to U.N. goals and standards, for future inclusion in U.N. development reports. The focus areas are the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Uganda and the Philippines. Padilla notes that in the latter country, relationships are being formed with four Filipino universities within the Jesuit network.
Just one year prior to the Common Home Project, the University launched the Creighton Global Scholars program. A presidential initiative, Global Scholars study in at least four countries during their undergraduate careers. “In addition to preparing them for employment and leadership with international organizations, this program’s broadened perspective enriches the skill-set and — more importantly — the character of participants through immersion in foreign cultures,” Fr. Hendrickson says. “Intensifying global proficiency in the lives of Creighton students is a passionate interest of mine.”
Creighton also enjoys a robust relationship with China (which sends students to Creighton to achieve doctorates in the health sciences), and is enhancing a longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia, which once sent pharmacy and dental students to Creighton, but now focuses on emergency medical services education.
Keli Mu, Ph.D., OTR/L, professor and chair of Creighton’s Occupational Therapy Department, leads China outreach as director of Asia Health Science International Programs. He explains that the China connection began in 2005, when Creighton was approached by a hospital in Shijiazhuang, whose leaders were eager to develop an occupational therapy program.
Fifteen years later, the University maintains a robust exchange program that sees Chinese students visiting Creighton’s campus for summer programs, while Creighton pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and nursing students visit China during the fall. (With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the U.S. government has restricted travel into the United States from China, and Creighton has suspended all University-sponsored travel to China until further notice.)
“We are very proud to say that Creighton is well known in China in the field of rehabilitation,” Mu says. “When we attend a conference in China, or take our students there, the conference attendees, when they talk about the United States, always say Creighton University first.”
Creighton’s Heider College of Business also has an agreement with Shandong Jiaotong University in China, to facilitate more student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions. The College also sponsors a two-week immersion course to China’s Pearl River Delta region, with visits to Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macau.
While the Global Engagement Office is the locus of the University’s institutional outreach, it is not the only means through which Creighton students engage in international service and education. “There are student organizations that exist specifically to experience things abroad,” Padilla says. “We don’t run their programs, but we assist them as needed.”
Among these, Padilla notes, is Project CURA, a program of the School of Medicine, which, in 2019, saw students provide medical services and experience cultural immersion in Guatemala, India, Peru, Uganda, Vietnam and Indonesia. Others include the Model United Nations Club, whose members recently returned from a trip to Canada, and MEDLIFE (Medicine Education and Development for Low-Income Families Everywhere), which uses mobile clinics to promote health awareness at home and abroad.
Some foreign engagement opportunities involve a blend of service and learning, while others are wholly opportunities to study abroad, for a semester or even a full year. All of this, Padilla says, results in about one-third of Creighton’s student body experiencing service or study abroad at some point during their years at the University.
Creighton’s extensive foreign opportunities reflect the University’s approach to the educational experience. University President, Fr. Hendrickson says, “Involvement in the wider world is a critical component of life at Creighton. It stems from Creighton’s identity as a Jesuit university and reflects the nearly instantaneous emphasis of the Society of Jesus to engage, understand and impact the world. Creighton is well-positioned on the global stage, and we are poised to stand even taller.”
All photos courtesy of Creighton University.
By Andrea Solis Canto, Xavier University ‘19
I came into Xavier University confident that I wanted to study abroad in college, but had no specific place or program in mind. But during my freshman year, I came across the Spring Hill College (SHC) Italy Center program at Xavier’s Fall study abroad fair, and immediately became interested in learning more about what the program had to offer.
In addition to the key selling point of being able to spend a semester abroad in Europe, the SHC Italy Center prided itself in being an intentional and challenging program rooted in human rights and social justice. As a freshman, I was sold on the program based on one conversation. However, I had little understanding of just how much of an impact the SHC Italy Center would soon have on my life.
Five semesters after that first encounter, I finally arrived in Bologna during the spring of my junior year. As a double-major in Philosophy, Politics, and the Public and International Studies, I’ve always been interested in social justice and human rights; I was thrilled to have found a program that allowed me to continue learning more about my passions while abroad, one that challenged and pushed me to go out of my comfort zone. The SHC Italy Center offers students myriad ways to get involved and learn about social justice while becoming immersed in the local community. Each class and each trip always connects back to difficult questions about justice, and challenges students to look beyond the obvious.
In addition to my classes, I had the opportunity to do an internship during my semester abroad. I interned at the Happy Center and SCALO, two organizations that address issues around homelessness and migration through innovative projects that promote relationships and self-empowerment. At the Happy Center, I facilitated the Italian-English Tandem conversation with migrants and Italians. At SCALO, I provided support during the community laboratory hours, which were open to SCALO residents and to members of the Bologna community. While I got tangible things out of the internship (such as work experience), I learned more about the power and beauty of community, and was forced to grapple with the meaning of solidarity and the purpose of international service.
As an immigrant from Mexico who grew up in the United States, I have always been passionate about immigration issues, and am grateful that I was a part of a program that focused on human rights and the migration crisis. I went to Bologna ready to learn, but had no understanding of the gravity of the migration crisis on a global scale, and found it troubling to realize how human dignity is sacrificed across the globe.
My internship allowed me to confront the crisis head-on, while my classes helped me to better understand the socio-political climate in Italy regarding the migration crisis. It was troubling to realize the similarities in the anti-immigrant attitudes spreading throughout Italy and the United States; eventually, I reached a point in the semester where I was overwhelmed and disheartened by the injustices in our world, unsure of how to make sense of all my experiences. However, it was the people I met who helped me to find some understanding through faith and hope. In a conversation about social justice, the director of the SHC Italy Center once told our group about the importance of having a faith that does justice. He said, “The faith work is the hardest part. Don’t ever let go of it and keep working through it. Always make the space for it because without it, we’ll go bankrupt.”
At the time, I wasn’t sure how to find that balance of faith and justice in my life, but I found myself coming back to his words throughout the rest of the semester and even today. The work of faith and justice is a lifelong journey, but I now realize the importance of grounding myself in faith in order to continue fighting for justice with others, while unraveling who I am meant to be.
My experience interning in Bologna showed me what solidarity rooted in love looks like. My peers helped me to build community within the program, and made it possible for me to feel comfortable learning outside of my comfort zone. My professors taught me what it means to live a life dedicated to service and the importance of having a faith that does justice. Overall, it was the people I met who gave me hope. As overwhelming as it can be thinking about all of the injustices in our world, I found peace knowing that there are people everywhere who are actively working toward justice.
Leaving Bologna was bittersweet. I don’t know if I will ever go back or whether I will see the people who made such an impact on my life again. However, exactly one year after my semester, I continue to have a heart filled with love for the people I met, passion for working toward justice, and gratitude for the fire that the SHC Italy Center instilled within me to never be complacent, and to always seek for the Magis.
Andrea Solis Canto is a 2019 graduate of Xavier University, and former intern at AJCU. She now works as a Spanish Legal Support Professional at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH.
By Deborah Lohse, Associate Director of Media and Internal Communications, Santa Clara University
From their inception, the international immersion trips offered to students at Santa Clara University by the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, have pursued a classically Jesuit mission: to help students become global citizens ingrained with a deeper sense of their place in the world— all with a special focus on social justice in locations of greatest marginalization.
“We’ve always spoken to the Ignatian worldview: questions of what does it mean to be a contemplative in action…the Ignatian pedagogical circle, to see, judge, act, or witness, reflect, respond,” says Charles Mansour, director of immersions at the Ignatian Center. “That is built into all of our immersions, including our international programming.”
While trips to India, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guyana have been successful by many standards, in recent years, the Center has worked hard to make sure that the programs it offers truly prepare students to enter communities in a spirit of accompaniment—attentive to the realities of the community members’ lives; listening to the needs of the community rather than perceiving themselves as the source of solutions; and sharing the students’ own gifts as equals.
Students, too, have been asking more and more pointed questions about what it really means for them to “accompany” the marginalized communities they encounter. They would like to be better prepared to engage with these communities, while maintaining humility, curiosity, self-awareness and perspective. Their reflections after immersions have revealed how they sometimes felt tension between the communities’ expectations and their own desires to provide accompaniment.
One such incident surfaced when a cohort of Santa Clara students visited the Dominican Republic. They heard harrowing work stories from a group of Haitian people, who thought that the students would be doing something to help them beyond just listening and learning about their work conditions. In other countries, local communities put on dance or other cultural shows for the students, who felt uncomfortable being treated like visiting dignitaries.
These kinds of interactions have challenged students to think about how to make the experiences more mutually beneficial. “Our students are much more attentive and attuned to the risk of ‘the savior complex’ or ‘poverty tourism’,” says Mansour. “They invite us into even deeper reflection.”
The Ignatian Center has taken a number of steps to align immersions more closely to the goal of true accompaniment. First, the Center is conducting deeper searches for host partners that already have established, respected histories with the local communities. Often, that means finding hosts accustomed to immersions or missionary work, compared to more general connections in countries of interest.
One such partner is the Maryknoll order of missionary nuns, priests, and lay volunteers in East Africa, which has a longstanding and well-regarded reputation for providing health care, schooling, advocacy, pastoral accompaniment and economic advancement in the region. Ten Santa Clara students traveled to Kenya last September, where they were able to shadow health clinic workers who were distributing antiviral medicines, while also learning from families who invited them into their homes.
“The biggest takeaway was the value of finding organizations that have intimate, long-lasting, meaningful and enriching experiences in the community,” says Mansour. “Everywhere we went, we were received not only as students from Santa Clara or as representatives of the United States, but also as part of the Maryknoll network.”
The Ignatian Center also wants to establish a recurring presence at many international locations in order to build strong relationships and connections that can be built upon in subsequent immersion trips. That way, when a group knows that Santa Clara students will be arriving, “There might be a positive association and a real awareness that students are committed to relationship-building, asking questions, and doing these things that are really enriching alongside the community,” says Mansour.
Ensuring respectful accompaniment is an ongoing process. Mansour says, “You need to do so with intention, awareness of the impact that it’s having on the people you are visiting, and an acknowledgement that these are the people who know best.”
By Jeanette Grider, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Saint Louis University
This spring, hundreds of Saint Louis University (SLU) students from the University’s campuses in St. Louis, Missouri and Madrid, Spain, embarked on an academic adventure to broaden their view of the world.
Study abroad programs offer students opportunities to experience other campuses, countries and cultures while continuing their educational journey. From Europe to Asia, Africa to Central America and beyond, students with majors as diverse as business, STEM and the humanities – and sometimes those who are still defining their future path – leave not only home, but also their home campus for a semester. But how does a student prepare for that experience?
Margaret Kessler is a Study Abroad counselor at the St. Louis campus, who helps guide students as they prepare for their semester abroad. She was once a study abroad student herself, and observes how students can use the experience to step out of their classroom setting and use the world as their textbook. She says, “Whether it is practicing language skills with locals, seeing (with their own eyes) paintings and architecture that they have only seen in their textbooks, or participating in service learning or immersion experiences, students can grow and transform from their experiences abroad.”
Kessler says that sometimes she is totally surprised at the impact of studying abroad. One student who came to her for guidance, had an interest in visiting another country but was unsure about what kind of program would best suit him. A quiet student with decent grades, he needed a push; he came home a different person.
“After his semester abroad, he came back to see me and I could not believe he was the same student,” Kessler says. “He was very outgoing, very loquacious, and even decided to volunteer with our international ambassador program. He knew how hard it was to be abroad and wanted to be there as a support to our new students at SLU. The transformation he made always sticks with me as a reminder of how much our students grow and learn while they are abroad.”
At SLU Madrid, counselor Kate Brooks shares a similar view about the transformational power of the study abroad experience. “My favorite part about working in study abroad is connecting with the students after they have returned,” Brooks says. “Students come into my office, without even the self-assurance to apply for a passport on their own. They return with the self-confidence to do anything in the world. They’ve mastered navigating public transportation systems, figured out which places close during siesta, and found positive ways to deal with homesickness, culture shock and the stress of everyday life abroad.”
Brooks continues: “Before students come to Madrid, they think they have all the time in the world to accomplish their goals. When they return, they realize that they’ve only had a taste of Spanish life and culture. They wish to return to work on their language skills and spend more time with the people of Spain.”
Spain is just one of the many locations where SLU students study abroad. Sophomore Noah Bodimer grew up in St. Louis and is an international business major with a minor in French, now studying at the Catholic University of Lyon, France, this semester.
“I wanted to truly immerse myself in another culture and country to further my education and cultural awareness,” Bodimer explains. “Lyon offers a setting where I can improve my French abilities and work with students from around the world, granting me unforgettable insight into how to work in a global and ever-changing environment. My program allows me to dive into what my future career very well may end up [looking] like: where no person in my group is from the same nation, or we all come from drastically different economic or social backgrounds.”
He adds, “I have been able to make friends through finding things we have in common, and discovering Lyon together as we explore a new and exciting city with a vibrant nightlife and lots of history.”
Flannery Harman, a sophomore majoring in public health, who chose to study at the SLU Madrid campus, says that she wanted to see the world and experience a culture other than her own.
“Studying abroad was the perfect opportunity to understand another culture, see the world and still keep up with my academics,” Harman says. “I hope to learn about myself and the world. I think that going to another country and living life differently to what is ‘normal’ for you can be very uncomfortable at first, but you learn to adapt and you see challenges you can overcome. It is a huge confidence boost.”