Shaianne Nickerson

Shaianne Nickerson
Student Ambassador , UNC Chapel Hill
Email:shai@live.unc.edu
School:UNC Chapel Hill
CYA Term:Spring 2018
Major:Global Studies
Anticipated Graduation Month/Year:May 2020

Based on your experience with CYA, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester or summer abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development? 

Henry Miller once said that “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” The world has magnificent depth, and through study abroad, I believe that I have been transformed into a mature, well-rounded person who can appreciate this depth in every aspect of my life. Renown as an inevitable side-effect of living abroad is a person’s extraordinary, widened perspective. I have been thrust into a culture that is not my own, and I have accepted and learned from this unfamiliar environment. I now have a greater appreciation for other cultures as well as my own. It’s easy to get stuck in the bubble of your own experience, but studying abroad teaches you that there’s so much more out there. Other long-term benefits include enhanced flexibility and independence; it takes a lot of this to thrive abroad. I believe that studying abroad with CYA has acted as a catalyst; transforming me into a strong individual that can handle the challenges thrown at me. CYA has also contributed to one of the largest choices of my life, in my decision to pursue a career in study abroad. The entire experience, from applying and preparing to come to Greece to my actual time spent studying with CYA, was just very enjoyable and influential. In conclusion, my experiences abroad provided me with a plethora of unforgettable experiences, priceless friendships, and it also allowed me to solidify a path for my future.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are interested in or planning to study abroad with CYA? What do you wish you knew before starting your study abroad experience?

When I was considering study abroad, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I belonged to a very low-income family; I had never traveled outside of the eastern U.S., never been on a plane, and had very limited experience interacting with other cultures. However, throughout my childhood, I always had a fascination with the unfamiliar. I enjoyed reading and latched on to world literature at an early age; the different cultures and customs captivated my interest, and I always dreamt of experiencing these different cultures myself. When I was accepted into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, many of my dreams turned into real possibilities. This included the opportunity to travel; as a freshman, I was awarded my first passport from Carolina Global Initiatives. This leads me to my first point of advice: talk to your school about opportunities you may qualify for. There are so many awards and scholarships that aren’t broadcasted that could change your plans and present you with golden opportunities! Make sure that you seek those out. Furthermore, after being accepted to the CYA program, I was feeling very anxious about living in a new country on my own due to my limited travel experience as an adolescent. Looking back on this apprehension, I realize that I had nothing to worry about. Throughout my time in Greece, I have met the most compassionate people, from the CYA staff to the Greek locals. I have never had a helpless moment; there has always been someone happy to help me through the troubles I have faced. Therefore, my second piece of advice is don’t let worry cloud your mind and distract you from the wonderful experience ahead of you!

What would you be willing to share about your CYA experience with other students?

  • LGBTQ student
  • Accessibility services
  • Finances while abroad
  • Religion while abroad
  • Mental health while abroad

What extracurricular activities were you involved with in Greece?

Marble Carving Workshop

Briefly describe a cultural experience you had that was significant to you in any way.

Greek Easter on the island of Milos! It was a very personal experience and the locals were very happy to teach us about their traditions. From reenactments to bomb competitions, it was unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Favorite food in Greece?

Moussaka

Favorite class you took at CYA?

Ancient Macedon to the Death of Alexander the Great