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Meet Kayla Watson

A student, Kayla, in the street

Program and Location:

NC State European Center; Prague, Czech Republic

Why did you choose to study abroad?A student, Kayla, in front of Dancing House with her friend

I choose to study abroad in Prague because of the direct connection to the College of Design.

What did you learn about yourself?

I gained a greater sense of independence and learned I that I like cooking.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I loved the ability to travel to other countries in a weekend and experience a breadth of different cultures.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

I was surprised and amazed at how connected people are in the world. Whether it be through food, dancing, language (I was amazed that many people I met spoke 3+ languages), or just people’ s cultural knowledge of what’s going on in the United States and the world.

A pond

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

Really try to engage with the culture and sub-cultures on a deeper level. There are so many opportunities to meet people, do things you love, and go to amazing events that allow you to learn about the culture you are living in. Some of the best experiences I had abroad were the unexpected interactions I had with different sub-cultures.

Would you do it again?

In an instant! 4 months wasn’t enough

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

While commuting around the city or riding the tram people did tend to stare. Unlike in the States, if you catch someone staring at you, they will look away. But in Prague some people didn’t break eye contact. However, they weren’t staring to be malicious, but it was just because this was out of the norm for them.

Prague's nature and rooftops

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

Connect with other NC State students or others traveling abroad. Although it is great to meet new people from different cultures, it is good to have a support group or meet people who share similar experiences as you. However, if you feel like the place you are studying lacks in diversity, I suggest traveling to more diverse countries to better see how the world connects with people of different backgrounds. But also be aware of the (racial) climate of the countries you are traveling to.

Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?

I went abroad with good friends who were also people of color, so we found support in each other. I luckily didn’t have any bad encounters while abroad.



This post was originally published in Study Abroad.