Mang'ula, Tanzania: Parks and People: Landscape Architecture (Summer)
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Hope Bodenschatz

Liberal Arts Major(s): Economics, Political Science
Other Major: Geography
Hometown: State College, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

My study abroad in Tanzania was my first trip overseas and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to visit Africa. The best part of my experience was embracing the opportunity to be brave and step outside my comfort zone every single day. Tasting new foods, camping, close encounters with Tanzanian wildlife, conversing with local people, exploring Tanzanian towns and villages, hiking and going on safari in Tanzanian national parks, and many more escapades added up to an unforgettable and life-changing adventure. I came home with many fond memories and a new perspective on living life to the fullest.

The best part of my experience was embracing the opportunity to be brave and step outside my comfort zone every single day.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Living and learning in Tanzania for the first six weeks of the summer proved to be the quintessential study abroad experience and fit well into my academic plan. I earned nine credits, learned to interact with and acclimate to a different culture, and gained invaluable research experience. The intensive coursework gave me a solid foundation in the political, economic, and social facets of sustainability issues in developing countries. Each student conducted individual research on sustainable community design, which allowed us to work on the frontier of knowledge and leave Tanzanian government and nonprofit officials with new information to consider.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in economics with a goal of working in academia focusing on development economics. My experience in Tanzania allowed me to get a sense of where this career path could take me and to experience the challenges of a research project in a foreign country. My study abroad experience reinforced my interest in working alongside others to solve intractable social problems in the United States and the world. I gained confidence that I would enjoy working in an academic setting and realized an interest in living and working abroad.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

I am grateful to the Paterno Fellows Program for pushing me out of my comfort zone to pursue new experiences and achieve my academic potential. My Penn State honors coursework prepared me to make the most of my study abroad experience and to tackle new assignments and expectations. The Paterno Fellows Program encourages its students to leave the comfortable and familiar and fully engage with the shared joys and struggles of the world around us; this support allowed me to take a chance on a study abroad opportunity which has made me into a stronger scholar, individual, and global citizen.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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