Name: Luis Rivera
Education Abroad program: Prague, Czech Republic, summer 2018
About: Luis Rivera grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and graduated from Bullard-Havens Technical High School. He is part of the Student Support Services (SSS) program at UConn, which assists students who are first-generation to go to college, from low-income families, and from populations underrepresented in higher education. He graduates from UConn this spring and already has a job lined up – as an auditor with PwC, a company where he has previously done summer internships.
Why did you decide to do an Education Abroad program?
I was born in Colombia and moved to the United States when I was three. I have been back there to visit, but that was the only time I traveled outside the U.S., and I wanted to experience a new country. In my accounting program, I needed 150 credits to become a CPA, so I needed some extra work which this trip would give me. I thought the Prague program would be a good fit for me academically and personally.
What was your experience like in Prague?
We took a Czech language class, which was cool, but really hard. We also took a writing class at Charles University. Prague was different for me, and there was a culture shock at first. People are more closed off there at first than other places. They are very quiet and reserved. So at first, I kept to myself, but at Charles University, the students were very outgoing. The Charles students were taking summer classes and they would say hi and come up to you. I transitioned well because I have been around a lot of different people.
You went on this trip as part of the SSS program. How did they help you on this trip and overall as an UConn student?
Without SSS, I would not be here to be honest. They helped me transition to college with a summer program before my freshman year, and we took a couple of classes to get our foot in the door. When I had my first challenges academically, they were a big help. We had about 20 SSS student on this trip. I learned a lot about a different country and met a lot of different people, even some people from UConn who were in a different class. I got an entire different experience from other people’s perspectives.
How do you think you experience in Education Abroad will help you as you begin your professional life?
My experience in an Education Abroad has taught me how to adapt quickly. In my professional life, this will be a crucial skill I need, to learn how to adapt to different clients, teams, and projects I get placed on.
Why do you think it is important for people to experience life in different countries and cultures?
I think it’s important to experience different cultures and countries to grow as a person. Meeting new people, experiencing different foods, and being a part of something different like a study abroad group will help further your growth.