Student Stories

Student Stories

These are the stories of Gator Engineers who studied abroad all over the world. Learn about their experience and adventure and how you can be one of the Gator Engineers Abroad too! 

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Kinting Mui, Industrial and Systems Engineering

I chose Hong Kong because I have not been to Asia since the age of 2 and it was a great way to practice my Cantonese while getting to know more of my Chinese culture. Spring 2019 marked the first authentic Chinese New Year I have ever celebrated in my 20 years of life. I had the entire week off and I spent it in Guangzhou, China with my only aunt that is left on this continent. The festivities leading up to Chinese New Year was one I will never forget especially the flower markets that fill the streets of China 3 days prior to Chinese New Year. 

Living here has shown me how every aspect of Hong Kong is so diverse, from the people to the languages spoken in the streets to the infrastructure of this space. There are people here from all walks of life and it is incredible to witness how the English language is the main form of communication that connects everyone together. Hong Kong may not have much land, but the buildings are high up in the sky and deep into the ground. It is unbelievable how many more floors there can be under the main entrance of every building! Yet amongst all the skyscrapers lies the beauty of the mountains in the distance. 

Domingo Alegria, Mechanical Engineering student

As a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering student, I decided to study abroad in Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University in Spring 2019 because of their prestigious engineering program and beautiful location. I was instantly intrigued with the idea of having a truly unique study abroad experience in a non-traditional location.
I remember feeling extremely excited, yet anxious as I boarded my flight to Singapore, where I would be 10,000 miles form home and have a 13 hour time difference with all my friends and family. As I arrived in Singapore, I looked up to the towering skyscrapers and saw the one of a kind “green” architecture and was completely memorized, as well as a little bit overwhelmed. Since that day I’ve met people from all over the world and made many different friends, both local and exchange students. I’ve tried all the different foods and teas Singapore has to offer, as well as explore the cleanest city in the world with my new friends. The best part about studying here is that you are very close to the rest of Southeast Asia, and so travelling is a must. We’ve traveled to places like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and even the Phi Phi Islands of Thailand. At first, I was really looking forward to returning home to Gainesville, but now I never want to leave Singapore!

Kalin Gabbert, B.S. Mechanical Engineering 2018

Studying abroad was easily the best decision I made in my college career. I just graduated with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I studied abroad at the University of Leeds in England for my entire sophomore year in 2016. I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, and when I came to UF in 2014, I immediately began my research. I was able to go to University of Leeds for a whole year and take engineering classes that counted towards my major! In England, not only did I take engineering classes, but I also participated in outdoor activities and joined the volleyball and ultimate frisbee club teams. I travelled the country with those teams and was able to compete and build lasting friendships. I also had the opportunity to travel all over Europe, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and many more countries while abroad. I had an incredible year and have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. I met great people, who are now some of my best friends.

I studied abroad for an academic year and was still able to graduate in 4 years, and with Cum Laude honors. I learned a lot about myself and grew tremendously both personally and professionally from my experiences. Going abroad allowed me to grow to be independent and put myself out there to try new things and meet new people. It was not always easy, but I truly believe that stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow.

It also opened many doors for professional development, because I was able to experience mechanical engineering in a different country and gain a new perspective. I also developed connections with professors and students in the department, further extending my connections around the globe.

Studying abroad was an incredible experience that I would highly encourage anyone to participate in. I was able to live in and experience a different country, stayed on track for my major, met tons of amazing people, and made memories to last a lifetime. I will always my time at Leeds, and it had such a large impact on my life that I will be attending the University of Leeds next year to pursue my masters. I cannot stress enough how great study abroad is, and how much it can truly change your life.

Oyewole Oyetunji, B.S. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 2018 

Studying abroad has been a dream of mine that I thought would remain just a dream. I was pleasantly shocked when I met with my advisors and learned that it was possible to spend a semester studying and living in a new country halfway around the world; dreams really do come true.

I am studying in Hamburg, Germany for Spring 2018 and I have had the most incredible experience so far. As a double major in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, I’ve been placed at the HAW (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences). I am living in a student dorm with 5 flat mates from all over the world: Rome, Korea, London, Russia, California.

One thing I love about Germany is the stellar education system. Each of my courses here meet for 3 hours a day every week and one of my classes includes a lab which meets every other week. The teaching system is very self-motivated, where the professors lecture during class and expect you to study outside of class on your own or with classmates. There is a different kind of pressure because 100% of my grades rely on the final exams at the end of the semester. With that being said my classes are going extremely well and I have learned a significant amount of practical knowledge, including some technical engineering terms in Deutsch. I am taking classes in Intercultural Competence, Finite Element Methods, Machine Cutting Technology, Aircraft Engines, and German Language A1. My favorite course so far is my Intercultural competence course because the course challenges us to expand the way we think to a more global perspective, in terms of interacting with other cultures both personally and in a business world. I hope to bring back my knowledge and experience to help further myself in my engineering career.

In the few months I have lived here I have grown to love and appreciate Germans and their country. I chose to live in Germany to expand my worldly perspective, step out of comfort zone to learn more about myself, and to receive the highest of quality education in aircraft engineering. My time in this country has taught me to push beyond my limits and to live each moment to the fullest. I want to thank my advisors who have made my study exchange possible and I can’t wait to share my complete experience once I return to the states!

Taha Khan, Biomedical Engineering, Pre-Med student

Left to right: UF Engineering freshmen Gabriel Caballero, Taha Khan, Bailey Zinkgraf, Anthony Khoury in Valencia

Study abroad is often considered a very limited option for engineering students. The myth is that students have to delay their graduation or to use their summer to travel and experience a new culture and engineering from a different perspective. That can often be challenging as engineering majors already have a strenuous workload and structured schedule.

As a freshman, I had a very similar opinion about study abroad as well. But through the International Engineering Program and this program, I was able to study abroad in Valencia for a semester and took General Chemistry 2, Biology 1, and Calculus 2, as well as Spanish language courses. Taking these classes abroad allowed me to stay on track for my degree while giving me the chance to travel and immerse in a different culture.

Ruben Jean, B.S. Civil Engineering 2014

My experience in Hong Kong was amazing. From learning Chinese culture firsthand to applying myself in civil engineering and construction classes, I was able to obtain a rich experience from this time abroad. My host university’s campus was beautiful and many of classes were in a brand new, state of the art classroom building complex. Many of my professors were quite engaging, and loved that they had a few exchange students in their classrooms, trying their best to relate course topics and practices to American society. I thoroughly enjoyed learning construction and engineering concepts from my professors. I was constantly adapting in order to achieve the goals I had set beforehand.

One of my favorite memories in Hong Kong was living in the student residence hall. The resident hall housed approximately 900 students, both international and local full-time students. Hall life was amazing in that it allowed hundreds of students to connect in a community where we could live, laugh, and learn about each other’s cultures.

Being in a different country has allowed me to improve my ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultures, since there were many times when the language barrier came into play and a message still needed to be communicated. This skill can translate to a benefit in the workplace, since being able to communicate with people from other cultures is a very desirable skill to have. With this, I will be able to better market myself to companies, especially those with an international presence.