Panama Alumni Update by Jessica Maria Cruz Barrios

Global UGRAD was for me the start of an unimaginable journey where I discovered that everything is possible if I give it a shot and do my best. Being recipient of this scholarship brings the best of you in so many areas. Global UGRAD opened my eyes to cultural and academic aspects in a way I never imagined. While being at the University of Kansas, I had the opportunity to meet so many people from around the world in just one place, which helped me to adopt some of the habits they had to improve my soft skills.

Once I returned from the exchange, I remember I suffered from what everybody talked talked about before: “reverse cultural shock”. Before leaving I thought that it wouldn’t be my case and I would be able to make a perfect transition, but it was not so… leaving my university and all my friends was something that hit me hard for days. However, life continues and I focused on my priority which was to finish my degree. Who would think that one year later, I would be back to Washington D.C through a scholarship sponsored by Panama’s government doing an internship for fall semester?

Although I’ve been catching up with the busy life in Washington D.C, I’ve been able to explore more fine places and even travel to other states like California. While being in California, I met with the current Global UGRAD from California State University along with another Global UGRAD alum, Lady Jurado. We spent some time chatting about the Global UGRAD experience and sharing advice before flying back to D.C.

Meeting current GlobalUGRADs brought me back memories of my student life in Kansas, and I felt so happy to be able to listen to their experiences. I also felt moved to realize that I was in the position to give advice as alumni. It is funny how life makes sure to bring you back to things you love, and I realized that although I finished the program last year, the lessons still remain as well as a big international family that keeps growing. I’m glad to always say “Once a UGRAD always a UGRAD”.

Written by Jessica Maria Cruz Barrios (Panama), University of Kansas, Global UGRAD 2016-17