Experiencing America: UGRAD Travel Stories

Experiencing the United States and American culture through travel is an essential part of the Global UGRAD program. During the semester, World Learning has heard many stories of the incredible experiences Global UGRAD participants have had around the U.S. Below are some highlights of the culturally-enriching places the spring 2023 Global UGRADs have traveled to!


Jorge Toro exploring the New York Public Library

“Hello everyone! I am Jorge Toro from Venezuela. For the last four months, I have been studying at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As part of my cultural enrichment activities, I had the opportunity to visit the vibrant and beautiful city of New York. I really understood why it is regarded as the “capital of the world.” It is impressive how many languages and nationalities you can notice in the streets. Also, it has a magic that challenges the impossible – for example, we randomly encountered other UGRADs in a city of millions of people. The view from the observation deck in The Edge is something unexplainable. There, you can see how big New York City is as the lights blur on the foggy horizon. It allows you to appreciate New York City’s delicate and unique blend of modern and classical buildings. Some of the other amazing places I visited there were the Public Library (look at that roof) and the busy Brooklyn Bridge.

Back in Pittsburgh, I also had the chance to attend a live concert of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the greatest and more prestigious symphonic orchestras in the United States. The show, titled “Women Rock,” recognized and celebrated the power, influence, and creativity of women in music and society. If at any moment in the future you have the opportunity to listen to “symphonic rock,” you won’t regret it!”

– Jorge Toro, Venezuela, Chatham University


Yaroslava Sudyma in front of a rocket at the Kennedy Space Center

“Hello! My name is Yaroslava, and I am from Ukraine. During spring break, we traveled to Florida because I couldn’t miss the chance to visit Kennedy Space Center, the world’s largest attraction for space lovers. Visiting the Kennedy Space Center was an awe-inspiring experience that left me with an even greater appreciation for the wonders of space exploration. The exhibits and displays at the center offer a glimpse into the history of NASA’s space program and the technology and innovations that have enabled humans to explore our universe. From the towering rockets to the detailed simulations of life in space, the Kennedy Space Center left me even more inspired to continue on my career path!”

– Yaroslava Sudyma, Ukraine, Murray State University


Sahadatou Hassane Seydou exploring Chicago

“My name is Sahadatou. I am from Niger and study at Troy University in Alabama. The United States is home to people from all over the world. As a result of this diversity and mixture of cultures, international students are able to experience a cross-pollination of cultures, exchange of ideas, creation of new opportunities for learning languages, and better understand different ways of life. For my cultural enrichment, I traveled to Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, where I visited most of the famous places that were well known in each city. Traveling around the United States was an exciting and enriching adventure that allowed me to experience the country’s multiculturalism.”

РSahadatou Hassane Seydou, Niger, Troy University


Andrei Alekseev’s photo outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis

“I am Andrei Alekseev from Russia. During my spring break, I visited Memphis, Tennessee – the home of Elvis Presley and blues music. It is also known as the place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Lorraine Motel, where he was killed, is now an impactful museum of civil rights. Another part of that trip was Nashville, the “Athens of the South”. They even have their own replica Parthenon. Nashville is a place where you can hear country music on every corner. Thanks to Global UGRAD for the possibility to dive into American culture!”

– Andrei Alekseev, Russia, University of Mississippi


Tran Bao Ngoc Than enjoying a performance of Moulin Rouge on Broadway

“Greetings from the University of Maine! My name is Tran Bao Ngoc Than and I am from Vietnam. I spent my spring break in New York City with a group of international friends from my university and we had a blast there! We went to a lot of famous destinations including The Met, Museum of Modern Art, National Jazz Museum, Brighton Beach, Times Square, New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, and Broadway. Personally, I loved the Met and the Broadway show the most because they’re forms of art that I’m naturally drawn to. I feel like I can spend days and days just walking around the Met to see the huge collection of art there. On Broadway, I went to see Moulin Rouge. It was the best show I’ve ever watched in my entire life!

The thing I loved about this trip was not only the beauty of New York City but also the bond between my friends. Together, we discovered the city, tried the national food of each member of our group (Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, Korea), and listened to everyone talk about their national traditions. Since we stayed together, we had more time to talk,¬† so the bond became stronger and stronger. Admittedly, I’m not a city person. I never have had much interest in big cities. However, New York is something different. It’s beautiful, cosmopolitan, crowded, chaotic, and very charming. I will definitely be back here someday. I hope every single one of us can get to where we want to be: the right place at the right time.”

– Tran Bao Ngoc Than, Vietnam, University of Maine