My international experience was life changing. When I initially was transferred to the Cyprus study abroad group because of Covid traveling restrictions in the Netherlands, I was hesitant because I did not know a lot about the country and it wasn’t my first choice. However, after reading the itinerary and learning more about Cypriot culture, I knew that I would have a great time. After arriving in Cyprus, my group was greeted with representatives from the University of Nicosia (UNIC). Our assigned tour guide for the duration of the trip was knowledgeable, helpful, and kind; it was evident that she truly wanted us to enjoy our time in Cyprus as much as possible. Throughout our trip, she gave us tours of different parts of the university, introduced us to staff, and coordinated lectures for us to listen to. Furthermore, a large component of the trip was allocated towards company tours and meetings with company executives. Some of the companies that we had the opportunity to visit include Vassiliko Cement, Medochemie Pharmaceuticals Company, Wargaming, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) MAritime Training Center, Dubai Ports World, Eurogate, and more. Of the company visits, my favorite was Vassiliko Cement Company because I was able to talk to a chemical engineer that had over thirty five years of experience working for Vassiliko. He was able to give me some general engineering advice as well as walk me through what a typical work day is for him. Because he has so many years of experience, he was able to discuss all of the different roles he has filled throughout his career and how he was able to climb the management ladder. This particular engineer went to graduate school to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA). He said that this degree allowed him to be able to work his way up in the company. Before embarking on my trip to Cyprus, I was considering grad school for an MBA degree, and ,after seeing firsthand how it jump-started a chemical engineer’s career, I am more certain that I will attend graduate school. The company visits in particular helped me visualize my professional career as well as plan my academic years.
Additionally, the other half of the trip was allocated for exploring cultural sites. We got to see breathtakingly beautiful places full of history such as Aphrodite’s rock, the Tomb of the Kings, famous mosques, sea caves, and an abandoned city. Through these tours, I learned so many facts but most importantly found a deep appreciation for other cultures and preserved history. Cypriots have done an amazing job making historical sites easily accessible and well maintained. Being immersed in a new culture has allowed me to grow personally throughout this trip.
My biggest takeaway from the trip is that almost every Cypriot that we met was joyful and proud of where they are from. I hope to bring that kind of positivity and panther pride back to Oakland. I think that being a more positive person will benefit me in every aspect of my life, especially when dealing with critical problems in the workplace. I cannot thank the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors College and Swanson School of Engineering for giving me the opportunity to study abroad as well as the generous donors that made my dream my reality. I am blessed to have had this opportunity.