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“Studying abroad left me great friends from all over the world”: Marcela Palacio

Studying abroad not only implies changing country, learning a new language, meeting new people and adapting to a new culture.

marcela_palacio1Studying abroad not only implies changing country, learning a new language, meeting new people and adapting to a new culture.

It also means interacting with different educational models in which the student´s autonomy is the leading role .This was Marcela Palacio´s experience, researcher from the School of Law of Universidad Sergio Arboleda, who since August 2012 started the adventure of studying an S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) in Intellectual Property, at American University Washington College Of Law “The first day of class, I was expecting a typical first day in which the teacher introduces himself. But as soon as I arrived to the classroom I noticed that all my classmates had books and reading material , fully aware of the topics of the class… I didn´t even knew we were assigned a book!

I felt like in the movie The Mona Lisa Smile, where Julia Roberts enters the classroom and all the students had memorized the book. When I got the courage to ask why did everyone knew what we were supposed to do, except me, I learned that all the classes had a virtual classroom assigned in which the teacher specified all the activities and reading materials previous to the class.

Lawyer from Universidad Sergio Arboleda and Magister from American University Washington College of Law. Marcela shared with ORI NEWS her international academic experience and explained why is it worth it to leave Colombia and be opened minded to live new experiences in a foreign country.

What was your motivation for pursuing an SJD in a foreign country and not in Colombia?
I wanted a change in my life. After studying my whole life in Colombia I wanted to experiment new things and live new experiences: have access to new methodologies, new academic environments and new tools.

What are the lessons this experience left you?
I learned that there is more than one way of doing things. Having the opportunity to live and study in another educational system with other perspectives, allows you to open your vision of the world and of life. We are not speaking here about gaining knowledge about a specific topic, we are talking about engaging a new way of thinking and of approaching this knowledge that enriches a previous mindset.

What was the best part of studying your SJD in Washington?
The diversity of the city. Washington is filled with foreigners. This allowed me to interact with many different cultures and meet excellent people that otherwise I would have never had the opportunity to meet. In others words, this experience left me great friends from all over the world.

What do you believe are the main differences between studying a postgraduate course in Colombia and in studying it in a foreign country?
It depends of the country you choose. Studying abroad allows you to experience new methodologies and educational systems.

What did this academic experience brought you?
It brought me not only great knowledge in my area of specialization but it was also a unique way of learning. Living in another country with different customs, a different language, different meals, is something rewarding in every way.

Why would you recommend living an international academic experience?
Definitely it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. Describing every experience, adventure and all the things I learned is impossible. However I can say that it was a transforming experience and I would recommend it to everyone.

What did you like the best about the city ?
Washington is an enchanting city. Its infrastructure and organization makes it a beautiful city: it gives you joy the simple fact of walking around. Besides it is a beautiful city filled with nature. It is very common to spot squirrels, rabbits , deers and other animals walking around the city.

What food did you enjoyed the most?
I simply adore chocolates and sweets, so I really enjoyed the great variety of cookies, chocolates, gummies and cinnamon rolls, gigantic ice creams filled with chocolate, marshmallows and of course double chocolate donuts.

Versión en Español

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