Nicolás Rodriguez graduated Austin College in 2019. He was a double major in Political Science and Southwestern and Mexican Studies and is now a 1L at Columbia Law School. Read about his JanTerm experience below.
Which international JanTerm(s) did you participate in?
I went on the Imperial Cultures and Empires with Professor Hunt Tooley during January 2019. We traveled to Tunisia, Cyprus, Northern Cyprus, (technically Romania since we traveled to the Romanian Embassy in Tunisia) and Italy.
What motivated you to take an international JanTerm course?
I had not studied abroad while at Austin College and I wanted the opportunity to explore the world with my friends. It was one of the best decisions I made while at Austin College. My only regret from my time at Austin College is that I did not study abroad for a semester. If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I would say two things. First, eat more salads. Second, I would tell myself to take advantage of studying abroad for a semester because it is an invaluable experience that will stay with you the rest of your life. It exposes you to different cultures, ideas, religions, and ways of understanding the world we live in.
Do you have a favorite memory from your JanTerm(s)?
There really are so many that is difficult to narrow it down to just one. I will say that exploring Rome and going to places like the Vatican, the colosseum, and indulging in all of the foods and wine was a great highlight of my time in Italy.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during JanTerm?
The biggest challenge I faced with my friends was splitting the bill at the end of a meal. They do not split checks in Europe the way we do here in the U.S. My job was to be the accountant and make sure that we had adequately paid the bill each time and that everyone had contributed their share. For some reason, we always had a little extra, so we just left that as a tip, which confused the waiter because a tip is often not expected in Italy.
Has your international experience impacted you in your professional and/or personal life after leaving AC? How so?
Personally, I really do appreciate the memories I forged with my friends during JanTerm. I have pictures from our adventures up on my wall and I find myself continually looking upon them with fondness whenever I need a pick me up after a long day.
Professionally and from a purely practical perspective, it is a great talking point to have in my back pocket. We went to a variety of locations and experienced so many things and I have brought up my experience in various settings as a way of creating conversation and building rapport with people I may be interacting with. While visiting law schools, I encountered an administrator wearing a necklace made of Venetian glass. We had a pleasant discussion about how she had acquired the necklace and about travel in general. The reason I knew it was Venetian glass was because I had traveled to Venice, I had met Venetian glass makers, and purchased jewelry for my mother, grandmother and aunt. That conversation would not have been possible without my experience from JanTerm.
What do you want current AC students to know about international JanTerm?
You owe it to yourself to go on an international JanTerm if you do not intend to study abroad for a semester. It really is an experience every student should be exposed to during their undergraduate studies. Austin College makes it very accessible. I have a lot of friends from other institutions and when I describe how many countries I visited, how long I was in those countries, and how much I paid for the experience, they really are shocked at how affordable it was. Austin College has scholarships that students can apply for and significantly cut down the cost of attending a JanTerm. I personally benefitted from a scholarship and I encourage AC students to do the same.
Ready for your own JanTerm adventure? Apply now for the JanTerm Scholarship and help fund your next travel course!