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Tumi Akin-Sodipo's two winter terms in Singapore and Taiwan

Program: UMD-Winter: Singapore and Taiwan (BMGT)
Term: Winterterm 2020
Major: Public Health Science

This study abroad program gave me a newfound love and appreciation for other cultures that are entirely different from mine. 

The language barrier in Taiwan taught me how to be respectful of other people and their spaces. It also built a level of confidence that made me feel comfortable in a foreign environment. I got to meet professionals that were outside my career goals and focus while still networking and trying to build a connection between my major (public health) and the fintech industry. The world is a beautiful place and I am glad I got to explore it with other UMD students.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

My advice to everyone is 'just be yourself'. As a woman of color, specifically African American, I found that I was the only person of color in both Singapore and Taiwan. Taiwan was a little different because it wasn't as diverse as Singapore was. A lot of people were fascinated by my braids but I went with such expectation. This shouldn't discourage you from going because studying abroad is one of the best things I have ever done. Do your research before you go so you are familiar with the dynamics of each country and then go and have fun!

My most memorable experience was experiencing the different food places in Taiwan's popular night markets. 

Night markets are extremely popular in Taiwan and they consist of different local stores and food places. I got to haggle when I was there and it felt as though I had saved a lot of money. It was great being able to connect with the locals in their community. They made me feel among as a foreigner and they never hesitated to offer me help. We somehow managed to pull off a deal with little to no English and I thought that was amazing. I will never forget that experience.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

Study abroad is possible for ALL MAJORS. It is possible for you to dedicate a semester to a study abroad program, if not, a winter/summer program. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone should take advantage of it while you can. You learn a lot about yourself while exploring foreign places.

The hardest part about studying abroad was the food. 

I always knew I was picky but I didn't [realize how] picky until I went abroad. It was really hard for me because 9 times out of 10, I didn't like the food but there is definitely an option for everyone whether it is vegan, vegetarian,pescatarian or many more. You just have to look for what you want, and you'll find it. I found what I liked and I stuck with it. I also decided to be open-minded, which allowed me to try new things. I have a new found love for Xing Fu Tang's Brown Sugar Boba Milk !!

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