Vindya Jeyaretnam

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

Heinz Programming Area:
Children, Youth, and Families
International Experience Summary:

Studying abroad has further enhanced my ability to interact with people of different origins, develop a sense of being sensitive to the values of others, understand and appreciate one’s own cultural values and biases.  I was able to work with not only people from a different country but also students from different states.  It did not take long to realize that people even from the same country, but different location, had very different views and perceptions. From this I learned to better communicate with people and learn effectively how to lead a group of students.  I learned when to take charge or when I should just step back and listen to others who are more knowledgeable in a certain area. Further, I feel that this program has broadened my knowledge on international affairs such as forms of government, effect of globalization, health care practices and Australian heritage. I saw the difference in healthcare plans, retirement plans, and other daily living tasks. This allowed me to be more aware and compare other countries policies to the United States. In the near future, I would like to work with International groups and travel to countries in medical need. I need to be aware of other cultures lifestyles in order to effectively help people.  Living with a host family in Fiji, I was able to experience firsthand the communication and custom barriers between two cultures. When the cultures started to clash, I had the chance to talk with the Fijian host and learn about their culture without allowing too many misunderstandings to occur.  This proved a challenge of sorts when it came to my gender.  Fijian women do not experience the same amount of rights that we do in America.  Therefore we had to be extremely careful we did not send the wrong message by moving the wrong way or wearing the wrong clothes.  Studying abroad gave me a chance to see the world not through a tourist eye but as a “citizen” of the country. We were not treated special because were Americans and we able to see things most tourists would not have been able to see let alone dream of doing.