Congratulations to Scout Osborne, who received a Gilman Scholarship to help fund his study abroad program in Puebla, Mexico! Learn more about Scout's experience below.

 

Why did you want to study abroad? What led you to your program?

  • I have always had a life goal to be fluent in at least one language besides English. I chose to study Spanish for a million different reasons and it made sense for me to major in it. Studying abroad has always appealed to me as a way to experience new things and to improve my Spanish. I chose to study in Mexico because I have family history in Mexico from my mom’s side of the family.
  • I chose the IE3 Global program at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico (UDLAP) because it fit the best into my hopes for a study abroad experience. It fit into my undergraduate degree plan and it fit my budget, since I am an out-of-state student. Puebla de Zaragoza, and San Andrés Cholula more specifically, is an amazing place to live. There are always things going on and its location is perfect to explore more of the country- it’s just a bus ride to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Cuernavaca, Querétaro, and more.

 

What was the Gilman Scholarship application process like? What advice would you give to future applicants?

  • The Gilman Scholarship application was fairly straightforward, albeit slightly more intense than some other scholarships. I have applied to many scholarships in the past (upwards of 80 at this point) and the essay questions were similar to standard study abroad scholarship applications. This application was heavy with outside support (from the Study Abroad Advisor and the Financial Aid Advisor), but I think that made me more motivated to apply.
  • The advice I would give to future applicants is to apply early and to apply to other scholarships. Essay writing is a skill that we can always improve on. If you apply to other scholarships, you can get a better feel for how you can best tell your story. When the deadline comes around, you can be more clear in your goals and your purpose. Useful when writing a statement of purpose!

 

How did you prepare to go abroad? What have you been up to so far?

  • Logistically, I prepared by getting my passport, leaving my job at the time, and picking up prescriptions that would be difficult to access in Mexico. I also applied to a couple study abroad scholarships, like the Gilman Scholarship.
  • In Mexico so far, I have been going to my classes during the week and exploring during the weekends. Everything seems to work differently here: how professors run their classes, how homework is assigned, how much is online and how much isn’t, the sheer amount of paperwork, the grading system, etc. It takes some getting used to, for sure!
  • But like I said about Puebla’s location, it is very easy to go to new places and try new things. Besides San Pedro and San Andrés Cholula, I have visited Puebla, Mexico City, Oaxaca City, and Cuernavaca so far. I hover around tourist territory, but I have enough experience with Mexico to ask for “agua de garrafón” instead of just “agua” to avoid the bottled water charge at a restaurant. It’s the little things.

 

Is there anything you wish you had known before you left?

  • I wish I had taken the research on the “Four Stages of Culture Shock” more seriously. It’s quite accurate to my life here! There really is a frustration stage! It helped me to overcome this barrier when I realized that my feelings were completely normal. As someone who has always been very “on top of things,” it can be difficult to feel stupid. Multiple times a day. Many, many times a day.

 

What will you be up to after you return?

  • I have applied to several internships for summer research in biochemistry, so I hope to secure one of those for my return to the States. When Fall term starts, I will return to Corvallis and focus on biochemistry (since my Spanish major will be just about done).

 

What does this opportunity mean to you?

  • My time in Mexico has been an overwhelmingly positive experience so far. I had several fears before coming here, but they are all working out smoothly. For example, I am a mostly introverted person, so I worried that it would be difficult to make friends and go places. But it’s honestly been a breeze. I was instantly connected to other international students and it’s been a blast to experience Mexico with them. I have never made friends easier than I have here.
  • To me, this opportunity means self-determination. I can choose who I am and what I do. I chose to study Spanish, so that means I’m going to speak it whenever and wherever possible. I can choose to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Even if I look incredibly stupid, I’ll learn something for next time. I have been able to let go of my pride, my introversion, and my hesitation. At least, temporarily. I hope these changes will stick with me even after leaving Mexico.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

  • I am queer and transgender so that was a big worry for me going in. This may not be the case for everyone, but my expectations have been blown out of the water. Some examples that have stood out at me: there are gender neutral bathrooms on campus (several of them, in various buildings), there was a Valentine’s Day event which included a drag show and an LGBTQ-focused tent, and my roommates have been incredibly accepting and kind to me.
  • About this last point, I am currently rooming with all male, Mexican students (since I’m a transgender man). But, I don’t pass very well. I simply look too feminine. I was so worried about what my roommates would think. Would university housing kick me out because I have boobs?? After just a day of living with them, however, one of my roommates told me, “You know, we are always here for you. Whatever you need, you can always ask us for help.” I could have cried! They have been so, so kind.

 

For more information about the Gilman Scholarship, visit their website. The Gilman Scholarship is administered at Oregon State University through LeAnn Adam, OSU Prestigious Scholarships Coordinator. For more information about applying for Gilman or other national and international scholarships and fellowships, please contact LeAnn at leann.adam@oregonstate.edu  and visit the Prestigious Scholarships website.