Cultural Immersion Makes an Impression on Modesty Obasohan ’20

Modesty Obasohan ’20, a Park Scholar majoring in genetics and minoring in Spanish, always knew she wanted to study abroad. Obasohan realized this goal by enrolling in NC State’s study abroad program at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) in Cholula, Mexico in fall 2018. 

Latin American culture and the low cost of living drew Obasohan to the program in Mexico. “One of my biggest goals in college is to work towards fluency in Spanish, both for my future career in medicine and as a personal interest. I wanted to go to a place that would challenge me to improve these skills and give me the opportunity to learn more about Latin American culture.” 

During the program, Obasohan improved her Spanish speaking skills while fully immersing herself in Mexican culture. A typical day included class, walking to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, going to the gym, getting tacos al pastor (tacos made with spit-grilled pork) at one of the many restaurants near her university, and taking an Uber to the movie theater, before returning home to complete assignments. 

Not only was did she experience another culture, but Obasohan learned things about her own through studying abroad. “I took a sustainability course and was surprised to find that most of the content centered around U.S. consumption habits. I think we owe it to the world to be more conscious about our emissions and waste.” She also found the similarities between her classes at UDLAP and NC State intriguing. “The classes were pretty similar in terms of schedule, frequency of assignments, and lecture format. I did notice more discussion in many of the classes at UDLAP.”

While she thoroughly enjoyed her time in Mexico, she mentioned one shortcoming. “It was a private university and many students had several years of English before attending. I almost wish fewer people spoke English so that I could practice more!” 

Obasohan credited her study abroad experience with helping propel her toward her future goals. “I speak Spanish much better now and have already been able to use those skills volunteering in the Open Door Clinic at the Urban Ministries of Wake County and in other personal travel. I hope to become extremely advanced by the time I’m a practicing doctor, and five months abroad definitely helped.” 

To any students considering study abroad, she encourages them to go for it. “Be open to less traditional programs and locations. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support system at NC State or back home if you have any hiccups adjusting abroad with your identities.”