The University of Texas at Austin
  • Jessica Lee traversed the globe to discover her academic niche

    By Jessica Sinn
    Jessica Sinn
    Published: May 20, 2010
    Jessica Lee is receiving a bachelor's degree in Plan II/Russian language and culture from the College of Liberal Arts.Photo: Christina Murrey

    Jessica Lee, a graduating Plan II, Russian language and culture student, always dreamt of making the world a better place, but it took many adventures — from hopping on the Trans-Siberian railway on a whim, to haphazardly taking on a job as a beat reporter for the Moscow Times — for her to discover her niche in life.

    “My experiences abroad really inspired me to work in politics, travel the world and help people in developing countries,” said Lee, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations and someday hopes to work in the diplomatic corps. “When I realized I could pursue all these passions in the Foreign Service, I just knew it was a perfect fit.”

    After her freshman year, the Houston native participated in a study abroad program in Austria and took a four-week detour in Africa to help AIDS victims in remote hospitals. In 2008, she enrolled in a yearlong study abroad program in Moscow, where she lived with a Russian grandmother and learned to speak fluent Russian.

    Driven to help find a cure for AIDS, Lee initially majored in chemistry. But after traversing the globe and connecting with people in underdeveloped countries, she decided to shift her focus to diplomacy.

    Despite the language barriers, sudden detours and various misadventures Lee had encountered on her overseas excursions, she said the experiences helped her discover a wealth of opportunities for changing the world outside of a lab.

    “The great thing about studying abroad is that you get to push your comfort zones and learn more about yourself,” Lee said. “How are you going to know what you’re going to do when you don’t know who you are now?”

    • Quote 2
      Aurelija said on May 23, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.
      “How are you going to know what you’re going to do when you don’t know who you are now?” ,- that's a good question!
    • Quote 2
      MariaAbroad said on May 21, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
      I completely agree with Jessica! Studying abroad is a life-changing experience and there is IMHO no better way to learn who you are and what your goals are. From my personal experience, I can also say that studying abroad helps you a lot, even later in life. You learn to adapt to new situations and challenges more quickly, are more confident and independent. I have never met a single student that has any regrets about his or her study abroad adventure!
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