Hispanic Heritage Month Feature: Karen Giorlando

Q&A WITH Karen Giorlando

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Education Abroad is featuring our Hispanic/Latinx study abroad alumni and sharing their stories and experiences with the UNC Charlotte community.

Meet our final student of 2022!

Karen Giorlando

Senior, Finance Major

  1. Why did you choose to study abroad? I chose to study abroad because I know how important it is to learn about the history and culture of countries other than my own. We all share one world and we’re more connected than we think, it just takes us venturing out of our comfort zone to see that. I feel that studying abroad is definitely one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a new country, especially if you’ve never been abroad.
  2. Where did you study abroad and what program? Paris, France. The Spring Break French Civilization in Paris program (a faculty led program led by Professor Jane Houston)
  3. Did your personal identity impact your choice of program and/or study abroad location? If so, how? Yes and no. I’m a very open minded person so I wanted to visit a country that I felt I haven’t been exposed to much and initially I chose to study abroad in Japan, but due to the pandemic that program was cancelled. Thankfully, during high school I took four years of French and I learned to love the language and since Paris was also one of the programs still being offered that is what ultimately impacted my choice in going there.
  4. How would you describe your overall experience abroad? Overall my experience was unforgettable. By the end of the program a lot of us were able to ride the metro to different cities all on our own and we weren’t afraid to ask questions or interact with locals. I gained an immense amount of respect for their history and culture. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back nor hesitate to visit a different city.
  5. Did you experience any challenges connected to your personal identity while abroad? In the beginning, it was challenging not seeing many Hispanic/Latinx and I imagined how it would’ve felt for my parents to migrate to France instead of the U.S. but it also gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of how diverse America is. I am from Argentina but in America you don’t just find people from one other country, in America you can find people from all over the world. This did not however ruin my experience studying abroad, in fact it makes me want to share my experience so that others feel inclined to visit other places as well.
  6. Do you have any advice for other Hispanic/Latinx students considering study abroad? If you’re thinking about it, stop and just do it. You will thank yourself later. Of course you want to make sure you have a budget planned in advance and that you save up so that you can also have fun but don’t think about it twice! These are memories you will cherish forever.
  7. Is there anything else you would like to share? I would like to share that studying abroad isn’t just for rich kids or just for one select group of people, it’s for everyone. No matter where you are from and no matter where you decide to go, you will gain something only visiting abroad can give you.