Much has been written about the benefits of studying abroad—“It will change your life” is the common refrain—but only recently have experts confirmed its effect on one’s self-confidence, world-view, and career path.
Nikkole Mojica ’15, a dual major in international relations and political science at Syracuse University, is proof of the long-term impact of study abroad. From her first semester at Syracuse, where she was a Discovery Florence student, to her current stay in Istanbul, Turkey (where she is celebrating graduation with her mother), the University senior has a sophisticated way of looking at the world. Not only has Mojica become more aware of other countries’ cultures, as well as their political and economic systems, but she also has learned more about her own values. This has made for some trenchant learning opportunities in both the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Ahmed Abdel Meguid, an assistant professor of religion, helped Mojica form an interest with the Middle East. “Nikkole’s deep interest in other cultures is refreshing,” says Meguid, whose expertise extends to Islamic philosophy and theology. “Her desire to completely understand religion is evident in the great work [that] she produces in class. She will be a great ambassador for other cultures.”
Says Mojica: “[Meguid’s] writing assignments were complex, yet practical and left room for creativity and perspective.”
Already, Mojica’s wanderlust has taken her all over Europe. In the past three years, she has studied abroad five times, visiting seven different countries. It has enabled her to not only become fluent in Italian, but also indulge her interest in poetry and video art.
The daughter of a Syracuse alumna, Mojica was born and raised in New York City. When she wasn’t going to high school, Mojica could be found working part-time at an ice cream shop and performing poetry in small, local venues. These experiences eventually led to a managerial position at People’s Place, a coffee shop in Hendricks Chapel, and an internship at Sleeve a Message, where she helped establish branding practices for the coffee shop (People’s Place) providing a medium for clubs and organizations on campus to advertise.
These kinds of activities, Mojica says, keep her grounded. “I feel a sense of community when I’m in another city and see an Otto shirt or a bright orange bumper sticker,” says Mojica, who plans to attend graduate school at the University for a masters in public diplomacy. “It makes me feel connected to Syracuse, which is now my home.”