Thomas Huang

“When I came to UCF as a freshman, less than one percent of American students studied abroad. I switched my major to business, partially because they had a full-year program for studying abroad. In that year, not only do you finish a business minor, but you also get a bachelor’s degree. I graduated from a business school in France with a bachelor’s in business administration. I realized that I couldn’t stop traveling. I was able to get my travel funded through different scholarships with the help of UCF. The French government subsidizes half of your housing, so it’s not as expensive as people think.

After I was in France, I went to China for the Critical Language Scholarship. From China, I went to study in Germany. What’s really cool about Germany is that studying abroad there opens up so many more opportunities than you’d expect. The program made all of the first-year students compete in an entrepreneurship competition. They grouped me with nine random German students to tackle a social problem through entrepreneurship. This was when Germany opened its borders to refugees. My parents were refugees, so this project really hit home. We got to interview the refugees in the community and the stories they have are incredible. These people are doctors, lawyers - they’re not just random people. They don’t want to leave their homes, but they have to. We developed an app to help integrate the German community and refugees. A lot of the conflicts that arose between the people were because they didn’t understand each other. Our app allowed people to swipe on different services. For instance, a German citizen can put up a post to offer a ride to the grocery store to refugees. The refugee can see it and swipe right. People could also offer up their old clothes through this app to help the refugees find clothing. This was the first base to touch upon, getting the Germans and the refugees to meet each other. We also wanted to add services for language classes for refugees to teach Germans their languages and Germans can help refugees speak their language.

After winning first place in this competition, I went to Taiwan for my Boren Scholarship. Studying abroad is important because there’s so much more you learn outside of the classroom. No matter what field you’re in, you’re going to interact with people from all over the world. I just went to Mexico three days ago with people I met from studying abroad in France. I was able to stay and travel throughout Mexico because of some of the relationships I’ve made through studying abroad. Also, because of study abroad, I’ve been to over twenty countries. I wouldn’t be who I am today without studying abroad.”

Check out his travel vlog here