‘Study abroad taught me how to be an adult'
“Studying in an entirely different country removes any tethers you have to immaturity,” says Maggie Curtis, who studied in Budapest, Hungary, during the spring of 2016.
Maggie Curtis ’17 came back from studying abroad during the spring 2016 semester with 12 credits to count toward her computer science major.
And a whole lot more.
“From learning about an entirely new culture as well as other cultures in different countries, to mastering how to navigate cities, study abroad taught me how to be an adult,” says Curtis, who attended the Aquincum Institute of Technology in Budapest. “While studying in college changes you and allows you to grow as a person, studying in an entirely different country removes any tethers you have to immaturity.
“You have to be smart, open-minded, and strong-willed to be separated from the world you know for nearly half a year. There isn't anything else like exploring the world and I am so glad I took the opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone.”
Curtis, who is also majoring in English, said she received “plenty of support” from the staff in the computer science department and the University’s study abroad office in planning her semester abroad.
“AIT is a new program for Rochester, so Marty Guenther (undergraduate coordinator in computer science) was very supportive for students who wished to study there.”
Curtis said she did not receive any extra financial support other than what she already receives in grants, scholarships, and loans for attending the University of Rochester. “It was actually much less expensive to go abroad than to attend a semester in Rochester,” she said. “I could have applied to scholarships, but I spent the summer saving money from my job so I was financially stable enough to support myself.”
BAGázs was a particularly memorable experience for Curtis. The program enables the children of Bag, a poor Roma settlement in the countryside, to spend a weekend with AIT students, playing games and getting to know each other. AIT staff and program counselors cautioned Curtis and the other students ahead of time that the children might be unruly and get into fights.
“The children arrived and they were wonderful,” Curtis said. “They had a light in their eyes and an appreciation for this one weekend in which they could eat as much as they wanted and they didn't have to worry about anything.”
The first night the children requested Justin Bieber songs and one girl played songs on her ukulele. “We all sang,” Curtis said. “When they were getting on their buses to go home at the end of the weekend, some of the children cried and hugged us goodbye. That weekend changed my perspective on life. It was unbelievably rewarding.”
Maggie Curtis leaps from a cliff into the Adriatic Sea at Pula, Croatia, a city known for its ancient Roman structures.