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Study Abroad

Memorable miscue in Madrid spurred Shurouq Hijazi


Shurouq Hijaze plays Frisbee with fellow ECE student Seth Schober ’16 in Caceres, Spain.

Students often say the best thing about studying abroad is being out of your comfort zone – and learning to cope in spite of that.

An example of that occurred when Shurouq Hijazi ’16 studied abroad in Madrid during the Spring of 2015.

The electrical and computer engineering major arrived knowing only a couple of words of the language.  Her first exam was in English, but the sheet she was given to write her answers on was in Spanish. At least the word next to one of the blanks seemed obvious enough. “Asignatura.” She filled in her signature – and drew a hearty laugh from her professor.

“Asignatura” means subject or class!

“I’m sure that wasn’t the only wrong answer on that sheet but that incident was definitely a memorable one and it is what got me determined to learn the language as fast as I could! “

“Being out of your comfort zone and being open to adjusting to a new lifestyle and a totally different educational system is challenging and rewarding at the same time,” she added. “The sense of achievement and long-lasting relationships you make abroad are definitely worthwhile.”

In addition to a Spanish language course, Shurouq was able to complete three high-level ECE classes that she would normally have taken here. Once the approvals for those courses were in place, the application process was “a piece of cake,” she said.

Her financial aid package was adjusted to help meet her costs, and she also received two relatively small but helpful grants from the IES study abroad program.

“A lot of fun,” is how she describes her semester abroad.  “The appreciation of a different culture widens your horizon dramatically,” she said, adding,  “no matter what happens you’ll at least come back with a much better sense of direction. You’ll probably become a pro at using real maps rather than GPS, because unlimited data is not available in many countries.”


Shurouq Hijazi at Buen Retiro Park in Madrid.

You can do it! Think engineers can’t study abroad? Think again. With the flexible Rochester curriculum and specially selected overseas partnerships, Hajim students have a world of opportunities available. We’ve identified more than 200 equivalent courses that apply toward your Rochester degree at 23 universities in 14 countries. We offer scholarships to help you cover travel costs. You'll see the world, gain a global perspective, and build your resume—all before graduating. Questions? Contact Rohan Palma, our study abroad adviser, at

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