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International Experience Offers Students a Different Worldview

With more than 2,800 Longhorns traveling to more than 80 countries each year, UT Austin ranks #2 in the U.S. for the most students studying abroad. See beautiful images from students’ journeys.

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This story is part of our “Preparing Leaders” series, which explores how students are learning valuable leadership lessons.

We live by the belief that what starts here changes the world, and Longhorns prove that every day. But the world also changes us.

With more than 2,800 Longhorns traveling to more than 80 countries each year, The University of Texas at Austin now ranks second in the nation for the most students studying abroad, according to the Institute of International Education’s latest annual report.

Studying abroad enriches academics and transforms students’ lives by giving them the opportunity to explore the world and interact with different cultures. The top 10 most popular Longhorn destinations include Spain, United Kingdom, France, China, Brazil, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, South Africa, Australia and Mexico. Other Longhorns seek out unique destinations like Zambia, Yemen, Armenia, Nepal, East Timor and Serbia.

Longhorns are everywhere, and the International Office is committed to increasing access to international education to students, especially underrepresented groups. In 2014, UT Austin was recognized by NAFSA for innovation in study abroad programming that increases access to first-generation college students.

In addition to sending off Longhorns across the world, UT Austin also welcomes a large diverse population of international students, ranking in the top 25 for the international student enrollment with more than 6,000 students, scholarsand researchers from more than 120 countries. The largest proportion of international students come from China, Korea, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada, Iran, France, Australia and Turkey.

[Learn more about UT’s study abroad programs at the study abroad fair on Jan. 28.]

The many ways in which the world impacts us is chronicled in stories by international students and about students who have been abroad. The images below depict these unique and rich experiences through the lenses of Longhorns throughout the world.

Highlands of Scotland


The Highlands of Scotland (Photo: Blake Lueder)

“I had the opportunity of interacting with people I never would have met otherwise, both from UT and from other countries. I gained a new understanding of just how different every single country really is. For instance, I never thought the United Kingdom was that different from the U.S. culturally, but I was shocked when I discovered how different we can be,” says business honors junior, Blake Lueder.

Namche Bazaar in Nepal


Namche Bazaar, Nepal (Photo: Mark Bowers)

“This photo was taken during a three-week trek through the Khumbu region in Nepal on my way to base camp at Mount Everest. It was the beginning of an amazing opportunity my wife and I had to travel Southeast Asia, and the experience gave us an enriched understanding of life and how we are all connected in way or another,” says Mark Bowers, a staff member in the International Office. “Working at the IO has allowed me to interact with students who aspire towards this experience as well, and I enjoy helping them discover something that will possibly transform their future.”

Interlaken Switzerland


Interlaken, Switzerland (Photo: Saurabh Thakur)

“Switzerland is full of breathtaking countryside and enchanting summer landscapes,” says Saurabh Thakur, MBA ’13. “There is so much more about all of us, which we can only realize by traveling and meeting other people.”

Cinque Terre Italy


Vernazza, Clinque Terre, Italy (Photo: Katy Schaffer)

“Studying abroad enhanced my plans for the future because it opened my eyes to the rest of the world. Living in another city, interacting with different people, eating new foods all of that made me realize I wanted to travel the world, to experience newness, for the rest of my life. I plan to be an international freelance photographer after I graduate,” says photojournalism senior, Katy Schaffer.



Jerusalem, Israel (Photo: Marisa Elms)

“Studying abroad brought my major to life,” says religious studies and biochemistry senior, Marisa Elms. “While in Israel, I had the chance to visit the places, meet the people and participate in the religious events that I study in class. These experiences ignited my passion for scholarly research and affirmed my devotion to increasing religious understanding through teaching.”



Berlin, Germany (Photo: Daniel Wang)

“Studying abroad through the Normandy Scholars Program deepened my understanding of the human condition,” says biology and Plan II honors senior, Daniel Wang. “Having studied World War II during the spring [2014] semester, I explored London, Normandy, Berlin and Warsaw with the understanding that these places had seen far worse days. These cities each possessed a unique, vitalizing energy that contrasted sharply with the scenes depicted by the pictures, films and documents I studied, which all underscored the ubiquity of human suffering during the War. As for its effect on my future goals, studying abroad gave me the confidence that I would be able to relate to patients of any cultural background. Furthermore, I want to ensure that my medical practice serves all types of people equally.”

Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania


Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (Photo: Karina Pieratt)

“Participating in Projects for Underserved Communities undoubtedly changed my life. Not only did it allow me to do hands on engineering work internationally, broadened my horizons and enhanced my education, but this experience was so enriching and one that I will always look back on fondly. Because of this experience I plan to applying my engineering knowledge through Engineers Without Borders once I graduate,” says mechanical engineering senior, Karina Pieratt.



Istanbul, Turkey (Photo: Selma Chang)

“As I was observing this majestic sunset, my curiosity was awaken. How many wonders are out there waiting for me to discover? Infinite amount, and therefore I decided to study the world to better understand it, and embrace all its beauty.” says international relations and global studies junior, Selma Chang.

Shangri-La Yunnan China


Shangri-La, Yunnan, China (Photo: Samin Huque)

“As a management information systems major it was awesome to be able to participate in a hackathon while I was studying abroad in Hong Kong. My teammates included a previous investment banker and students from mainland China, India and Finland,” says management informations systems senior Samin Huque. “There is something unifying seeing rural kids from a completely different part of the world play the same sports as back home. Seeing them play with the mountains, Tibetan prayer flags and architecture behind them is what is really captivating.”

Schwangau Germany


Schwangau, Germany (Photo: Shane Kok)

“Studying abroad really taught me a lot outside of the classroom. I became more independent, started living life more fully and learned to appreciate everything more. I matured as a person and had an amazing experience. I also made a group of best friends that I share unforgettable adventures with. Always live life happy and make memories along the way,” says business honors junior Shane Kok.

New Delhi India at Diwali


New Delhi, India (Photo: Pulkit Gupta)

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at UT so far, with lots to do and warm people who make me feel welcome. This picture was taken during Diwali last year I cherish it, because it is a memory of spending the festival with my family, and I will not be able to do that again for a while.” says computer science graduate student Pulkit Gupta.



Prague, Czech Republic (Photo: Cathryn Walker)

“Studying photojournalism in Prague not only provided me with a unique and advanced portfolio, but I also learned how to find beauty in the most unexpected places. Castles and waterfront views are beautiful, but there’s something very alluring and authentic about capturing locals going about their everyday, vibrant lives,” says Cathryn Walker, B.J. ’14.

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As one of the nation’s leading public universities, The University of Texas at Austin prepares its students to become competent global citizens. The International Office advances the critical priorities of the University by creating access to international and cultural exchange. As the university’s home for Study Abroad, International Student and Scholar ServicesEnglish as a Second Language instructionGlobal Risk and Safety and Global Initiatives, the International Office provides opportunities to learn about the world through education.