Known as niakoreaa on Instagram, Nia Massey, a junior Mathematics student at Spelman College says studying abroad helped her become more open to different cultures. The DC native got her passport in seventh grade for two middle school trips to Costa Rica and Canada, her first experiences abroad.
While at Spelman, she traveled to two countries: South Korea and Cuba. Because her mom is Korean, Nia wanted to explore South Korea firsthand. Through a two-week program with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Nia traveled with other Spelman students to take culture and language classes in Seoul, South Korea. Staying in a contemporary hotel, Nia recounts the modernization and technology of Seoul.
“People were so modern and not as social,” said Nia. “People would bump into each other on their phones as they were walking.”
Though nervous to go abroad, Nia felt at home in Korea from growing up with her Korean mother. Her favorite food in Korea was a southern classic with a sweet twist: Chikin, Korean fried chicken.
In Havana, Cuba, Nia experienced culture shock from Cuba’s modest and social culture. Through an 10-day education program at Spelman, Nia experienced Cuba through university visits with classroom/lecture experiences, playing with village kids, and visits to museums, music and movie festivals, and beaches.
“Cuban people are very social,” said Nia. “People made the best out of poverty and enjoyed life.”
Nia’s parents encouraged her to study abroad because they thought college would be the best time to study abroad with minimal responsibility and a cheaper price tag. Nia paid for her international experiences through a combination of scholarships and GoFundMe fundraising campaigns.
She encourages other HBCU students to study abroad in college, especially for a short-term, if they cannot do a full semester.
“When you are abroad, be open to different cultures,” said Nia. “Do it and enjoy it!”