CGE Student Spotlight: Paula Tolton
Global Exchanges Student
Bachelor's in International Affairs
Paula Tolton, international affairs major, completed her Global Exchange at National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, Taiwan (S.A.R. China) during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Tolton said she originally chose to participate in a Global Exchange because she wanted to improve her Chinese. “Being immersed in both the language and the culture is the only way to become fluent. As an International Affairs major, an exchange also allowed me to become acquainted with the region in which I plan to work in the future,” she said.
As an exchange student, Tolton was able to expand upon her already broad world view. “I’ve lived overseas for half my life, but always with the help of my parents. This experience gave me the wakeup call I needed to be able to do it on my own,” she said. Other things she experienced that helped her grow as a person included, “having to navigate life in a foreign country where English is not the official language, learning to roll with the punches and disregard my feelings of shyness when speaking with strangers,” she said.
Global Exchanges also allowed her the opportunity to explore her future career path. “This experience has further solidified my plans to work in this region post-graduation. I now plan to return to Taiwan to continue improving my Chinese by attending a language school,” Tolton said. It was not always so clear for her though. “Even after three semesters of Chinese, at first, I was way too shy to speak with native speakers. After going abroad, I am now comfortable doing presentations fully in Chinese,” she said. Through effort and determination, she was able to produce a plan for her future.
Global Exchanges is an exciting and culturally immersive opportunity for FSU undergraduates to live, learn, and explore another culture as an exchange student at a partner university. Students who participate in the program can pay FSU tuition, take classes toward their major earning FSU credit, and use their financial aid. Choose from 45+ partner universities worldwide and stay abroad for 1-2 semesters at a time.
“If you are currently learning a language, going abroad for an exchange will do more for your language skills than learning in a classroom. The intensive Chinese program at National Cheng Chi University was the most enriching part of my program,” she said.
Furthermore, Tolton said you can gain a gripping understanding of the culture around you through a Global Exchange. “Taiwan’s history allows you to gain a wider perspective between the nations in this region (China, Japan, and Korea). If you are a Political Science or International Affairs major, classes at National Cheng Chi University will help challenge your biases and widen your scope,” she said.
FSU’s Global Exchange program can help you gain international experience and connections that will advance your future career and worldview. Applications are now open for the spring 2022 semester; the deadline to apply is October 1.
If you've been on a Global Exchange and would like to share your experience with the FSU community, fill out this 20-minute questionnaire and prepare to upload photos from your exchange.