Student Spotlight: Anna Bernatt & Rylan Eichem

Anna Bernatt, a senior majoring in Chinese and Japanese, is participating in a Global Exchange program in Taiwan for the 2023-24 academic year, and Rylan Eichem, a junior majoring in International Affairs, is there for the Fall 2023 semester. Through the FSU Global Exchange Program, both Anna and Rylan are attending the National Chengchi University in Taipei City, Taiwan. During their time in Taiwan, both students have had culturally enriching learning opportunities.

Studying Chinese and Japanese, Anna felt going to Taiwan was the best way to understand her major fully and to experience the cultures that she reads about in textbooks every day. With that being her original intention behind studying internationally, she also found much more in her travels. “In addition to enhancing my academic journey, I felt that studying on an exchange program would help me grow as a person; become more independent and more understanding as a global citizen,” said Anna. Similarly, Rylan had his reasons for participating in a Global Exchange program based on his major being International Affairs. He thought having this international experience would make him more well-rounded as a student, and in his future career.

Many students who choose to participate in a Global Exchange end up coming back with life-changing experiences that shape them as a person during their young adult life. Anna and Rylan are no different, both crediting this journey with changing how they view the world and carry themselves through life now. “This experience has given me such a unique perspective on what a part of the world, relatively unknown to average Americans, is really like. My first month here in Taiwan taught me more about the intricacies of their culture, way of life, and customs more than years of learning about it through a book,” said Rylan. For Anna, her travels taught her that respecting and immersing yourself in a foreign culture does not mean forsaking your individuality and said, “I believe this experience has allowed me to see life from a multitude of different perspectives and reevaluate the priorities in my life. Studying abroad has certainly been a life-changing experience and has offered me many opportunities to learn and grow. In whatever career path I choose, I hope that I can continue to learn from foreign cultures and use these experiences to give something back and help cultivate better relationships on a global scale.”

When asked what she would say to another FSU student considering this program, Anna responded by saying, “As someone who has had the privilege of studying internationally twice in their college career, I must say that the buzzwords such as ‘life-changing’ and ‘once-in-a-lifetime' are truly not just buzzwords. I have never before been in an environment that allows you to discover so much – about a new culture and about yourself.” From the actual classes to weekend trips to neighboring towns and markets, this Global Exchange program is a well-rounded experience for anyone with hopes to learn more about other cultures.

FSU’s Global Exchanges programs have helped students follow their passions and experience monumental events through their travels, all while being able to pursue one's academics. When Ryan was asked if he would recommend other students participating in a Global Exchange he said, “Go for it. I love living in Tallahassee and being a few minutes away from my closest friends but when else am I going to get an experience like this to study in another country for the same price as studying in Tallahassee.” He then went on to say, “In 20 years I’m going to tell my kids how I booked a spontaneous plane ticket to Bali and learned Chinese by befriending a shop owner in Taipei.” 

By participating in a Global Exchange program, Anna and Rylan enhanced their academic experience by immersing themselves in another culture and learning another language and will be better prepared to enter a multicultural workforce in today’s global society.