Hola! My name is Kelley Pham and I am a freshman that is currently double majoring in Finance and Marketing. I am a Tuscaloosa native (#Be1Pat) and am looking forward to sharing my Panama study abroad stories with you all!

As a child, I had always dreamed of studying abroad in college because I love immersing myself in new and different cultures while simultaneously learning all about it. My thoughts going into college were that I my first study abroad might be in the summer to avoid getting behind on my studies but then this opportunity came up. I had heard about this program last semester through email and word of mouth but the main contributor was Sam(antha Young) coming into my GBA-146 class to talk about the opportunity. The program attracted me because of the convenient dates, price of the trip (practically free!), and the opportunity to hone in on my soft skills and learn new ones like cultural communication. I took that first leap to apply and interview and got in! I was overjoyed at the fact that I as a freshman have gotten the opportunity to study abroad so early on in my collegiate career.

To prepare for this trip I first messaged my high school Spanish teacher because last year she had actually gone to Panama! I seeked her advice and hit up Google to see what were the fun places to eat and hangout at. In addition my cohort and I researched any cultural nuances that we had to be aware of and asked questions to our faculty about what is and is not appropriate to do and wear in Panama. As for for the physical preparation a few members of our cohort and I went on a cute shopping trip which included hitting up Target, Midtown (and stopping by for a bite at Fuku Ramen), TJ Maxx, The University Mall, and finally Men’s Warehouse! It was incredibly fun as it not only served as a practical productive day of buying items to bring but also served as bonding moment for us as we got to know each other better outside of the classroom.

This predeparture preparation will hopefully help us reduce the culture shock and spend more time thinking about important things. Doing business and having fun! #BamaMeansBusiness