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Moving Past Your Comfort Zone

Anna Stands With Her Yes Abroad Indian Host Family

By Anna M., YES Abroad 2017-18, India from Painted Post, NY

Anna became interested in studying abroad after a two-week cultural travel program to England and France in 5th grade. This experience inspired her to consider studying abroad in the future. She discovered YES Abroad through Facebook and immediately applied! “Ultimately, I clicked ‘no country preference’ when applying to YES Abroad, because I was okay with going anywhere,” said Anna. Following the application and interview process, Anna was selected for the program to India!

Anna With Her Classmates At Duke Kunshan University In China
Anna With Her Classmates At Duke Kunshan University In China

Anna had no expectations before arriving in India. “I tried to learn as much as I could before I went, but I didn’t have any real expectations, which I think was helpful in the end.” Like any new experience, Anna had to adjust and eventually found her time in India to be quite fun and valuable. She learned many things during her time in India. Firstly, she learned to be more confident in herself, “my YES Abroad year forced me to get out of my shell a little bit, and that’s something that has carried forward throughout the rest of my life” said Anna. Secondly, she found it important to push herself out of her comfort zone. She applied these lessons to her next milestone, college.

The college application process reminded her of applying for YES Abroad – she tried not to build too many expectations and just jumped right in. Unexpectedly, her application to Duke University asked if she was also interested in applying to their Duke Kunshan University campus in China. Emboldened by her year abroad in India, she clicked “yes,” wrote an additional essay, and let Duke decide. Ultimately, she was accepted into Duke Kunshan in China as a dual degree student with Duke University in the U.S. She traveled to Suzhou, China in the fall of 2019 to start her college experience!

Anna With Her Chinese Host Family
Anna with her Chinese host family

While the pandemic cut Anna’s time in China short -- she planned to attend seven semesters at Duke Kunshan in China and one at Duke in the U.S.-- she returned from China with a significant career perspective change. “At Duke Kushan I started working in the One Health Research Laboratory. This experience solidified my love for animals,” said Anna. The One Health Research Laboratory showed Anna that animal health is inherently connected to human and environmental health. Therefore, by helping animals she will be helping other elements of our global health systems as well. Her experiences with YES Abroad in India and with Duke Kushan in China inspired Anna to plan for a future working in a field she is passionate about. “I’ve always been interested in science and YES Abroad helped me connect the two – interacting with people and science simultaneously,” said Anna. Now, Anna is committed to a career as a veterinarian. Anna thanks YES Abroad and Duke Kushan for guiding her toward a career path that aligns with her purpose.