Hello! I am Neil Garza Hernandez and I major in Biology, where I hope to enter the field of research. I am from Charlotte in North Carolina, but my family originates from Mexico. I like to try various things, some of which I really enjoy such as rock climbing and meeting new people from various backgrounds! I would be excited to speak to you too about getting started with studying abroad!

Where did you study abroad?

Berlin, Germany for 4 weeks through a faculty-led program.

What is Your Favorite Memory from Your Time Abroad?

In a bicycling excursion with other ECU students, we crossed through a park. The park was a beautifully large and nearly flat landscape of grass. The park allowed me to see the people of Berlin leisurely enjoying their lives, whether it be by setting a tent, grilling, sunbathing with a towel on the floor, or playing a game of basketball. The feeling of an active yet relaxed space in an otherwise busy foreign city was something great that I can barely put into words. Small little moments like these make me greatly appreciate the spaces that I am in.

How Has Studying Abroad Helped Your Personal and Professional Life?

Through my personal life, I often encounter people from foreign countries, whether it is in-person or online. Though they may not be German, the cultural awareness that I have gained by visiting the country has allowed me to change my perspective to better understand such people. Sometimes I may meet an international student, and I can phrase myself more appropriately so they may understand. In terms of my professional life, I am still relatively early in my career as a sophomore. Nonetheless, I am now more capable of adapting myself to new environments should there be a conference in another country. Additionally, since I am considering learning more German, I may be able to read German scientific articles that have not yet been translated to English so that I can utilize it for my research.

What Advice Can You Offer to Students Interested in Studying Abroad?

Studying abroad can seem like a distant and difficult objective to reach, which can be discouraging to some. However, the process of applying and eventually boarding your plane is gradual. You will meet with various people as you continue to reach your goal, such as global ambassadors, your academic advisor, the study abroad financial advisor, and even faculty. You may encounter roadblocks along the way, and I would highly recommend you reach out to someone you believe may best handle the situation (And in case if they happen to not be most suitable, I’m sure they can forward you to the correct people!)

Do You Have Any Plans or Ideas to Travel Abroad Again?

I do hope to travel again! As a biology major, I may not be able to dedicate fall or spring semesters to studying abroad, but I can find opportunities to study abroad through spring breaks or during the summer! I do hope to better my German, but I also want to learn many other languages such as Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, and French. This leaves me with various options to choose from, and I am excited to see where I end up in the future!

You can email Neil at to learn more about his experience!