Students Abroad

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Center for International Affairs
Case Western Reserve University
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Global Perspective

Dan Hageman

Dan Hageman is a senior pre-health and biomedical engineering student. He studied abroad in Botswana and Guatemala, and he’s currently preparing for another study abroad experience in Uganda.

Where did you study abroad? How did you choose your programs? I have had the luxury of studying in Gaborone, Botswana, Antigua, Guatemala, and soon Kampala, Uganda! I heard about the ENGR 225B Thermodynamics course through word of mouth by a friend that had done it on the first pilot year of the class. As a biomedical engineering premed, fitting in my required courses is never a walk in the park. An opportunity to take a class over the summer in Africa sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A friend and I started a small club at CWRU initiated by the experience (see Daily article for details).

Having had such a fantastic experience in Botswana the summer after my sophomore year, I HAD to look into other short-term opportunities abroad. It was then through emails guiding me to the study abroad website that I read more about the Guatemala experience. Looking to eventually focus my medical career in the pediatrics area, a class in child welfare seemed like the perfect fit. Not to mention, traveling to Guatemala would really help me practice my Spanish speaking and complement my academic Spanish minor I would be receiving at CWRU.

Having built a connection with Dr. Lacks through the Botswana experience, I heard about the biomedical senior design EBME 380 trip to Uganda in the coming Spring. As a graduating senior, this seemed like a final opportunity that I just could not pass up!

How did classes you took abroad differ from courses offered on campus at CWRU?
It was very nice being able to focus only on one particular class at a time. In Botswana, we had class every day of the week (with a break a few days in between), and the course work was quite intensive. We had 4 exams in a span of 3 weeks. We were able to visit actual watering holes and wells where the various fluid mechanics that we were learning could be applied in theory.

In Guatemala, we were able to meet with a myriad of different organization dedicated to child and women welfare in Antigua and all throughout Guatemala. We even visitors an orphanage where we donated all of the toys, coloring equipments, games, and shampoos/toiletries we collected as a group before we came. We also had one-on-one Spanish lessons every day while we were there, suited towards each individual students levels. It was a great way to fully immerse ourselves in the cultures that we were studying.

How has studying abroad changed your global perspective?
As someone pursuing the medical field, my experiences abroad have allowed me to witness not only how much need there is in various countries, but how that need can vary. In the United States, much of medical science is focused on curing current diseases and disorders, while in more developing countries mere prevention and awareness of such diseases and disorders are what are truly needed.

Who in your life has encouraged you the most to have a global perspective?
My youth group leader throughout my high school years, as I actually took my first trip to Guatemala the summer before my freshman year at CWRU because of him.

What was one thing you did abroad that you couldn’t have done in Cleveland?
While in Botswana, I went on a Safari. And this was no “trip to the zoo.” We were out in the wild and had to search for the animals by jeep. We had a herd of elephants march 20 feet away from camp, and a leopard walk right by our tents in the early morning. Not to mention, outside of the safari at a game reserve, I had the opportunity to pet an actual cheetah.

In Guatemala, I hiked mountains, partook in an Ancient Mayan religious ceremony, toured a Jade factory, and bartered for all the goods that I purchased. Definitely not opportunities I have frequently in Cleveland!

Besides your study abroad, tell us about a course you’ve taken at CWRU that has influenced your global perspective.
I have taken 5 Spanish courses that have all greatly influenced my global perspective without a doubt. A language provides so much insight to a culture alone. The Spanish I have learned and been fortunate enough to practice in a native country has really given me a perspective on the Latin American world. Also, taking EBME 398, Senior Research Design, has allowed me to see what kind of influential research is being done abroad, and even interact with some consulting researchers from Switzerland.

What places are next on your bucket list?
The big ones as of now are the U.K., China, Brazil, and India. All very different cultures that will offer a more complete perspective on the ever-changing world.