HBCUs Abroad Presents: Charmaine

Meet Charmaine Shuford
Washington, D.C.
Winston-Salem State University, May 2013
Mass Communications

Charmaine is currently enrolled in a Master’s program for International Studies at the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, California. She moved here after spending time in her hometown of Washington, DC realizing that she needed to pursue what she genuinely loves doing; which is traveling, learning about other countries and learning how they operate. Her first trip abroad was to Curacao and then Italy, where she completed a media journalist internship for one month. From there, it was no stopping her. First came Costa Rica then a two-month internship in Venezuela which transformed her life in so many ways. On the contrary of traveling, Charmaine has a strong passion for dancing and the arts. When she is not involved in these two things, she is with friends or family. 

“I have always been very oriented so the fact that I travel a lot doesn’t allow me a lot of time to spend with them. However, when I do, it’s always the best.”

What was your motivation for studying abroad?
     My motivation to study abroad all came down to my constant need to challenge myself. I had recently completed an internship in Italy as an investigative reporter and I realized that the world was much bigger than what I had been exposed to. Going back to my home school was a wake up call that I had been in a comfortable environment in college and I literally began feeling platonic. I made it a personal goal to do something I’ve never done which was to leave home for an extended amount of time. 

What is your favorite memory from study abroad?
     Meeting new friends and traveling the country with them. I am still great friends with them today.

What was the toughest thing about studying abroad? 
     The toughest part is definitely being home sick and being able to allow yourself to become humble. Everyone got homesick and it is something that is normal and should be acknowledged as being normal. The people you meet there understand the feeling as well so you form a family bond because you then become dependent on each other for support. This also forces you to become more humble. A lot of people don’t like asking for help, but there is no way you can be in another country where the language is a barrier and not ask for help. It’s a great character building moment. 

How has your experience abroad helped your personal development? 
     My experience has definitely helped my personal development. I not only learned that I am not as superficial as I thought (haha), but I learned that life is so much more than shopping every weekend or constantly being on your phone. There were moments where I didn’t care about the outside world because all that mattered to me was where I was at the moment. I also learned to have a greater appreciation for being a black woman. Where I was living, I constantly saw and experienced subtle prejudice acts, but for me, that made me want to embrace my culture even more. 

How has study abroad impacted your global awareness? 
     My global awareness is far better than what it used to be. Before I started my International Studies Master’s program, I had begun to look more at news websites to see how the other side of the world is doing. Traveling helps you care much more about other countries besides your own. 

How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career? 
     It has led me to pursue my Master’s degree in International Studies in which I see my career being surrounded by this area of interest forever.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying abroad? 
     Be open. Allow yourself the space to go through the rollercoaster ride of emotions that you will experience. It’s normal. Also, be who you are but know that you may experience some changes. Just because you go to another country doesn’t mean you have to abandon the fashionista that you may be or the smooth guy you perceive yourself as. That’s not the problem. The problem will come in when you bring these qualities to another country with arrogance behind it. Just as you are learning about their culture, they are learning about yours. You ARE a representative of this country, your race, your gender, of everything. So be yourself but be open and you will have the best time of your life. 

How can people contact you for more information?
Facebook:Charmaine Nayeli

Thank you Charmaine!
Want to represent your HBCU with an interview? I’m still looking for lots of stories! Contact Me!

- The Natural Travelista