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Senior Reflects on Estonia Experience as Country Celebrates 100 Years of Independence

In 2007, NWU agreed to a bilateral exchange with the University of Tartu in Estonia. In addition to study abroad opportunities, the exchange paved the way for additional cultural experiences for the men's and women's basketball teams, the University Choir
Senior global studies major Alexis Rodriguez-Garcia is the latest NWU student to study abroad in Estonia. Alexis (second from left) enjoys an evening in Tartu with new friends.
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In 2007, NWU agreed to a bilateral exchange with the University of Tartu in Estonia. In addition to study abroad opportunities, the exchange paved the way for additional cultural experiences for the men's and women's basketball teams, the University Choir, and a student entrepreneurial program.
Senior global studies major Alexis Rodriguez-Garcia is the latest NWU student to study abroad in Estonia. Alexis (second from left) enjoys an evening in Tartu with new friends.

Alexis Rodriguez-Garcia grew up traveling the globe — Mexico, Spain and France just to name a few.

So when it came time to meet the study abroad requirement for his global studies major, he wanted to study somewhere unfamiliar.

“Estonia was that place,” said Rodriguez.

He attributes his passion for travel to growing up in a bilingual and bicultural home and having opportunities to meet foreign exchange students while in high school.

Rodriguez spent the fall semester in Estonia at the University of Tartu. Since 2007, Nebraska Wesleyan has had a bilateral exchange program with the university. Since then, 27 NWU students have studied at the University of Tartu while 37 University of Tartu students have studied at Nebraska Wesleyan.

The bilateral exchange has led to additional cultural exchange opportunities. The men’s and women’s basketball teams, for example, participated in their first international tours there, the University Choir has traveled and performed in Estonia, and NWU participates in Network Globally, Act Locally (NGAL), a shared program with the College of Charleston, The Citadel, Tallinn University and the University of Tartu that helps entrepreneurial students develop their ideas. Teams of students from each school travel to Estonia for NGAL each summer.

In addition to learning about a new culture, Rodriguez appreciated the opportunity to learn about other cultures.

“You get immersed in different groups of cultures,” he recalled. “I was around French speakers, around Spanish, Turkish. There were all sorts of languages I had never heard around me. It was a real eye opener.”

“The U.S. is a big country,” he added, “but there is so much left of the world that I have yet to see.”

Rodriguez has no doubt that his international experiences will help his future career. He hopes to work for a company that will give him the opportunity to travel.

“Having that experience will set me apart from other people,” he said. “Hopefully it will help me attain my goals.”

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On February 23, Nebraska Wesleyan celebrated Estonia Independence Day on campus with remarks by Larry Ruth, Honorary Consul to the Republic of Estonia and political science instructor at NWU, who shared Estonia's history. Presentations were made by Estonian students Rufat Dargahli and Piia Maria Tomberg who are studying at NWU this year as well as Abby Feden who shared her study abroad experience at the University of Tartu.

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—Story by Emmalie Harris, public relations intern.