University of Delaware physics student Niko Reed traveled more than
5,000 miles to study abroad in Chile during Winter Session. In December,
Reed was named one of the University's newest Benjamin A. Gilman
In a question-and-answer email conversation from Chile with UD’s Institute for
Global Studies, Reed shared thoughts on the experiences and offered
advice for fellow Blue Hens.
Q: Where and what are you studying? How does it relate to your major or educational plans at UD?
Reed: I’m in Santiago, Chile, with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ Winter 2020 Study Abroad program. I’m taking a class on Chilean history and a class on Chilean culture, both of which count toward the Spanish minor.
I’m a physics major, and it is possible that I will return to Chile,
as it is home to the clearest skies in the world and the most important
telescopes. While I am not yet sure where my career will take me, or if I
will stay in physics after graduation, being fluent in another language
is always beneficial. I’m even considering working abroad for a year
after I graduate.
Q: What inspired you to study abroad and choose this program?
Reed: I have wanted to study abroad since I was eight or nine
years old and first learned that it was an opportunity that existed. I
have always loved learning languages, and I really wanted a chance to
become fluent in Spanish. Chile was my first-choice country because of
the beautiful and diverse scenery combined with the big city vibe of
Santiago (home to seven million people!). Chile really has it all: a
giant city, deserts, beaches, mountains, lakes, glaciers and lots of
Q: What educational or cultural experience will you remember most?
Reed: My host family will always have a special place in my
heart. I love living with them and I savor our conversations. It is
interesting to compare our thoughts on politics, culture and so much
In addition, I’m going to remember the nature I’ve seen here forever.
I have been left speechless and overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the
landscapes here many times.
Q: How will your international experience help you when you return to UD and in your future career?
Reed: This experience has been a huge confidence boost for me.
I hiked over 30 miles in four days! I woke up at three-o’clock in the
morning to catch a plane and then climbed a volcano all before
lunchtime. I’ve gotten to know so many strangers while speaking only my
second language, and I've done it all while taking six intense credits.
In the future, I think I will take more risks and pursue more
opportunities because of this program. It has proven to me that I am
capable of doing anything.
Q: How has UD helped prepare you for study abroad?
Reed: Between UD and the Benjamin A. Gilman International
Scholarship, I felt very prepared to travel. The Institute for Global
Studies (IGS) made sure that I was signed up for the right safety
alerts, prepared for a travel experience and familiar with this part of
the world. I would never have known where to go for all of that
information on my own.
Q: What advice would you give to future study abroad students and their families?
Reed: Anyone who wants to study abroad but thinks it isn't
possible for them should explore if they can make their dream a reality.
Just a year ago, I thought it would be impossible to study abroad. I am
a STEM major, I have chronic health conditions, I have dietary
restrictions and I am transgender. It felt like a lot to handle. But
here I am, and it’s been going really well on all fronts. I’m so glad I
didn’t give up on my dream. If you're in this position, meeting with a
study abroad coordinator at IGS is a great way to get more information.
I also want to recommend Chile to any LGBT students interested in
visiting South America. I am visibly transgender and have had nothing
but positive experiences here in Chile, which is known to be
LGBT-friendly. While it can feel overwhelming, don’t let your fears hold
you back from studying abroad.
Q: What is the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and how did it help you make study abroad a reality?
Reed: The Gilman Scholarship is available to all students who
receive Federal Pell Grants. The goal of the scholarship is to create
access to study abroad for students with limited financial means and to
strengthen connections between people from the United States and abroad.
In exchange for up to $5,000 in funding, the scholarship requires a
follow-on service project. When I return from Chile, I will help other
students with chronic illness and/or disabilities navigate global
experiences. I am so happy to have been able to study abroad when I once
thought it was impossible, and my goal is to encourage others and share
tips I have learned along the way. More information about the Gilman
Scholarship can be found at www.gilmanscholarship.org.
For Future Explorers
Students interested in studying abroad should visit the Institute for Global Studies website to learn more about programs. Read more stories from University of Delaware students on the UD Abroad blog.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies (IGS) inspires and facilitates the
pursuit of global understanding by developing innovative and inclusive
programs of study, opportunities for experiential learning and strategic
Perhaps best known for leading the nation’s first study abroad
program, IGS is also home to the first-of-its-kind UD World Scholars
Program and the Delaware Diplomats Scholarship Program. IGS supports
student success through advising for prestigious awards, including
Fulbright, Boren, Gilman and Critical Language Scholarships, as well as
sponsorship of the International House (iHouse) Living Learning
The Institute annually administers internationally-recognized State
Department public diplomacy programs, bringing more than 75 young
leaders from around the world to UD’s Newark campus.
IGS provides faculty funding for research and collaboration abroad,
manages the University’s global partnerships and agreements process and
sponsors signature events, such as UD Global Month and the Spring
Fulbright Lecture Series.
To learn more, visit the IGS website and follow along @UDGlobal on Instagram and Twitter.
Article by Nikki Laws; photo courtesy of Niko Reed
Published Feb. 19, 2020