“Studying abroad was the best decision of my life! I can’t say that enough.”
Those are the words of CSULB student Raychel Ruiz, who spent the first half of 2017 as an Education Abroad student at the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) in Aarhus, Denmark. The oldest and largest educational institution that offers journalism courses in that country, DMJX ended up being a perfect fit for Ruiz—even if she didn’t quite know what she was getting into.
'At first, I had no idea what DMJX was, I just knew it was specifically for journalism students,” explained Ruiz. “My Education Abroad advisor, Lauryn White, was really the one that pushed me and made me excited to go. I was even more set on going when she told me that no one from CSULB had gone to this location. I really just wanted a new challenge and new environment.”
Once she arrived in Aarhus, Ruiz jumped right into a program on International Broadcast Reporting and European Politics, which mainly focused on creating video content for broadcast on the school’s International TV Reporting program. Though she spent most of her six-month visit in the relatively small city, she enjoyed its quaint neighborhoods and parks as well as the nearby forest and beaches.
“It’s been over a year and I still think about it every day,” Ruiz said. “The most rewarding thing about it was all the people that I was able to meet. I was able to connect with people from all kinds of different countries. I still have extremely close friends that I talk to weekly. I’m even visiting some of them next year!”
In addition to Aarhus, Ruiz enjoyed a class trip to Copenhagen to visit the European Union for tours and lectures, and also made a weekend excursion to Hamburg, Germany.
More notably, she spent two weeks in Valencia and Madrid to film her final documentary. Entitled “Los Desafortunados: The Lost Children of Spain,” the 13-minute film features interviews with activists and families affected by tragic events that began during the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Between 1939 and 1990, more than 300,000 newborn babies were stolen from their biological mothers. The documentary can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/UcObZo0CcYA.
“I loved the work I did over there,” said Ruiz. “But now that I’ve been back for a year, my career path is starting to change. I am considering becoming a study abroad advisor myself now. The way Lauryn helped me find the perfect program really inspired me to want to do that for others.”
In the meantime, Ruiz graduated from CSULB in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, and has already landed a job in marketing at Pacific 6, an investment company in Long Beach that is currently renovating the historic Breakers Hotel.
“As you can see, I’m at a bit of a crossroads in life right now!” said Ruiz of her multiple interests. “My experience abroad definitely helped me land this job. Being abroad taught me to not be afraid to get what I want, and it showed me how to meet people and make connections. It’s also definitely a great talking point to be able to say that I lived in another country, and adapted enough to be able to create stories about events in Aarhus.”
With that kind of global perspective, Ruiz is ready for whatever comes her way.