Student Abroad Spotlight: Jocelyn Silva

By Daniel Mendoza, M.S. • January 3, 2018


Jocelyn Silva is double majoring in English and Secondary Education with a teaching field in English Comprehensive. As part of her final requirements, Jocelyn is currently completing Student Teaching abroad. Going abroad is not a requirement for graduation but for Jocelyn, taking a chance and doing something different like studying in another country was an idea she always loved. While she questioned the ability to do it at the beginning, the thought of being in England was an opportunity she could not pass up. Besides, where else can you find Platform 9 ¾ ?

“This last picture is of me on my first full day in England. At this point I had no idea what to expect, what I would do, or who I would meet. I was adjusting and questioning my choice to study abroad. I didn’t know how to use public transportation, where to eat, find groceries, or find WiFi. I’m still learning, but I’ve learned to love my home away from home. Everyday is something different. I take the time to appreciate the places I see on my way into town, the people I meet, and taking in the simple things such as a walk to school. I’m learning to appreciate the unfamiliar.”

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Anaheim, California but I was raised in Las Vegas for the majority of my life. My senior year in high school I thought a lot about moving out of state but I wanted to cover most of my tuition expenses myself and graduate debt free. I’ve never regretted my time at UNLV and I continue to feel that it was the correct choice for me.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I’ve always loved learning but I haven’t always enjoyed school. I remember thinking about all the things I would do differently if I had my own classroom and how I would motivate my students to become lifelong learners. I want to become a teacher because I feel that a diverse and valuable education makes a difference and that we are all capable of reaching our academic potential.

What or who inspired you to Study Abroad?

I’m not sure that any single person or event inspired me to study abroad. I’ve always loved the idea of studying in a different country but I never seemed to have the motivation to do so. I began to question all of the reasons I believed I could never study abroad:  It was too expensive, I have a job, I’m too old, and I’ll never graduate on time. The reality was that I never informed myself enough to know whether I could make ends meet, my job is not my career, I am 22 years old, and I’m spending an extra year and a half at school anyway. I ended up with three different study abroad scholarships. Two were from UNLV and to my amazement, I attained the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.  I came to the realization that it was the time to take a chance on something different and so far it’s paying off.

Our study abroad group and I traveled to London our first full weekend in England and it was everything I imagined. All of the buildings looked so historical and there was always something to do. After miles of needless walking and confusion we were able to navigate through the underground to visit the London Bridge. Worth it.

Why England?

I love anything that has to do with literature and history and England is home to some of my favorite events/books: War of the Roses, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, etc. I am sure that most English majors have imagined themselves in England at one point or another.

What do you hope to get out of Student Teaching abroad?

I hope to have a better understanding of myself as a teacher and as a student. It has been interesting listening to people’s opinions about American politics and culture. Having discussions and listening to people’s views of the United States from an outside perspective is sometimes surprising, flattering, and even concerning but overall enriching. I know I will be a better teacher for this experience.

Any concerns/nerves before leaving?

Definitely. I worried a lot about having my visa documents sorted out and being able to get to campus once I landed. Honestly, it felt a little lonely to get on a plane all by myself but I was seated next to a lovely couple from California who had traveled all around the world and whose children studied abroad as well. They definitely reassured me about my decision to go abroad and told me it was one of the best decisions I would make. Luckily, I was able to reach out to visa experts via email from my host university and I met up with one of my study abroad colleagues at the airport since we landed at the same time.  I confess that we took the easy way out and caught an Uber. Better safe than sorry.

Is this the first time living away from family/friends?

Yes! The idea of spending so much time from my family and friends was a little mind boggling. I’ve always been considered more of an introvert and while there is no shame in that, I admit that I’ve always been a little too comfortable with the familiar. It was time to explore uncharted waters.

“Amsterdam is Europe’s cool cousin. Everything feels so progressive, the people are welcoming, the food is great, and there is always something interesting to do.”

Any specific sights, events, etc. that you are looking forward to seeing while in Europe?

I was able to travel to Amsterdam just last week. I sailed through the canals, visited the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and took pictures at the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. I would love to visit Italy, Spain, Ireland, and France soon.

Name 1-3 things that you could NOT leave home without?

My favorite jean jacket, camera, and phone.

Tips for students thinking about studying abroad?

  • Apply to all potential scholarships early, don’t leave it until the last minute.
  • Speak to previous study abroad students if you feel anxious or uncertain, I doubt anyone has truly regretted going abroad.
  • Just go to the informational meetings, if you overthink things you’ll talk yourself out of them.
  • Buy your plane ticket sooner rather than later and don’t procrastinate on important paper work.
  • Don’t let opportunity pass you. When else will you be able to say you lived in another country?