Raquel Paz from California likes being a guinea pig. No, we don’t mean the little furry creatures that children keep as pets, but the courageous people who take risks and try new things. Twenty-two-year-old Raquel studies social work at California State University, Long Beach and was the first in her class to sign up for a semester abroad at HAW Hamburg. 'I had often thought about study abroad, but was discouraged because I thought it would be too expensive or it would be a problem getting credit for the classes. But one day we had a presentation about a new study-abroad opportunity for social work students. We could take classes in Hamburg that would fulfil credit requirements at Long Beach, and we would also get to do an internship. And I was sold!' she remembers, smiling. It also helped that she was able to apply for two scholarships: the ASI-CSULB Study Abroad Scholarship and one from HAW Hamburg*.
Raquel transferred to Long Beach as a sociology major, but realised she was actually looking for a major that was more hands-on. 'I want to work with different groups of people and understand the problems they are facing and support them as a change-maker,' she explains. So she switched her major to social work. 'Social work is definitely my calling and together with sociology and gerontology as minors I have multiple perspectives that give me a more diverse outlook.' In researching the study abroad option in Hamburg she realised that the classes offered would expand her horizons even more. After sharing this information with fellow students she was able to convince eight other social work students to join her on the adventure.