Maurizzio: Studying Abroad

Maurizzio, originally from Peru, has studied at universities in the US and the UK. He shares how those experiences are shaping his career, and offers some advice for anyone planning to study abroad.

Looking Back

I walk into the Starbucks and order a cup of coffee.

The man waiting for me gives me a quizzical look. ‘You take your coffee black?’ he asks. I nod.

We sit down and start to chat. It looks simple enough, but this man is here to evaluate me for a job. The atmosphere might look relaxed, but here I am, at 31 years old, seeking employment as a professor in one of Peru’s most prestigious universities.

His eyes scan my CV. ‘Maurizzio Zamudio, Peruvian. MA in History.’ He recites my information as if I he were teaching it to me for the first time. ‘I see you studied abroad. Where exactly?’

‘University of Exeter,’ I reply.

Fast forward one year and here I am, at 32, a full-fledged university professor lecturing in 2 different departments on topics related to Art History. Apart from that, I also give conferences on crisis management because, as my mentor says, ‘History is the history of crises’. In my spare time I’m polishing my two novels for their future publication.

That’s a lot.

Sometimes I wonder how it got to this point. I’m not complaining – I just really want to know how I came from being unemployed to having too much on my plate. Part of me knows the answer.

Let’s roll back the clock to 2005 when, at 17, I left home to do my Bachelor’s Degree in the US. Then to 2015 when I went to the UK for my Masters. The years spent abroad studying are definitely one of the many reasons employers jump at my CV.

Feels good, but I must give credit where credit is due. Without those experiences abroad, I probably wouldn’t be in the position I’m now.

‘Are you going abroad by yourself?’

I got asked this question multiple times. It makes sense, because leaving home for a foreign country on your own is a daunting task. It isn’t easy to adjust to a new language and new culture. You will make mistakes and mess up. But the important thing is to remember those are natural things. The whole ‘fish out of
the water’ feeling is what you are supposed to be going through.

Is it really that bad?

It doesn’t have to be. Granted, you will feel alone at first, but that’s natural; in my case, I knew no one on campus when I arrived. To me, what made my experience abroad were the friendships I made. You will make them too. You will meet people like you, newcomers who are just as lost as you are. Don’t feel embarrassed; everyone is just as scared as you are.

However, let me stress something; do go out, do meet people. I’m an introvert and I had to drag myself out to talk to people. I’m not the kind who does well in big groups, so I ended with a small circle of friends, but I knew I could count on them. Those people are lifesavers.

Depression is real, and being far from home, international students are more prone to it. Don’t give it an advantage.

Finally, I know you are there to study, so do study and get good grades, but don’t let studies take you away from enjoying the place you are in. Organise a road trip, go watch a film, do touristy things.

You are only in that city for a few years. Enjoy it.

Find Maurizzio on Twitter @Maurizzio_Z.

Literary Journals Looking for Diverse Writers

Is there anything as cathartic as processing your experiences, identity, and emotions through writing? If you decide your writing needs a home online, it can be a little daunting! Where do you even start?

This list will point you towards a few of the literary journals and e-mags that excel in promoting voices from a range of cultures. Why not just submit, and see where it takes you?

A Gathering of Tribes – In their words, ‘A Gathering of Tribes is an arts and cultural organization dedicated to excellence in the arts from a diverse perspective.’ They publish poetry, prose, essays, and reviews.

The Acentos Review – Latinos, this one’s for you! Accepting work in Spanish, English, Portuguese, or a combination, this magazine is looking for work from Latinx writers.

aaduna – This journal is particularly interested in providing a platform for writers of colour. In their words, ‘aaduna welcomes all work that addresses multicultural themes, and bolsters human dignity. ‘

Apogee – Their focus is identity politics, so if you have writing or art around the themes of race, gender, sexuality, class, ability or intersectional identities, definitely worth checking these guys out!

Callaloo – ‘A journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters’. A very reputable journal publishing poetry and essays by writers of African descent.

Cha – This journal publishes work with Asian themes, and work by Asian writers. They are an English-language online journal, based in Hong Kong.

Human/Kind – This journal focuses on Japanese short-forms of poetry and art, talking about the human experience, culture, and current events. They describe themselves as a community that ’embraces diversity’, and they accept non-English submissions (providing they come with a translation).

Kweli – In their words, ‘Kweli’s mission is to nurture emerging writers of colour and create opportunities for their voices to be recognized and valued.’

Solstice – Solstice is a literary magazine searching for high quality writing and photography from diverse perspectives. In their words, ‘We publish underserved writers, or writers on the margins. We publish writers of diverse nationalities, races and religions, and also writers from diverse cultures within our culture.’

Sukoon – This magazine works to showcase literature and art with Arab themes, discussing the diversity of Arab identity and experience. They publish work in English.