Alumna Veronica Pacheco (’18) Deepens Her Understanding Of the World Through Travel

Alumna Veronica Pacheco (’18) Deepens Her Understanding Of the World Through Travel

Alumna Veronica Pacheco (’18) Deepens Her Understanding Of the World Through Travel

Veronica Pacheco, ’18, was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, but when it comes to learning, the world is her classroom. “I’m a big believer in trying new things, meeting new people, traveling the world and immersing yourself in different cultures,” says Pacheco. “Each new experience provides you with a new perspective.”

Starting Off At John Jay
When Pacheco first enrolled at John Jay, she assumed she would follow in her father’s footsteps, majoring in Political Science, and eventually becoming a lawyer. “But I took a couple of International Criminal Justice courses and found that I had a real passion for international relations, which encompass all the avenues of justice I was interested in exploring—political, social, and economic,” says Pacheco. To help her understand the different political and social economic climates on the international landscape, Pacheco immersed herself in several study abroad experiences, giving her a front row seat to the world of international relations.

Learning New Cultures
“The first study abroad program I did was in Melbourne, Australia. It was the first time I traveled that far away from my family and it showed me I could do it. By that I mean, I could not only achieve getting into the program, but I could also successfully complete it,” she says. “The second experience took me to Florence, Italy. While I was there I took an organized crime course that I found really fascinating.”

Pacheco (far left) with friends in South Korea
Pacheco (far left) with friends in South Korea

“Studying abroad gives you incredible opportunities. You get to meet different people from different walks of life. You witness first-hand how different political systems, economies, and societies work.” —Veronica Pacheco ’18

The most recent study abroad experience Pacheco experienced—and one of the trips she held most dear to her heart—was studying in Busan, South Korea. “For me, South Korea started as an interest, and then just kept growing. My initial thought was that I wanted to explore the dynamics between North Korea and China, and between North and South Korea, and see how those dynamics play a role in society. But I quickly became fascinated by the South Korean culture, their language, their history, and of course, the people. Studying abroad gives you incredible opportunities,” says Pacheco. “You get to meet different people from different walks of life. You witness first-hand how different political systems, economies, and societies work.”

Pacheco celebrating a Tae Kwon Do victory
Pacheco celebrating a Tae Kwon Do victory

Pacheco received the  U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship which selects only a small number of students to travel to a country and fully immerse themselves in a language program. “My time in South Korea was made up of language classes five hours a day, five days a week for eight weeks. I also worked with language partners and teachers regularly, did weekly presentations, and fully immersed myself in the culture—which even included taking Tae Kwon Do classes.” While intense, the program was well worth it. In a two-month time frame, she went from knowing just five phrases—yes, no, thank you, hi, and my name is—to being able to understand and comfortably chat with the locals. “By the end of the program I had learned so much, I was able to speak and understand basic conversation. It was so exciting to go to the local supermarket, buy groceries, and communicate with native speakers,” says Pacheco.

Broadening Her Horizons
Beyond expanding her language skills, the opportunity to travel abroad also provided Pacheco with a new perspective on justice issues both in the U.S. and internationally. “Through my study abroad experiences I have been able to observe how different parts of the world work. I’ve seen how political systems and societies operate, and how economies and social classes differ from my own. Things that are the norm for us—freedom of the press or a right to a fair trial—are a privilege somewhere else. You learn to appreciate what you have at home,” she says. “You get to see more of the world, and that of course makes you more open as a person, which leads to growth as a person.”

Pacheco sightseeing with a friend in South Korea
Pacheco sightseeing with a friend in South Korea

“There’s is a world out there waiting to meet you. In order to meet it you have to step outside your comfort zone.” —Veronica Pacheco, ’18

Veronica encourages John Jay students to explore as many new opportunities and programs as they can. “Apply to everything, even if you don’t think you’ll get it. Try it anyway. The doubt is always going to be there. Don’t limit yourself by boxing yourself in. That’s not the way to approach life, let alone your college career. I’ve learned that there’s is a world out there waiting to meet you. In order to meet it you have to step outside your comfort zone. And when you do, you’ll be amazed at what you can learn from the world around you.”