Studying abroad is a unique opportunity for college students to explore a new country, experience different cultures, meet individuals from around the world and even earn credits. While some individuals may be hesitant to study abroad due to the length of time or cost, sophomore Hugo Garrido-Lestache found a solution that was perfect for him thanks to help from the Office of Multicultural Affairs. 

Garrido-Lestache was born in Spain and moved to London, England when he was about eight years old. He enjoyed programming and making his own games when he was younger, so computer science was the perfect fit for him and made MSOE an easy choice.

During his freshman year at MSOE, Garrido-Lestache had a desire to study abroad and shared his interest with Leo Schauer, assistant director of multicultural affairs, who found a 10-day study abroad program on game and theory design in Italy. Schauer helped Garrido-Lestache apply, and he was accepted along with 14 other students from around the world.

“They told me the reason I got in was because of the games I made as a child,” said Garrido-Lestache. “Which goes to show your habits and interests can land you opportunities,” said Schauer. 

In the Italy program, Garrido-Lestache was challenged to work with a team to create a board game about circular economy. “It’s hard to make a game about circular economy,” joked Garrido-Lestache. “But ours had a lot of moving tiles where one thing affects another. It was super strategical and a lot of fun.”

Although he was slightly disappointed when he found out the program was about board game development rather than digital games, Garrido-Lestache enjoyed being able to learn with students and professors from around the world while gaining international communication skills and exploring Italy. He was grateful he was able to attend the program thanks to a scholarship that covered the entire cost.

The short-term experience inspired Garrido-Lestache to apply for a semester-long study abroad program in New Zealand. He was accepted but decided to turn it down after being offered a data science internship at Direct Supply.

As an international student, Garrido-Lestache tries to get as much experience as possible trying new things. At MSOE, he is a member of the Climbing Club, Unicycle Club, Swim Club and the Crochet Club. He encourages others to grasp opportunities presented to them. “Say yes to everything. It’s not good for my time, but I always manage to find time and have a lot of fun.”

Schauer encourages other students who are interested in studying abroad to reach out to the Office of Multicultural Affairs for assistance in finding the program that’s right for them. “Be proactive and ask for help. We’re here to help you!”