Emily's Study Abroad Story

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Senior Emily Tatum says that she gained three tangible skills during her semester studying abroad in Ecuador: bread baking, salsa dancing and a better understanding of Latin America.

During the fall semester of her junior year, Emily took classes with local students in Spanish at La Universidad de San Francisco de Quito through an IES Abroad Direct Enrollment Program. She was also there during the summer interning with the state department at the U.S. Embassy in Quito.

As an international studies and political science major interested in foreign policy, studying abroad gave Emily to learn about Latin America and its politics at a greater depth. 

“Being in the middle of Ohio at Miami, you don’t really understand the further context to foreign policy without leaving the country,” Emily said. “Getting to be on the other side and meet people and hear their perspectives, it just enriched my study of U.S. foreign policy and of my future in the government and in the public service.” 

In addition to her interest in foreign policy, Emily also got to pursue her love of baking through her classes in Ecuador.

“Every Monday for three hours I would put on my chef’s uniform for the class, and we’d be kneading our dough for two or three hours and just talking to each other and getting to know each other in a different way than I can know students in my political science classes, and gained a really great skill of bread baking.”

Outside of the classroom, Emily got to travel to the Amazon, the Galapagos Islands and nearby volcanoes, all of which she thought were breathtaking, but she felt that the little everyday moments held just as much, if not more meaning. 

“The most rich cultural moments were when I was face-to-face with someone drinking tea or drinking hot chocolate or playing soccer, and just doing life with them, getting to hear their perspectives and their thoughts on U.S. culture, U.S. politics, and getting to share mine.”

By going to classes with the local students, Emily was able to foster a group of friends who welcomed her into their lives despite her different background. One of her friends visited Emily last summer in Washington D.C. while she was studying abroad and Emily was interning.

“By the end of the semester, I had many many friends and was in a friend group of Ecuadorian students at the university,” Emily said.  “It was just an incredible experience to be welcomed so quickly into people’s lives, and going to their family’s houses and going to movie nights and sleepovers, and just sharing life with people in other cultures.”

This wasn’t the first time that Emily has traveled and studied abroad. But this time, she brought home with her a new sense of self and a new set of experiences that shaped how approaches her life now.

“I learned how to be a kid again in Quito,” Emily said. “I learned how to slow down, I learned how to laugh at myself both in Spanish with my language skills at the time, and then also just in learning to do life differently. Returning to Miami I just felt a new breath of fresh air in returning and had a different perspective in finishing my studies here.”  

About Emily

Emily Tatum headshot


Carmel, IN

Graduation Year



International Studies, Political Science, Latin American Studies




IES Direct Enrollment - Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Favorite Class 

Tie between International Conflict & Panadería (bread-baking)

Favorite Destination Abroad

Casa de Cultura. She went to numerous free ballet productions with the Ballet Nacional de Ecuador.

Campus Involvement

Janus Forum, the Miami University Gospel Singers, and the Miami University Culinary Association