Meet 3 globe-trotting students

Through UNC Study Abroad programs, this trio traveled to Europe, Asia and the Caribbean for study and cultural experiences.

Six-photo collage: A woman sitting in the anchor chair in an TV news studio; green, red, blue and pink balloons with Korean text on them; sunset view of a beach; a male student posing for a photo in a vehicle with a lake seen in the background; two women taking a selife photo in a kayak on water; aerial image of a cityscape with water in the background.
Lauryn Lovett (upper left) studied media and culture in South Korea, John Swinea (lower center) took the Coral Reef Ecology in the Caribbean class in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Erika Munguia took biology courses in Sevilla, Spain. (submitted photos)

This summer, while some Tar Heels took classes on campus, others traveled a bit further for their studies. All told, 1,065 students participated in UNC Study Abroad programs in summer 2023, traveling to Costa Rica, Israel, England, Greece and many other locations.

Learn about three students and their experiences in St. John, South Korea and Spain.

Lauryn Lovett

Lauryn Lovett ’24 traveled to South Korea for the Media and Culture in South Korea Maymester course through the Hussman School Journalism and Media. During the two-week trip, Lovett and her 16 classmates visited ad agencies and media organizations to learn more about journalism, media, advertising and public relations in South Korea.

“For me, having a concentration in broadcasting, getting to go to several stations was super cool, especially the ones where I was able to sit at their desks and really manifest that for myself one day,” said Lovett, a journalism and political science major.

The students spent most of the time in Seoul but traveled to Busan for a few days to tour a local university and its media program. They also visited several cultural locations, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, where they watched the changing of the guard and rented traditional Korean clothing.

A woman sitting in an anchor chair in a TV news studio.

Lauryn Lovett (submitted photo)

Erika Munguia

Erika Munguia ’24 traveled to Sevilla, Spain, for five weeks to take Carolina biology courses with other Carolina faculty members and students. She studied stem cells and evolutionary biology and says she instantly connected with her classmates because of their interest in science. For both of her courses, she read and presented on research papers.

She also visited the cities of Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and Madrid. The group took a trip to a research lab called Centro Andaluz de Biologia del Desarrollo.

She said her favorite experience was a spontaneous trip she took with friends she met while abroad.

“Last minute, I joined a group of girls going to Faro to kayak through the Benagil caves in Portugal at 8 a.m. It was one of the most chaotic and fun trips I did during the program,” Munguia said. “I remember that on that Friday, we had our program’s excursion to the Cathedral of Sevilla. Right after the excursion, we came back to our dorm, finished packing and took a bus to Faro.”

Selfie photo of two women in a kayak on the water.

Erika Munguia (front) (submitted photo)

John Swinea

John Swinea ’26, along with 20 other Carolina students, traveled to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for two weeks in May for the Coral Reef Ecology in the Caribbean class. The course is offered through the Institute for the Environment and the Environment, Ecology and Energy program.

Swinea said the class on coral reef preservation and management aligned perfectly with his majors in pre-business and environmental studies. He and his classmates spent a lot of time snorkeling near the reefs, where they saw sharks, rays, large fish and coral. They took quizzes in the water to test their knowledge about what they were learning.

Along with snorkeling, the students also rode in open air taxis, shopped and took sailboat rides. In the evening, the students returned to their campsites, where they reviewed what they had learned and socialized.

“Not only was this an unbelievably beautiful place, but it had amazing people who were so kind and welcoming. I enjoyed experiencing not only the beautiful beaches but the cultural experiences we had as well,” Swinea said.

John Swinea

John Swinea (submitted photo)