Okay, so as a now alumni of study abroad,
there is three things I really want to touch on, just really quick advice to keep in mind
as you kind of go through your study abroad process. Things that really stood out to me
personally that I feel are important. So to start out, obviously, beginning of study abroad
is choosing a program. It can seem very overwhelming, we have 90 programs in 60 countries. That’s
alot, and I don’t know about you, but I did not have the time to go through our website
and read every single program description and look at what they offer. Just, it wasn’t
going to happen, I’m a college student, I’m busy. So my biggest advice is for choosing
a program, is sit down, think about what do you want to get from your study abroad experience.
Why are you going? Do you want to go to a particular country? Do you want to study the
language? Do you want to maybe get some credits out of the way? Regardless of what it is,
having those priorities makes it a lot easier. So to give you an example, when I was going
abroad, I wanted a program that was Spanish speaking, because I do have a Spanish minor,
so I was really hoping to get experience in Spanish, so a Spanish speaking country, hello!
The second thing is, I personally really wanted my program to be budget friendly, I needed
it to be budget friendly, broke college student, hello! So that was one of my criteria, personally,
because that was the reality for me. Then the final thing, kind of, that I didn’t articulate,
but I was hoping for the back of my mind was I’m a business student, and I was thinking
it’d be really cool if I did an internship abroad. I didn’t know if it was possible,
I didn’t know of the process was, but it was just something I put on the shelf like “oh
maybe I’ll do an internship”, so by having those sort of two or three points, it became
so much easier for me to choose programs because starting out with Spanish speaking, there
was three programs offered in Spanish speaking countries, and that limited it way down. Then
I compared the prices, the budget, and that limited it down again. From there I decided
that the best program for me was in Mexico, ITESM program, and I had a great time because
I found a program based on my needs and my wants on what I wanted to get from my study
abroad experience. Regardless of whether you go abroad, there’s going to be alot of opportunities.
And my biggest piece of advice while you’re there, take advantage of those opportunities.
These are wide ranging, so take advantage of the fact that you’re meeting people from
all around the world, take advantage of the fact that often times your university is teaching
differently or they’re offering different classes that won’t be offered here at ISU,
because it’s all learning experience and then in particular, take every opportunity you
have to go off campus, go explore. Please travel, don’t stay at your school. Like you
want to see the world, and you can’t do that if you just stay in your room and don’t go
out. So for me, my university organized some trips. For example I went to the pyramids
of … That was a school trip, we went on like a weekend trip where we went white water
rafting, and jumping off waterfalls, and we visited these ruins, that was through my school
and I decided to go because I’ve never done that before so I conquered fears of jumping
off waterfalls while I was there, so that’s a plus. So be on the look out for things your
university sponsors, but also take initiative. If you’ve always wanted to go visit this site,
or this city, do it! You have the internet, you can literally find all the information
that you need, grab a couple friends and go! You will be so happy that you did, yes the
studying part of study abroad is important, but don’t think that that means you have to
just sit in your room and read your textbook because you’re going to miss out on the experience
that is study abroad. That’s what is the most important part. And the final thing that I
really want to talk about is your professional development. Now that may not seem like something
that really coincides, but the fact that less than 10% of undergraduates like us, study
abroad. And the government is working on doubling those numbers, but it just doesn’t happen.
It’s not a trend. So first of all, I congratulate you on studying abroad, because you stand
out. You are 1 of a small group of people, that has decided to take on the opportunity
to study abroad. So good job. Now, what are you going to do with that. Regardless of what
your major is, regardless of what your job you want, what career you’re going into, study
abroad will make you stand out. Because so few people do it, so while you’re there, realize
that you are gaining experience that you can apply to a professional setting. Intercultural
communication, dealing with people from different cultures, in fact- that happens in our world
everyday because globalization and all that. Like, you can’t avoid it. On top of that,
you may be able to get professional experience. I was able to do an internship through my
program so that’s literally on my resume. I talk about it in all the interviews that
I go to because it’s something different. Yeah, it’s an internship and yes, I was doing
marketing analysis but I did it in a different country! In a completely foreign office while
doing it in a different language, so there you go. So that is one way to approach professional
development but if you don’t do an internship, that’s fine! Realize that you are developing
skills, such as being independent, reading a map, all that planning is important for
organizational skills. Be sure that you can figure out how to market your study abroad
experience for when you come back because the experience is done, you’re back in the
U.S, but the benefits don’t have to stop just because you have left the country that you
were visiting. And there are plenty of resources for that. There are other ambassadors like
myself. There is the staff in the Study abroad office who would love to talk about that.
And there’s even people in the Career Center who will help you work on your resume to sort
of bring out the important points of your Study Abroad experience. So, that’s like my
two cents on the most important things on Study Abroad. You’re gonna have an awesome
time! Go forward, you know. Carpe diem! And just , do it. It’s gonna be great. Have a
good time, guys.