During my senior year at Cal State San Marcos, I had the opportunity to work with CEA as an Alumni Ambassador. During this time, I connected with other abroad alumni who shared the same passion for studies internationally. There were two questions we were always encouraged to reflect on. The first was, "what is the greatest lesson you learned from being abroad?" Until now, I thought my answer to that question defined my experience. What was that answer? In short, I said that study abroad changed me. It changed who I am and how I embrace the world.
Now, the second question was, "how can you use what you learned from abroad here, at home?" Again, until now, my answer was sufficient. It was, to share my passion with my peers. But here is the catch, I am now fully realizing what this means. At my school, not many students had gone with CEA, especially not in their France programs. The French program is relatively small on my alma mater's campus and many people didn't realize a minor in the language was even possible. CEA helped me take it one step further and I am now among the first from CSUSM to hold a Bachelor of Arts in French Language.
Now you are wondering what this has to do with my sudden realization of "what I learned from abroad and how I applied it." Here's the thing...during that year, I was everywhere. I was the President of the French Club, Holy Crêpe, and I worked with CEA to get the word out on campus. Due to my time spent with both programs, it only made sense that I combined them. Now, the number of new students in the French program has increased and the wait lists for our French classes are longer than they ever were before.
This sounds like I am taking credit for this, I am not. I give all that credit to CEA especially to CEA:Aix-en-Provence and the Alumni Ambassadors team. The team in Aix gave me all the tools I needed to succeed and grow in a place that was once so foreign and now I call it home. Then you have the Alumni relations group who helped ease the transition back to the States and got us thinking about what this all means. I have spoken to so many people about my experience that I have helped them go after their dream. Many of my friends have even taken up a new language and are planning their own trips abroad because they want to experience its magic. Some have even named me as their motivating factor. Yes, we as individuals have to make the most out of what gets put in front of us but, what is more important are the people who help guide us.
After a push from a friend at CSUSM, and the team at CEA, I am honored to help people go after their dreams abroad. It has opened so many doors with so many new opportunities for me that I can only hope it will always do so. The beauty is finding these opportunities as they have fallen into my lap. International education gave that to me :)
So, what is my new answer to "my greatest lesson from abroad?" Simple. Never look back. Go for it. If you love something, don't be afraid of it no matter how hard it may be. Just look at me, I am living my dream. Before I left Aix in June 2012, I swore I would be back after graduation. And well, here I am. I live in Bordeaux, France and I am following my heart and living my dreams.
Brittany Rose served as a CEA Alumni Ambassador during the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters after spending the Fall 2011/Spring 2012 academic year studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. Currently, she is attending grad school at the Université de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. Read the original version of this post on her blog, Bonjour Brittany.
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