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Study Abroad Blog

Onsite Team: Fun, Friends & Family

I think it has something to do with everyone being mutually confused and excited, but people aren’t joking when they say your friends from study abroad become your friends for life. There is just something special about every study abroad experience; only the people that were there with you really understand where you are coming from. The cool part is that this includes your CEA study abroad leaders and directors, too.
 Leo, my roommate and I at our farewell dinner

As I wrap up my time interning with Program Directors, Maggie and Leo, at the CEA San Jose location, here are three ways you may bond with your onsite team when you study abroad:

Fun: It is probably no surprise, but being away from friends, family, home, and everything familiar for an extended amount of time can be difficult in many different ways. Oftentimes these difficulties are not something the students can address themselves. Cue program director! As described in my past post, the Directors have to wear many different hats on a daily basis, but throughout everything the primary goal is to help the students to feel as safe, comfortable, and happy as possible.
 Leo & Maggie

Friends: Program Directors also work very hard to plan enjoyable cultural activities and excursions,  many of which they accompany students! As a result of the constant availability, desire to help, and proximity on trips, Program Directors become pretty good friends with the students.

Family: On this matter, I can speak from experience. After being in Costa Rica for three months, I left thinking of Maggie and Leo more as friends than separate authorities. While I did have to reach out to them occasionally about logistical questions or business-like things, we have stayed in touch mostly due to our shared passion of study abroad and a desire to be mutually helpful to each other in whatever ways possible. I know that if I ever need a letter of recommendation or travel advice from people who have been there, I can contact Maggie or Leo. They know if they ever need somewhere to stay in my area of the US or a student’s perspective on CEA issues, I would be happy to accommodate.
 Leo, Marissa and I at Volcan Irazu
And the list goes on. But the important thing to remember, much more than the beneficial reciprocity, is that your Program Directors are people, too. Something to keep in mind if you’re about to go abroad or something you already know if you have returned from a program: While they are not in the same boat as you in terms of immersion into a completely new culture, your CEA leaders are still interested in having fun and making friends from other cultures!

Macey Hallstedt is a Winter 2013 CEA San José alumna, CEA Senior Alumni Ambassador at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and currently a summer 2014 CEA Alumni Ambassador intern in San José. Don’t miss her next post about her connection with her host family! 

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