Almost exactly three months ago I was sitting in my room in England freaking out over the fact that I had to return to America in a few days. I knew that my school offered something for returning students when they came back home so I jumped on the website to look for it. That is how I learned about the LFA conference in Washington.
LFA stands for Lessons From Abroad Conference and is geared towards students who have returned home from studying abroad. The conference is designed to welcome students back home and talk about how real it all is. Then the students learn how to use their new found study abroad skills to market themselves, and talk about options on how they could go abroad again.
When the conference first started we were in a room full of students who had all studied abroad, and we were all asked to think about how long we had been back. At that point I had only been back about two months and it hit really hard. I had been away studying for ten months and it is still weird sometimes to be back. I had studied abroad on a custom program with CEA in Rome, Prague, and Paris over the span of eight weeks for my first trip. Then I traveled the summer all over Europe by myself and started school in the South of England in the fall. I hadn’t been back in the states for almost a year and it was really hard to transition back.
I was among only a few other students who had been back for less than six months, but it was nice to see that wasn’t alone. We then talked about how many programs we had been on, and it was nice to see that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t only do one as well. After meeting each other, we talked about how real reverse culture shock is and it was nice to have a very honest and open conversation about it with other people who understood.
After I returned back I feel like I had changed, but everything had kind of stayed exactly the same here. I had new knowledge a new outlook, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with that. I have a much broader viewpoint now that I did before I left, and I think that has helped to shape me a lot since I have been back. LFA had a session where we were able to talk about how to market those skills and put them on our resumes that it would help us in our endeavors. Studying abroad had also helped confirm the fact that I really want to return abroad, so I was very excited for that information.
We were able to talk about the different options that we, as students have that will allow us to return abroad. I was able to get more information about graduate school and jobs abroad. I really want to continue traveling abroad and I was very excited that this conference was able to help me find other options on how to continue that.
I attended this conference to help my school, Seattle Pacific University (who hosted the event) as a Global Ambassador with the Study Abroad Office, and as a CEA Alumni Ambassador. I applied for both of these programs because I loved my study abroad more than I ever could have imagined and I want to help other students find a program that they will fall in love with too. Meeting students who loved their experience just as much as I did really confirmed my decision to continue to be involved in the study abroad community. It is such a wonderful experience and I want to help as many students have a chance to be abroad as I possibly can.
Attending the LFA conference helped me a lot with the transition back. I still have a bit of a hard time with it, but it’s nice to know that there is support out there. I was also able to see just how great of a decision I made with helping in the international education community, and I hope that I will be able to continue in this community for a while.
Celene H. is a CEA Alumni Ambassador. She is a student at Seattle Pacific University, where she is studying Global Development and Political Science-International Relations. She studied abroad with CEA in Rome, Italy, Prague, Czech Republic & Paris, France in the Spring of 2016.
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