LFA – Lessons from Abroad – is an organization that offers study abroad returnee conferences across the country each year to help students process their experiences in a meaningful way and find avenues for further study, internship, or work abroad.
I went to the LFA Conference this October at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and it was one of the best experiences I had as an Alumni Ambassador this year. The campus was a beautiful place to host the event, and the on-site staff that coordinated, directed, and led the event were so welcoming. I was so impressed throughout the whole day! Lunch was catered and there were a variety of breakout sessions offered, including topics such as resumes, graduate school abroad, and finding a job abroad. When I was not in a session, I got a chance to table with CEA’s Alumni Relations Coordinator, Shayla. This included talking to and connecting with other study abroad alumni as a fellow student, while also providing information about CEA internships abroad.
The break-out sessions were the most impactful part of the day for me. The first session I attended was titled “Now What? Reflecting on Your International Experience in a Meaningful Way.” This was led by an adviser and a student mentor from a guest university. They talked about intentional strategies for helping students who return from studying overseas as well as the psychological and emotional aspects of studying abroad. The session was great because they encouraged us to share with one other at our tables and with the whole group. I really enjoyed this discussion-based session.
The second breakout session I attended was “No Place Like Home: Addressing Reverse Culture Shock Upon Return.” This session was highly engaging for me and was led by Furman’s own study abroad adviser, who studied in France.
She shared mostly from her own experiences, but also incorporated a lot of research in her presentation. I really connected with the struggles she described facing after returning from abroad. Even when you're still processing your own experience, sometimes it can bring so much comfort and closure just to relate to a shared struggle or hardship with someone else.
Overall, I was impressed with the location, the sessions and the hospitality from everyone at the conference. It was completely worth the five-hour drive for me, and I would definitely attend again! I encourage any study abroad returnees, whether you're a CEA Ambassador or not, to check out this conference and attend one near you!
Anastasia is a CEA Ambassador who went abroad to Granada in Spring 2018.
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