Through my CEA Alumni Ambassador position, I was lucky enough to hear about a conference called Lessons from Abroad, which has locations all over the country. Last week, I attended the one held at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. I did not know what to expect, and was nervous but excited. It reminded me of the feelings I had before I studied abroad in Paris! I was already beginning to reminisce on my experience abroad, which is exactly what the day is about.
The day was set up in different speaker sessions, with breaks in between for eating and networking. Guest speakers discussed topics such as re-entry, how to reflect your abroad experience on your resume and in interviews, and how to go abroad again through school or work opportunities. There were also great resources available, such as professionals to review resumes and photographers to take LinkedIn pictures.
I learned a lot about myself, and how my study abroad experience affected me in ways I didn’t even realize. I never thought about the commonality of re-entry and the experiences associated with it. Coming back from studying abroad was such a roller coaster of emotions: being happy to see family and old friends, then missing my new friends and all the amazing places I had been. I felt very confused and lonely at times because of it, and it was such a relief to realize that I was not alone. It was so reassuring to discuss it with others and meet people who were experiencing similar things.
This conference helped me think about what I want to do post-grad, and how I will fit study abroad into my future. It led me to solidify my decision to pursue a career that is related to study abroad, because I know it is something I want to remain relevant in my life, and this conference showed me ways in which it is possible. From graduate schools abroad, to teaching abroad, to working in a campus study abroad office, I see there are so many opportunities out there, and I was grateful to be able to discuss it with those who had been there and done it. It was amazing to be in a room full of people as passionate about study abroad as I was, and I would recommend the experience to anyone who feels a strong connection to their study abroad experience.
Alexis O'Sullivan is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Paris, France, during the Spring 2019 semester. She is currently a student at Marist College.
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