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Alumni Spotlight

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Alumni Spotlight: Anna Wojciechowski - Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Dublin

Alumni Spotlight: Anna Wojciechowski - Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Dublin




Anna Wojciechowski grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Growing up, her first taste of the world was through going on cruises with her family. Her brother has played travel hockey for more than 13 years, so she had plenty of long car rides across the U.S. during her childhood. She has known since fourth grade that she wanted to go to France, so she started studying French in high school, and went to Paris for a semester program with CEA in Fall '19.

WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU STUDY ABROAD? 

I studied abroad in a faculty-led program to Aix-en-Provence in Summer ‘18, on a CEA Semester program in Paris Fall ‘19, and a virtual internship with CEA Dublin Summer ‘20. 

WHY DID YOU WANT TO STUDY ABROAD? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO STUDY ABROAD? 

I had known since the fourth grade that I wanted to go to France. I had a fascination with the Eiffel Tower, which is funny now because I have a terrible fear of heights and HATE going up in the Eiffel Tower. While some students choose U.S. institutions due to their academic programs or sports teams, I intentionally toured and applied to institutions based on their study abroad offerings. 



WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED OR CAN REMEMBER FROM YOUR PROGRAM? 

Sureness in myself! I think American society under values self-care and spending time by yourself. We are always expected to be “on” and spending time with others. French society values enjoying a coffee by yourself in the café, positioning seats to face the sidewalks to people watch, and more. This cultural difference allowed me so much self-discovery during my time in France but has also allowed me to maintain a healthy self-care routine since returning home. When I moved out to Phoenix for a career at CEA, I was able to discover some of my favorite spots on my own again because I no longer feel tied to the stigma you have to go out with others. 



IF YOU COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE ABROAD, WHAT WOULD THE TITLE BE? 

Hip Hip Hure: The Joys and Culture Shocks of Studying Abroad – Hure is the boulangerie not far from the CEA Center in Paris and is a place where I had a lot of time to think and reflect on my program experiences. 



HOW DID YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE IMPACT YOUR INITIAL JOB SEARCH (RÉSUMÉ, COVER LETTER, INTERVIEWS)? WHAT HARD AND SOFT SKILLS FROM STUDY ABROAD HELPED YOU LAND YOUR JOB? 

Studying abroad changed EVERYTHING! I loved every element of all my experiences with international education during my undergraduate, but the attention to this element at the end of my virtual internship was instrumental. Our final project was to articulate how and what we had learned, both in hard and soft skills. I had never been much of a public speaker before this, but the final project gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in interviews, and later down the line giving presentations to our current students. 

HOW DID YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE SHAPE YOUR CAREER GOALS? WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR CAREER TODAY? YOUR TRAJECTORY? 

Before I studied and interned abroad, I think the expectation placed on me, like many studying in a foreign language exclusively, was to go into teaching. Studying and interning abroad allowed me to explore not just one, but multiple different avenues I could go down outside of teaching. 

DID YOU EXPERIENCE CULTURE/REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK, AND IF SO, HOW DID YOU COMBAT IT? 

The biggest culture shock and reverse culture shock was adjusting my diet as I transitioned between countries. 



WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDY OR INTERN ABROAD STUDENTS?

Take advantage of your study abroad resources! Working here at CEA now, I realize how silly I was to think I had to do everything with pre-departure planning on my own instead of checking in with the Site Specialist Team.



ARE YOU STILL IN CONTACT WITH ANY OF YOUR CEA FRIENDS, PEERS, OR COLLEAGUES FROM STUDY ABROAD? 

Yes! I talk to my friends and peers often but have been unable to connect with them in person during COVID-19 times. It has been great to come onto the team as a site specialist and have the privilege to work alongside the Dublin team I interned with. 



WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED OR OVERCAME DURING YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE? 

Studying abroad in Fall ‘19 and watching as the students right after me were forced to come home due to COVID-19 really challenged me. I felt a lot of guilt for having such an amazing experience and watching that alter drastically for other students. I felt isolated beyond belief, having gone from travelling Europe to being at home. It forced me to get creative and pushed me towards pursuing the virtual internship as a positive outlet for the pent-up international education energy I had. 



WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD FROM YOUR HOST CITY? WHERE WAS YOUR FAVORITE SPOT TO SPEND TIME ALONE OR JUST YOUR OVERALL FAVORITE PLACE IN THE CITY? 

My favorite overall foods in Paris would be duck and cheeses, my favorite cheese being Port Salut. My favorite restaurant in Paris is Auto Passion in the 14th near my CEA Apartment, which is a car themed restaurant. My favorite food recommendation in Aix-en-Provence would have to be their bagel stores! I was telling a student about them recently, but I love the bagel sandwiches they make and think they are a great lunch price value for students. 


Taylor Coulson is the Copywriter and Content Coordinator.
 
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