CEA Directory

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Alex Apelt

Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

The program has definitely made me realize how much I enjoy speaking and learning other languages. I've lived in many places and traveled quite a bit but Barcelona was by far one of the most linguistically diverse cities I've ever been in; I spoke English with my roommates, Spanish on the street, Italian at the pizzeria, German with my friends, and tried my best to speak Arabic with all the Moroccans.

2. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

The most important step if you're completely new to a language is to simply learn basic pronunciation for the first week to ensure that if you read something for the first time you'll be saying it correctly. After that, you really just need to speak fearlessly. Don't worry about antagonizing the locals or embarrassing yourself, you can't learn a language if you don't try.
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Alexandra Grundy

Alumni Ambassador

1. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

Before coming to Prague, I was scared. I didn't want to admit it, but I was nervous about being so far away from home. However, after a week into my program, I loved it. I adapted easily, and the cultural differences I saw were refreshing. I loved learning about the culture in every place I visited throughout the semester. I saw that, although each is different, there is a universal language spoken around the world. My study abroad experience has taught me that the world is not so big.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

My study abroad experience sparked a sense of adventure in me. This has impacted my life, academic, and career goals, because I am no longer afraid of the obstacles that stand in the way of my success. Instead, I am excited for the challenges that face me, because I know they will help me continue to grow into a better person. Studying abroad has introduced me to many different opportunities. It helped me better understand what I want to do in life, and how I can make my goals into reality. I now have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish. My sense of adventure also translates to optimism, happiness, and confidence. Along with those positive gains, my study abroad experience has also taught me to give back. Because of this semester, I was able to choose an academic and career path in psychology, which will allow me to help others. I know that my experience will stay with me once I return home, and continue to bring new joys into my life.

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Alexis Gilbert

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

When traveling abroad, remember: Have a travel companion, find a respectable hostel, map out the area around, exchange currency, and inform your parents, program advisors, and roommates of planned whereabouts.

Because many students abroad do not have international service and use Wi-Fi for their means of communication, it is important to locate coffee shops where you can check in with your family and plan the directions for your day. Always know the exchange rate, have your currency needs taken care of before you leave, and bring a few bills of your host country’s current to avoid mishaps when traveling between the two cities. Always be aware of your surroundings when traveling between countries and be courteous and adaptable to the social norms. Last, but not least, take pictures and enjoy yourself within the new cities that you will be exploring. Make sure to pick up a small souvenir, like a postcard, from each place that you travel to so that you can always have those memories with you.

2. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

My study abroad experience has taught me that there is more to the world than I am accustomed to. I travel frequently within the United States, but always knew that there was something much greater outside of my country’s borders. Not knowing much about the city of Prague, I was intrigued and excited to be exploring this country and the areas around it. I have traveled to many places over the months, and the most important things that I have learned is to take risks, show compassion, and work hard to achieve my goals. I have always reminded myself to have faith in my aspirations/dreams, but these ideas have become more prevalent since I began traveling outside of the Czech Republic. I have learned humility when encountering foreign travelers because we have been in their shoes while exploring new cities, trying to navigate and find a common language within the barriers with those who we might encounter.

This entire experience has opened my eyes to opportunities and revealed how similar we all are, no matter where we are in the world. I was accepted by others, and realized that we all share more similarities than differences within cultures. We each want to achieve success and live our passions. My experience abroad has helped me mature emotionally, culturally, and intellectually.

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Alivia Lee

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?  

My study abroad experience has given me more drive than I ever thought possible. While I was abroad I was constantly looking at the cultures I was immersed in and thinking to myself, “Wow, I’ve never been so inspired.” Being in Europe really showed me what I want to do with my life. I am an international Business major so I have always been interested with working internationally, but, after studying abroad, my passion has grown immensely. I saw what my potential life could be. I pictured myself working for International companies such as Zara and Adidas. On my plane ride home I reflected on my trip and I promised myself to work harder and longer so that I could make this life I experienced for 5 weeks my future life. Seeing the world taught me to dream big and I am forever thankful for that.

2. What were your favorite spots in the city?

I visited Barcelona for 5 weeks this past summer, and everything in sight was nothing short of amazing. This question is particularly hard because it’s Barcelona! How can I narrow it down in 200 words? There was one site we visited that completely took our breath away. My roommates and I were simply looking for a little hike on a Thursday night, completely unaware of the magic we were about to see. The place we went was called Bunker Hill, or Bunker del Carmel. We took a taxi to the point where the taxi was no longer able to go past and we walked the rest of the way up. We soon were surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere. Everywhere around us was full of people, conversations, music, and food. From the top of Bunker Hill we could look out and see all of Barcelona. This wonderful atmosphere continued and only got better as the sun set. The sky then turned into millions of sparkling lights from the city lights to the stars. It was a simple spot full of beautiful views and good people.
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Amanda Citrenbaum

Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

Studying abroad has influenced me to apply to graduate programs that offer a dual teaching credential in Social Science and Spanish language. I feel as if I have achieved enough of a mastery of the language to teach it, which is something I never would have thought possible had I not travelled to Spain and become a part of my program.

2. How has this study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has encouraged my interests in world history and helped me feel significantly more confident in speaking other languages. While I became fluent in Spanish, I was equally surrounded by students speaking Catalan, Italian, Japanese, and German. Observing the ease of transition that each person had when switching to Spanish helped encourage me to do the same, and eventually become a more confident person both in my social life and in speaking Spanish to native speakers.

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Amanda Platt

Alumni Ambassador
*Ask me about internships!

1. How has your internship abroad shaped you?

Through my study abroad and internship experience, I have learned to be flexible and adaptable, think globally, and be prepared to work in a multicultural setting. I also improved my Spanish language skills. I have learned the importance of taking initiative and finding my own sense of internal motivation. It was a big challenge for me to see other Spanish interns understand things and perform at a higher level than me, building trust faster, developing relationships, handling tasks with more proficiency. It was hard on my self-esteem at first, but then I remembered that it was I who had put myself in another culture, willing to challenge my sense of comfort and confidence. I know that if the Spanish interns had come to work in the United States, they would be struggling just as much. Therefore, I've built a stronger sense of self-confidence, a higher tolerance for ambiguity, communicative awareness, and a deeper sense of empathy for second language learners and those who travel to foreign countries to live and work.

2. What has your internship experience taught you?

Despite cultural differences, potential language barriers, and the geographical distance that separates us, I have learned that people all around the world are generally the same: we all experience the same emotions, fears, insecurities, and need for a sense of belonging. People from all over the world are eager to learn and make new connections. I remember being nervous before this trip that people would make negative judgements and stereotypes about me because I was American, and that has not been the case at all. At my internship in Seville, many of my co-workers had little to no exposure to foreign elements and people, and yet they welcomed me with open arms, warm hearts, lots of curiosity, and endless patience.

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Angus O'Donnell

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has this study abroad experience shaped you?
Study abroad was a massive personal growth experience in so many ways. Transplanting myself into a foreign country felt like leaving for freshman year of college again. There was so much to do and see and so many opportunities, but there was also the sense of needing to rely on myself to navigate this new place full of strangers. CEA did a great job of offering support without being overbearing, and it allowed me to really become who I am now. When I came back, I had attained a much greater level of confidence and self-reliance and a greater enthusiasm for the unknown. I feel that my experiences abroad have not only made me a better candidate as I now try and find my first real job but a better person as a whole.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

It is absolutely one of the best things that a student can do during their college career, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Getting out and seeing a different side of the world will not only inspire you to try new things, but give you a greater appreciation for home. You will learn about yourself and grow far more than you can imagine possible, all while earning credits toward your degree. Anything you might be afraid to leave behind will still be there for you in 4 months, but the chances to go and immerse yourself in a different country as a student are rare.

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Anna Pazderska

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Studying abroad has taught me to be more open to new opportunities and perspectives. Prior to going to Europe, I had mixed feelings about traveling on my own, and felt nervous about what to expect during my travels. An important and life changing lesson that I learned was to take risks and step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes my doubts or worries turned out to be the best decisions I’ve made, and made my experience worth it in the end. Seeing how far I could push myself was new, yet refreshing. Ultimately, experiencing a new culture, challenges, and traveling has made me more self-aware and taught me that I can gain a lot by taking chances.

2. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

My time in Spain has opened my eyes to a variety of people, who have so much knowledge and advice to share with others. Having great, meaningful conversations with people has shifted the way I think about the rest of the world. We are all searching for our passions and adventures, and getting different perspectives has convinced me that we should not be afraid to take chances. We learn a lot from others, and eventually the advice we take in leads us to grow on our own in the end.

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Annie Friesen

Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class was Travel Writing for many reasons. The professor was so enthusiastic about both the subject and Prague, which made learning enjoyable. We learned different styles of travel writing including feature stories, blogs, and guidebook entries, and we got to write about our adventures all over Prague and Europe. My professor loved Prague and wanted us to experience some of his favorite parts, so, every once in a while, he’d take us to a local pub for beer and a discussion. As a journalism major, I got to experiment with different types of writing which I’d never gotten to try before.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

You only get this opportunity once. It’s one thing to travel the world for fun, but to live in a foreign country and immerse yourself in the culture through your classes is completely different. The city you decide to study abroad in will become your home away from home and a place you’ll always want to go back and visit. You will meet people from all over the world and make friends with Study Abroad students from all over America. School will be so different from any school you’ve ever gone to before, and you will love it. You’ll get to see the world, but you’ll also transform into a local as you explore your city. Don’t let fear, worry, or cost deter you from having this kind of experience. If you’re worried about the cost, apply for scholarships. There are a ton of them out there! Studying abroad will change your life, and I can promise that you will never regret it. Go out and see the world!

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Anthony Rotolo

Alumni Insider
*Ask me about Internships!
1. What are your best language tips? 
I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and never once felt confident conversing in the language. After one semester studying Italian in Florence, Italy, I am very confident in my Italian language skills and am comfortable walking into a conversation in Italian! Learning a language in a place where that language is the primary spoken language is 10x easier than learning it in a classroom in the States. Every day after walking out of class you can practice what you learned with locals. You need to learn how to read signs and store names in Italian to get by. Your mind is not only thinking about the language while you are in class, it is thinking about it everywhere you go every day. I also practiced Italian at my internship abroad and with my family in Southern Italy who spoke no English! By the end of the semester I was so comfortable in Italian that during my travels after I met Italians and carried conversations solely in Italian! I am amazed by how well I learned Italian while abroad and now I plan to continue with more classes at my home institution!

2. What would you say if you had 60 seconds to convince a friend to study abroad?
Study abroad! Just do it! There are certain times in your life when you can do something huge that can have a lasting impact on your life, and this is one of those times. There is a saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I have heard this in a different context that I prefer more: “When you are young you have the time and desire to do things, but you don't have the money. When you enter the real world, you have the money and desire to do things but you don't have the time. When you are old you have the money and the time, but you don't have the desire to do them anymore.” Looking at the world we live in, I see this to be true in many cases. If you are fortunate enough to have the financial ability to study abroad, you need to take advantage of the opportunity. Before you know it, you will be working a full-time job and your time might be completely consumed. This experience will open your mind to the different possibilities of life in this world! This experience taught me that the saying I mentioned before, about youth being wasted on the young, is not true in all cultures. It opened my mind to the possibility of a different lifestyle. It sprouted new career ideas in my mind that I had never thought of before and helped me to abandon many skewed views I had on the world! When else in your life are you going to have the opportunity to live in another country for months at a time! Some people might have that opportunity later in life, but for most of us this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There is a difference between traveling among foreign countries and living in one! Study abroad, it will change your life!
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Brooke Howard

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Studying abroad is the chance of a lifetime. You get to experience something that many people only dream about: traveling the world. 

And not only do you get to visit beautiful places and meet amazing people, you also have the opportunity to better yourself as a whole. 

Studying abroad made me globally aware, more comfortable in my skin, and confident in my ability to adapt. It taught me to welcome new environments and embrace different cultures and people, an important skill for professional success. It’s an opportunity for a unique educational experience that will definitely set you apart from others in your career field. 

Although it may be scary to leave home and what feels familiar, I promise you adjust, adapt, and fall in love with being abroad. I strongly believe that studying abroad will benefit and impact you for the rest of your life. It changed my outlook on life by helping me become more positive, open, and social in every aspect. I am forever grateful for my abroad adventures and urge you to explore both the world, and yourself.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

These travel tips will help you adventure both safely and skillfully, while helping you get the most out of your study abroad experience!

A. Always be aware of your environment
-Petty theft is real; keep an eye on your valuables!
-It’s a good idea to get a cross body bag, spy belt, or some type of wallet that can be easily hidden to protect you from thieves.
-Pro Tip: Never keep ANYTHING in your back pocket! 

B. Take full advantage of your resources! 
-It never hurts to ask someone in CEA if they’ve been where you are planning to go. Most of the time they know the “local” or “hidden” gems that you’ll definitely want to check out! And if not, they’re more than willing to help you find the “must-sees” of your future destination. 

C. Enjoy EVERY minute! 
-Going abroad is the experience of a lifetime that goes by too fast; make the most of it! 
-Be proactive and make a bucket list of everywhere you want to go so you can plan your weekends accordingly. 
-It’s true when they say time flies when you’re having fun!

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Celene Haque

Alumni Ambassador

1. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

In Italy my house visited 200Centigrade almost every day! They make the best panino that we found in Rome, and it's never more than 5 euros! Make sure to get something with prosciutto!

In Prague you have to go to the top of the Klementium, you will never see a better view in your life! Even if you are afraid of heights, you don't want to miss it!

In France there is a small street in the 12th arondissmont called Rue Crémieux. It is the most colorful street in Paris and tucked away so that it's not crowded with tourists. There's usually only a few locals that walk down the street and that's just because they live there.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

I always wanted to travel, and I thought that perhaps I would be done after studying abroad, that's absolutely not the case! I want to travel so much more! I tried to extend my stay after my program was over so that I could travel by myself. I think I am a lot more open and outgoing because I studied abroad. It taught me to come out of my shell, to be more adventurous, and to live more in the moment. It taught me things that I will implement in my life even after going home.

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Chandler Stroh

Alumni Insider
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
I think of Italy in each passing day. I crave my favorite meals. I dream of walking the streets. Though I can't say that my life is vastly different than it would have been if I hadn't made the choice to go, I can say that my desire to travel is stronger than it ever would have been. I know how traveling can teach you about yourself. I know how it can give you confidence and independence. So the itch to leave and see new places is not a feeling from which I will shy away.

2. What advice do you have for others?
- Jump at exciting opportunities, even if they scare the crap out of you. 
- Take lots of photos despite what people around you might think. You’ll cherish them later. 
- Time passes way too quickly. Make sure you always stop to smell the pasticcino.
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Charlie Friedfeld

Alumni Ambassador
*Ask me about internships!

1. How has this internship abroad shaped you?
My time abroad made me a better version of myself. It allowed me to see things from a different perspective and be open to new experiences. Before interning in Barcelona, I had no idea what to expect, besides eating dinner much later than the typical American. It was unbeknownst to me that the people of Barcelona speak very little English. I mostly learned this the hard way, particularly when I was trying to explain what happened to my cell phone to an Apple employee, and there was an obvious language barrier. At this moment, I was resourceful, and I brought back the Spanish-speaking skills I had learned in 9th grade. My abroad experience challenged me to go out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to resolve small problems on my own, and most importantly, it required me to be completely independent. It was difficult for me to adjust to the culture at first, but I made small steps and was soon able to assimilate. By the second week of the program, I fell in love with Barcelona. By the fourth week of the program, I was comfortable with the native friends I made. By the last week of the program, I was living up every opportunity I got, as well as thinking about the next time I’ll be in Barcelona.

2. How has your internship experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

My internship abroad experience had an extremely positive impact on my life. I was able to immerse myself in Spanish culture by creating lasting relationships with my internship supervisor and co-workers. I attended many dinners at my co-workers’ apartments and was able to participate in Spanish conversation. My experience abroad has led me to seek job offers in Barcelona for the upcoming year. I have been in touch with many CEA advisors, along with many of the people I became close with in Barcelona. If I end up staying in the United States, I plan to use the work techniques I gained abroad and incorporate them into the American way of doing things. For example, I enjoyed the laid-back work environment and the personable connections employees made with each other in Barcelona. If I stay in America, I will make sure to implement these qualities into my everyday life.

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Chloe Jacobs

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

It will change you in the best way possible. Around every corner there is a learning opportunity that exists outside the classroom. There is a difference between vacationing somewhere and traveling there on your own. Staying in hostels, going to grocery stores, and finding local hang outs are all a part of learning about the world in YOUR OWN WAY. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I remember that, when I arrived in Prague, I had no idea what to expect. When we got there and stood on the beautiful Charles Bridge, however, I felt so happy and full of life. I couldn’t wait to walk around Prague Square, attempt to talk to locals, and eat the food. Every place you go becomes a part of you. It will be the best adventure of your life. You will broaden your world, your culture, and discover things about yourself you would didn’t know because you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class was definitely Spanish, because my teacher made it fun. We were constantly speaking with each other and to her, and she really enjoyed her job and teaching Spanish. Another reason I loved the class so much was because it was filled with international students from all over the world. I made friends from Canada, Kazakhstan, and Romania, and got to know more about their home country through the class and discussions.
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Christina Barnes

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

The best advice I could ever give someone about learning a new language is practice fearlessly. During my time abroad, I limited my own improvement because I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I would always get stuck on vocab or conjugations and halt the whole conversation just trying to figure out the past imperfect of “vivir.” This was totally counterproductive and eventually the person I was speaking to would give up and try to guess what I was saying or worse, speak to me in English. Learning my language fearlessly would have been holding longer conversations with my host mom. Engaging fearlessly would have been going to more places where there were more locals than Americans. Persisting fearlessly would be skipping over a word and powering through the conversation. Even if the syntax is horrible, locals understand what you are saying 99% of the time. However, if they don’t, you can try your hand at explaining yourself a different way. The scary thing was choosing to go abroad in the first place. If you can commit to living your life abroad, then being fearless in learning that language is more than possible.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

-Never pay for taxis. A lot of the smaller cities are incredibly walkable and the ones that aren’t have really extensive and inexpensive public transportation systems. Learn how to navigate them.
-Pay the extra money for the places you are staying. The last thing you want after a long day of being on your feet is to walk 40 minutes to your Airbnb because it was the cheaper choice. It’s better for your overall experience if you’re staying closer to the action, even if it means spending a few more bucks.
-Look for places that have a kitchen. Yes, you’ll want to eat out, but, after a few $15 meals, your wallet won’t let you. In moments like those, a kitchen will save you since you can just swing by the local grocery store and DIY with some pasta and tomato sauce.
-Pay for tours. You’ll really appreciate having somebody else organize your day of tourism for you, and oftentimes you get access to skip the line passes which are much appreciated.

 

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Christina Filipovich

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

My study abroad experience has definitely changed me into a better-rounded individual. I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad since high school, but you never really know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re actually there. Since I arrived in the Czech Republic, I’ve had obstacles thrown at me. Learning a different language, being in a new city, and making new friends could have been very stressful. One of the most important things I’ve learned here is to take life by stride and be independent. Back at my home university, I lived a comfortable life. I knew my campus, I knew who my friends were, and I knew what every single day would look like. Moving to a foreign country for a semester changed all of that. All of a sudden, I had to learn a new city. That required memorizing where I lived, how to use the public transportation, the currency exchange, and how to carry an entire bag of groceries from the grocery store back home because there wasn’t a car to drive me home anymore. I had to meet new people and I had to adhere to a new language that. But all of these things shaped me into a better-cultured person. Now, I know Prague like the back of my hand. I can navigate its public transportation, I know the value of the dollar, and I know that shopping more frequently is better because you don’t have to carry as much back home. I’ve made friends from across the world, and have learned bits and pieces of a new language. Studying abroad has changed me for the better, and I am eternally grateful for all the experiences I’ve had because of it.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

If I had 60 seconds to convince a friend to study abroad, I would tell them about all of the wonderful experiences they would have. From traveling all over the world, to meeting the most incredible people, to learning new languages and absorbing new cultures, studying abroad can influence anyone’s life. While in Europe, traveling between countries is very inexpensive. Buses, trains, and planes are all available for you to get wherever you need to be. I cannot stress enough how amazing it has been to visit places I never could’ve dreamed of seeing. From swimming in the bluest waters of Split, Croatia, to eating homemade pasta and buying leather goods in Florence, to visiting the castles and historical sites of Poland, I’ve seen places I never thought possible. As you immerse yourself in these new cultures and new places, you meet people from all over the world as well as locals. These people can become lifelong friends, or have connections who can help you in your future career. You never know who you’re going to meet while you’re abroad. Living abroad, you can pick up new languages or increase your language skills. My knowledge of the Russian language helped me so much while living in the Czech Republic, but I also picked up some Czech just by taking public transportation or going to the grocery store. My experiences abroad have changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I truly believe everyone should be able to do the same.

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Daniella Schuh

Alumni Ambassador

1. What surprised you the most about your host city and culture?

The rich culture in Seville, Spain surprised me. I didn't know much about Spanish culture until I came to Seville and saw the traditional flamenco dances, tried amazing tapas, experienced Spanish holidays, and interacted with many locals. It's quite the experience to embrace a new culture for 4 months and learn more about what the typical Sevillanos lifestyle is. I loved seeing how close people are in Seville. They maintain very close relationships with one another and have long lasting friendships. Walking around, I rarely saw people alone. They love company and surrounding themselves with family and friends. This ties into why there is barely any personal space in Seville. People walk and stand close to one another all the time. When you compare this culture to the culture in America that we have experienced for 20 years of our lives, it can be uncomfortable for some people or hard to get used to. However, I had no problem adjusting to this new culture and the new lifestyle I would be a part of. A surprising thing for me was how late people ate dinner, which was 10 to 11 p.m. People of all ages were out until 12 a.m. at the earliest, finishing dinner or listening to music at bars and restaurants. Seville is different from other parts of Spain because of the authentic culture you embrace and traditional Spanish language you hear and speak.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

My study abroad experience has made me a better-rounded person and given me an appreciation for the things I have in my life. I have travelled to many different places abroad, not only in Europe, but also in Africa. Visiting these places teaches you so much about other countries and people around the world. With each country I visited, I stepped back and thought about certain things I would change or embrace about myself because of what I saw or felt from the people living in these places. I also came across some challenges and opportunities while traveling that helped me discover who I am as a person. Meeting people from other cultures and places taught me that the way I have been looking at the world isn’t the way everybody else does. It changed my perspective on certain viewpoints and gave me a sense of reality. Studying abroad in Seville has also made me become way better at speaking Spanish and communicating with people on many different levels. Coming from a Colombian culture and background, I never really knew how different Spaniards speak Spanish. I learned that there are about 4 different languages within Spain and many authentic accents of the Spanish language. Studying abroad and travelling helped me open my eyes and shaped me into a better citizen of the world.

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Danielle Porter

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

Whether you’re learning Spanish for the first time or you’re advanced, I have a couple of tips for you that helped me learn Spanish while I was in Spain. First, speak the language wherever you go. I lived with my host mom and she only spoke Spanish. Whenever my friends and I went for coffee and tapas we would order in Spanish even if they tried to speak to us in English. Second, CEA has a great intercambio program and the other universities usually have them as well. Take advantage of getting your personal one-on-one session that will help you learn Spanish as you help them with their English. Last, but not least, have fun! Dance to Spanish music and learn the lyrics, meet new people and hangout, and watch your favorite Netflix show or movie in Spanish. You’re in Spain, so do as the Spaniards!

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

This was the first time I had traveled out of the United States, and I was so nervous at first. Then, I fell in love with everything that I was seeing. Things that I had been worried about before seemed so insignificant in comparison. It gave me time to reevaluate my goals and what I want to do in the future. I’m a double major in Psychology and Spanish, and, after this experience, I’ve decided I want to come back to Spain and possibly teach English before going to graduate school. I loved the Spanish language and culture and realized I wanted to become fluent and gain firsthand experience working in a different country.

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Dayyana Ibragimova

Alumni Insider

1. How has this study abroad experience shaped you?
Studying abroad has shaped me in so many ways! First and foremost, it helped me be more open-minded. Seeing and experiencing different cultures made me realize that there is a lot more to life than the little bubble I lived in. Cultural differences are not weird or irrelevant; they shape who we are. Just because someone else acts or talks differently than me does not make them strange, and that is so cool.

During the CEA trip to Morocco, I saw a completely different culture for the first time in my life. I saw women wearing hijabs, ate delicious lunch at a local family’s house, and rode camels. Those are experiences I had only because I studied abroad.

I learned how to plan trips and be more independent, which are important life-skills I can implement in my life beyond this semester!

2. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?
I studied Spanish while abroad, so I tried to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. I went to salsa classes, intercambios (where you get to meet Spaniards in spots like the LemonRock Café and practice Spanish, while they practice English), watched movies and TV shows in Spanish with Spanish subtitles on Netflix, and listened to Latin American music!

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Diana Kirori

Alumni Ambassador

1. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

My personal experience abroad taught me that, although we are over 4,000 miles apart, we share many of the same things. We may eat different things and speak different languages than other countries, but when it comes down to it, it is about the person. The rest of the world seemed just as excited to learn about my culture, as I was to learn about theirs. My experience taught me that the world is either one big adventure, or it is nothing at all. It is important to take things as they come, especially when traveling the world. What happens to you, makes you who you are today. I learned to accept the things I cannot change and enjoy everything else.

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

One of the best views that everyone raves about in Madrid is at Circulo de Bellas Artes! In addition to a great view, they have great food and drinks. It is definitely a must do, even if you're in Madrid for a short time. When it comes to fun, there is nothing that compares to a Real Madrid game. Every person in the stadium is there to have a good time and watch even better soccer. This coming together of so many people for the game is a prime example of Spain's culture.

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Elizabeth Stewart

Alumni Ambassador
1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Studying abroad with CEA opens the door to a whole new world, both literally and figuratively. Being a university student is one of the few times that you will have the opportunity to live abroad without any major conflicting responsibilities. There is a huge world out there, and who knows what you may learn when you go see it? Not only does going abroad yield the opportunity to travel, but you have the chance to make great friends along the way. If not now, when?


2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

Studying abroad has solidified my passion for world cultures, relations and international politics. It has given me the confidence to pursue dreams of working in international policy and affairs, and has also revealed to me what it means to be a world citizen. Through studying abroad, I have learned to expand my mind, think critically, and embrace challenges.

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Emily Corcoran

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad?

Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

The best part about studying abroad is having the ability to travel and the freedom to just book a flight wake up and go! My top travel trips are to always try everything, some of the cities you will visit will be like places you have never seen before. Before you say no to a different fish or a classic french meal be open minded and try everything because more than likely you're going to love it! Push yourself out of your comfort zone, go to places you have never heard of, being uncomfortable is how you grow. Try to interact and meet local people in the different cities you visit, they are so excited you are there and want to share their favorite restaurant and little kept secrets of their home city. Finally go site seeing, each city has its own beautiful kept land mark or piece of history, book tours and go site seeing.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?    

CEA offered multiple courses that I was interested in but my favorite class was "Intercultural Interactions: A Psychological Perspective”. When I first entered the classroom on our first day of classes I did not know what to expect from this class, although I had read the course description and the syllabus I was unaware that this class would have taught me one of the most valuable lessons while I was abroad. This class not only taught me how to adjust to new cultures and then readjust upon my return back to the United States, but this course taught me so much about different cultures around the world. During my semester in Spain and in this class we focused on the refugee crisis, the cultural divides, and overall how to be the best "sojourner" we could be. This course helped me become more open-minded, more aware of myself and my surroundings, and opened my eyes to a whole different view of the world. This course allowed me to truly make the best of my study abroad experience.

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Ethan Beseris

Alumni Ambassador
1. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! Future study abroad students should not miss them:

It's no secret that Italians love to eat, but you can't experience Italian food culture without participating in an "aperitivo." These are a ritualistic prelude to a large meal but can sometimes last 1-2 hours. It was the perfect place to socialize with friends and meet locals. Another can't-miss food experience in Florence is Panini Toscani, located right in the historic Piazza dell Duomo. This sandwich shop has no menu; instead, their friendly staff offers a sample of all their meats and cheeses and lets the customer build their own panini from their favorite combinations. It's not only a great opportunity to taste the best Italian deli food but also to learn about where the food comes from and how each region handles its preparation.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?
As a result of my experiences abroad, I have been inspired to lead a more simplistic lifestyle. When I left for Europe, I carried nothing but my backpack and a pocketful of euros. I traveled on trains, stayed in hostels, and ate my meals on the city streets of Italy. I had virtually nothing, yet my time there was one of the happiest periods of my life because I learned to take pleasure from experiences, not possessions. This transformation of thought was, in part, influenced by the Italian culture. I learned from the Italian lifestyle and took more joy in the simple, every day happenings of my study abroad experience. Still today my favorite memories from my trip are the afternoons I would relax by the Arno River or lounge in the shade of a nearby church. Since returning home, I have begun searching for times where I can be with my friends and enjoy life with them because that is what brings me fulfillment. Italy taught me to derive my happiness from my present state of being, and it's a lesson that I will never forget.
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Gabriele Litkauskaite

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

I’ve always imagined that I would study abroad. While in high school, my teachers described their own travel experiences, and I thought study abroad would be an amazing opportunity. However, when the time came to apply, I wasn’t sure if I would be a great fit. But here I am now, enjoying it more than I ever knew would be possible! As a very determined double major, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a program that would help me complete both of my majors on time. With the help of my advisers and the study abroad office at DePaul University, I was able to find a program that fit my needs perfectly, in a country that I had always wanted to visit. While in Madrid for three months, I was enrolled in three Spanish classes and a Political Science class that both fascinated me and made me work harder than ever. I even practiced speaking Spanish in the classroom. As for my future, I don’t yet know where it will take me. The more of the world I see, the more I realize that majoring in Political Sciences and Spanish has been the right choice for me, as I am closer to my goal of working in the Foreign Service. Nevertheless, there is still so much to learn from the world and all the opportunities that are waiting to be discovered!

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

The brilliance of Madrid is that the city is at your fingertips. Embrace all that it has to offer and let the Metra take you on a journey through one Madrid stop after the other. One thing that you cannot miss is taking a Salsa/Bachata class at CoCo Bongo every Monday night. While you will be fully immersed in learning about Latin Dance, you will also be meeting other students from all over the world! It’s a great opportunity to branch out and surround yourself by La Vida Madrileña! After the lesson, grab your new friends and head over to Chocolatería San Ginés, because churros taste the best with a hot chocolate, a good group of friends, and a full night of dancing!

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Grace Economou

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:      

Travel as much as possible! During the six short weeks I lived in Granada, Spain, a small group of friends and I had traveled to eight different cities. We watched the sunrise as we hiked the Sierra Nevada mountains, we ate gazpacho and tapas from the top of an old Moorish fortress, we watched the sunset on the Mediterranean Sea from the sandy shore of Mallorca, and so much in between. 

Travel like a local! I assumed trains were the best mode of transportation, but my host family said “que tonta” and told me to take the bus. And I am grateful I listened because they knew best. The bus system was high quality, very affordable, and went everywhere I wanted to go. 

Traveling does not have to mean hours away! To “travel” can be as close as one bus stop outside the city limits. In countries where the history dates back thousands of years, a couple miles can make the world of a difference in food, language, and culture. 

And, of course, pack light! Waiting at baggage check for over an hour for a backpack of clothes that were never worn is a mistake I made only once.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?  

I am a computer science major minoring in business. Since high school, I have been STEM-focused. I took the bare minimum amount of course credits for English, Spanish and History. I taught myself Java so I could take a higher-level programming class. In study hall, I was almost always tutoring students in math. Then in college, the worst case scenario occurred: I needed to take two semesters of Spanish. 

The Spanish 230 in Granada, Spain program was perfect for me. It satisfied both semesters of Spanish, my most dreaded graduation requirement, and I fulfilled my lifelong dream of studying abroad. I was elated when I found out that I would be traveling to Spain for the spring semester. But I was also excited to know that I would never have to take a Spanish class again.

Studying abroad with the purpose of learning Spanish was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was not stressed from trying to juggle four courses at once; I was able to focus on Spanish and commit my time to learning and studying the language. Because it was an enjoyable experience, this rigorous course instilled in me a love for Spanish—which I would not have gotten from a traditional Spanish course. I am going to carry that with me moving forward. I now jump at any opportunity to speak Spanish, and my desire to travel has only grown. In the fall, I am going to join a Spanish Conversation club; it meets weekly with the sole purpose of starting Spanish discussions. I am also going to take a Spanish culture class next Winter term, not because it is a requirement, but because I want to. And I am already planning my study abroad adventure through Asia next summer.

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Haley Moore

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

If you’re trying to learn a foreign language while you’re studying abroad, don’t be afraid to immerse yourself completely in the language! It may seem overwhelming at first, but it WILL get easier and this is the best way to learn. My CEA site and university offered “intercambios,” where you are paired with a local student. This is a great way to make local friends AND learn the language. I had a Spanish friend who I would make every attempt to speak to in Spanish, and if I made a mistake or ever had any questions I knew I could ask her for clarification. Another way I found that really helped me to improve my comprehension was to listen to reggaetón music! They speak really fast and (full disclosure) are not speaking the prim and proper way that you were probably taught. It’s a fun way to better understand colloquial Spanish. If you aren’t looking to learn Spanish, keep an ear out for what the locals listen to!

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Anyone who has lived in Spain will tell you the Spanish people live and breathe their favorite phrase: “No pasa nada” (“Don’t worry about it”). For me, as someone who makes a catastrophe of everything, this was, at first, an infuriating mindset to be living amongst. I would feel guilty for hours over forgetting to tell my host mom that I wasn’t eating dinner, but she was never upset. I would anxiously sprint to class if I was just a few minutes behind, but my professors often were usually ten minutes behind me. I would worry that the wait staff wanted us to leave if my friends and I took too long to eat, but the Spanish tend to extend meals to as long as two hours. 

After sometime around the Spanish, however, I learned that perhaps life is better if you savor it. You should never be in such a rush that you can’t stop for a café con leche. You should never be afraid of getting tapas alone (sometimes that’s the best way to do it!). Most importantly: You should never take anything too seriously. 
I used to despise eating alone, and now it’s something I enjoy. That might seem silly to some, but to me, that was huge. No, my anxiety isn’t cured, but studying abroad helped me to see that some of the daily things that I illogically worry about aren’t worth my energy. Eating alone? No pasa nada.


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Hannah Becke

Alumni Ambassador
1. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:
-Every Tuesday night, there is Karaoke at a restaurant called Barney's on the beach. 
-Incredible Indian food at a place called Raasoie. 
-Great eats at anywhere along Stanley Street. 
-Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is a must whether its rugby or soccer. 
-Addo Elephant Park is the biggest game park nearby.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?
No one can explain the feeling of finding yourself. You can't live through other people's experiences. It was the best choice I have ever made, and I'm never going to forget all the memories I made there. Home will still be here when you get back. A one week vacation to that place one day might not happen. Why not study, earn credits, and learn more because you're there for so long? Just go.
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Hannah Ginsburg

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

This summer study abroad program impacted my life in many ways. By living in London, I returned home with a greater understanding of cultural differences. I observed variances in language and enjoyed learning how to communicate effectively with the locals. I gained a greater awareness of politics and economics and how others view our country. In my class on International Media, we had an opportunity to meet and interview a recruitment executive at Google and a public relations officer for Warner Brothers. These experiences were incredible.

My study abroad experience has also greatly affected my future career goals. Regarding my Communications major, I was not completely sure of where I best make an impact with my skills. But, after this trip, I have decided that I really want to seek out a career related to travel, a job that allows me to see as much of the world as possible while still working. I also feel I can translate the adventures I had into helping others. The confidence I gained has enabled me to show others the joys of learning much more about the world beyond themselves and their homes.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?         

There is so much to say beyond 60 seconds! History. Culture. Language. It’s all waiting out there for a student to explore. The study abroad experience is not like a typical trip. You have a chance to explore the culture and lifestyle in a new place. Beyond seeing the typical attractions or sites, you get to immerse yourself in the city. Get on a bus or navigate the tube. Get to know locals. Walk the city and discover!

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Jazmine Baehr

Alumni Ambassador

*I also studied with CEA in Florence, Italy!
1. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

That the world isn't nearly as scary as the mainstream media portrays it. It's kind of like the world’s best kept secret about how truly beautiful it really is. You can go on to google and see pictures of a place but that's just seeing the surface. I assure you it's nowhere even close to how beautiful the world really is and how beautiful you begin to feel just being in its presence. It's more than just a visual thing.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

I don't know if anyone is familiar with the David Foster Wallace commencement speech from back in 2005 but he tells a story about two goldfish not knowing what water is and how it relates to humans not realizing actions we subconsciously do such as getting frustrated while waiting in line. Some people are lucky enough to have their "This is water" moment and I can honestly say that I probably wouldn't have had mine if it weren't for studying abroad. I remember being on the U Bahn after class and it was crowded and hot and I was feeling homesick and I felt frustrated about hearing German and then it hit me that I have the choice to feel this way or I can recognize that I am in one of the most historic cities in the world growing and evolving into something better than I ever dreamed I could be.

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Jeanette Burke

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?
While in Prague, I took Elementary Czech which allowed me to become more involved in the culture. If you are able to, I would highly recommend taking a class in your host country’s language. It is one of the best decisions I made during my time abroad. My tips for learning another language is to listen to the locals who are speaking around you. Get to know how the language sounds and become comfortable with it. As time goes on, you’ll be able to pick out small parts of the conversation, which always feels good. When I am at a restaurant or at a store, I always try to speak in Czech for as long as I can. This method has helped me the most because while I might not understand exactly what the other person is saying, I am able to grasp the context of the conversation, which allows me to advance my Czech. Lastly, I use the self-checkout at Tesco so that I can practice my food vocabulary. Since you have to enter the name of what produce or bakery item you’re purchasing in Czech, it helps learn those words.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad?

Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

Always make an effort to speak the country’s language: even if it’s just knowing the basics, your knowledge can go a long way. When I traveled, I made sure I knew how to say hello, goodbye, please, and thank you in the host country’s language. I could tell that the locals appreciated me taking part in their culture. 

Try to explore destinations that are more uncommon: not only will you gain amazing memories from your travels, you will also be able to save more money. I focused on staying in Central and Eastern Europe because it is my area of interest, and I had a great time. One of my favorite destinations was Kraków, Poland. 

Don’t be afraid to travel alone: there were times that I was nervous about doing a trip on my own, but I knew that I couldn’t let my fear get the best of me. Traveling on your own is one of the best experiences you can have, especially during your time abroad. Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings as always.

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Juan Mejia

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Studying abroad not only gave me connections around the world, but it helped me connect with myself. I found the true "me" while abroad for 4 months and could not be happier with what I learned about myself. I got to experience a different culture hands on and was given so many opportunities to immerse myself into it. I think studying abroad will have a lifelong impact on me, because I will always remember walking down the streets of San Jose.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

When I was abroad, I found out that I wanted to help others a lot more than I once believed I did. In the future, I plan on going back to Costa Rica & Nicaragua to teach English to the youth. It was very interesting to me that in order to get a decent job, you had to have a certain English level. I noticed that a lot of those classes were very expensive or not accessible. Therefore, I made it a goal of mine to open a non-profit organization to teach English to the people of Central America. My experience impacted my academics in a way that cannot be put into words. It made me realize we take for granted the education we get at universities in the US.

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Julia Zarella

Alumni Ambassador

1. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

My experience of studying abroad taught me that there WAS a rest of the world. I was lucky enough to experience more of the world than I have in my lifetime, visiting a total of nine countries and 22 different cities. Sometimes, I was forced out of my comfort zone; other times, I gladly broke out of my bubble. Through all of this, I was reminded that there was a world outside of my own, and it is a great one. Of course, I was always familiar with the concept of the world—that there are other people living their lives, differently but more or less the same as me, and that there are entire countries operating outside my own. I always knew that my life was not the same as others and that my world was not at the center of other people’s, but my study abroad experience made this concept real and concrete. While I would go to a water fountain or buy a bottled water at a store, Romans would be getting their water out of the city’s historic fountains. Small differences like this made the rest of the world real to me. Though I was essentially on an extended vacation, people lived in a world entirely separate from mine, and their experience was not a vacation—it was real. While we all may be familiar with this obvious-but-overwhelming concept, few get to live it.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

Traveling while abroad is no walk in the park. It’s a fast-pace hustle that is very far from lying in a beach chair, enjoying some R & R on an exotic beach somewhere—or maybe it is on Saturday, once you’ve already arrived at your destination. But when you’re trying to stay on a budget and see as much of a new city as you can between end-of-week classes on Thursday and the first day of classes on Monday, you need all the help you can get in making your travels a success. The most important tools you can rely on for smooth sailing? Google Flights, Pinterest, Lonely Planet, Airbnb, a reliable carry-on, and a shuttle system to and from the airport that you make yourself familiar with. Google Flights is the best way to search different combinations of round trip flights for the best price, allowing you to mess around with times and airport combinations. Pinterest and Lonely Planet are perfect tools to find unique ways to experience the culture of your travel destination, and Airbnb is often a better place for the same or cheaper prices than many hostels, especially if you’re traveling in groups. The Airbnb hosts are often the best resources for travel tips. I can tell an abroad student now, and they won’t listen (because I know I didn’t): Pack light. You have three days to travel, and you don’t want to be lugging a huge heavy bag around a new city. Checked bag fees are never worth it and are in place for a reason. Finally, assuming that most abroad students rely on public transportation, almost every airport offers a sort of shuttle service from a set destination to and from the airport. Get to know that service ASAP—our go-to was the Sit Bus Shuttle in Rome. Keep tabs on the schedule to ensure that you make your flights, and you’ll always have a reliable way to save money on your trips and make sure you get home.

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Julianna Matthews

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

If there was only one word I could use to describe the impact that studying abroad had on me, it would be this: Growth. That girl in the plane from a small town in New York on her way to Barcelona went through a type of metamorphosis. In the same way, a woman pregnant for the first time may pick up a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I was doing my best to get my hands on anything to prepare me for the biggest journey in my life I’d ever faced. What to anticipate, respecting new cultures, areas to steer clear from—more importantly who to steer clear from. I spent the first two weeks trying to grocery shop with limited Spanish-language skills, and booking my own flights for wherever I wanted to go in the world. It was in those first two weeks that I realized I was there—I was doing this, all on my own, thousands of miles away from my family and places I called home. The rest of my time abroad went by faster than I understand. Each day I felt myself becoming more comfortable with this new world, and how I fit into it. In the phone calls I made at three in the morning to my dad because I was stuck in some foreign airport, I felt new levels of independence. With each solo trip I planned and travelled, I surpassed my comfort zones. Through every stranger I met and through talking about everything from politics to social issues to our own differences, I realized I may be more aware of the world than I had ever been. And with every mistake I made along the way, I learned to accept that I was the only one who could solve it. These things are what I remember about being abroad most. They are what I appreciate greatest about the opportunity I was given. The one common denominator to it all is something I wouldn’t trade for any other: growth.

2. What were your favorite spots in the city?

It is difficult to choose only a few of my favorite places in Barcelona. However, if I had to, I would choose absolutely anything and everything by Gaudi first. He combines art and architecture of the Modernisme period incredibly, and made prolific impacts on the unique culture of Barcelona. While many are familiar with La Sagrada Familia and Parque Güell, I would also recommend seeing Palau Güell and Casa Batlló. The Picasso museum was also a great experience. As another artist who helped define the culture of Spanish art, I spent a few hours walking the museum. It’s also free with a student ID! On a beautiful day, make sure to get some exercise in and hike up to the Bunkers to take in the whole city—elevated. In terms of restaurants, one place I really enjoyed was Rosa Negra. With the friendliest staff, and mouth-watering entrée’s, you can’t miss a stop here. When you’re in the mood for tapas, Mil Grito is the place to go. They have a wide variety and you can find something here to eat for just about anyone. The list of favorites goes on.
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Karime Diaz

Alumni Ambassador
*Ask me about Internships!

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

The way that my study abroad experience has shaped me today is that it has made more patient and curious about other cultures and people. This is also an experience that has helped me grow and gain full independence and confidence to pursue new things and to accomplish my life-long goals. I feel that if I did not take this opportunity, my view of the world and of myself would have stayed narrow. I am so much more adventurous and willing to try new things and to embrace people while still maintaining my values and perspectives.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

The best part about studying abroad are being immersed in a new culture and city and learning about the history and influence it has on the people. I recommend that you always go to the museums and landmarks to really learn about the city and culture. It is also nice that Spain is so close to neighboring countries like France, Italy and Morocco, so weekend trips are pretty cheap and easy to plan!

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Kasey Geremia

Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite class abroad?
My favorite class had to be Cross Cultural Communication and Global Competence because of the eye-opening experience it gave me. I learned the most valuable lessons in this class that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Not only was the teacher amazing, but the course material was fascinating. It was unlike any other class I've taken at my home university. We got to go on walking tours of Dublin, try different local foods, and have class with students from all over Europe. My mind was opened to so many new ideas of what culture is and how to best communicate with people from all over the world. This helped me while traveling throughout Europe and made me better at communicating with others when I got back home.

2. How has the study abroad experience shaped you?

I can honestly say that studying abroad was the best thing I ever did for myself. My eyes have been opened, and my worldview has expanded because of it. Prior to studying abroad, I had never traveled outside the U.S. I didn’t know what life was like in any other country. I was nervous to go abroad, but I was looking for new adventures. Studying abroad in Dublin gave me that and so much more. 

I never thought I would have friends from France, Spanish housemates, or an Irish teacher that changed my life. All the experiences I had abroad, I never thought would happen to me. I was pushed outside my comfort zone every day and am so thankful for that. My time abroad helped me grow as a person, increase my confidence, and feel like I am able to take on anything life throws my way. 

Going abroad made me realize that many of my problems are small in the grand scheme of life, and there is so much out there for me to explore. I will forever keep adventuring because of my time with CEA in Ireland.
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Katherine Tarlas

Alumni Ambassador

1. What surprised you the most about your host city and culture?

For me, the best part about studying abroad was stepping out of my comfort zone. I went back and forth on whether I wanted to spend an entire semester away from home. My biggest fear was being homesick and away from everything that is familiar to me, but I decided to go, and it is an experience that will never be able to beat. I have not been homesick once, because this place has turned into my new home and I am constantly doing things to keep me busy. I feel so much comfort in Madrid because of how familiar everything is to me now. I took that huge step out of my comfort zone, and I am so grateful for that. I now have a whole different perspective on the new culture I am living in, and every experience/trip/person I have met has opened my eyes to the world in a completely different way. I have also met a ton of incredible people who I will continue to keep in touch with and who have made my abroad experience as great as it has been.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

You will never be able to do something like this again in your life. Once you graduate from college, you will join the real world and have to go to work, and you won't have the freedom that you do now. Study abroad in order to take that big step out of your comfort zone and not take the time you can have to travel all around the world for granted. You acquire so many new skills while living in another country. These skills could include learning a new language or a greater understanding of the world, which will stay with you for the rest of your life and be helpful in the workforce. Study abroad because every single person I have talked to who decided not to has said that they regret that decision.

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Katie Ann Insinga

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

While studying in Rome, I learned Italian. I am still learning, but it is definitely something that I have picked up in my classes here. Living in a place a where different language is spoken can be challenging at first, but I personally feel it adds to the trip because it gets you very out of your comfort zone and allows you to experience something completely different than you're used to. Also, learning is expedited because you are around the language and trying to use it all the time. I would suggest trying to learn a little beforehand. I did not practice Italian at all before I came to Rome, and I wish that I had at least a little knowledge of it in order to make things easier and learn more. But, if you are going to a place where you don't yet know the language, don't worry. Most people speak at least a little English, and you can always find someone who is willing to help, especially at CEA.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

The reason why you should study abroad is to get a once in a lifetime experience. There will never be another opportunity quite like this. You get to see new places, learn new things, and have experiences that will last a lifetime. The countless, breathtaking places I have been to are reason alone to study abroad. It has been so incredible to see places that you could only have dreamed about. This trip will make you grow as person and allow you to experience something unlike anything else. 

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Katie Fanning

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

Do a little research! Make sure to know each airline or bus luggage policy prior to traveling. Certain airlines are strict about the number or size of bags you can bring. If you plan on doing physical activities, pack appropriate clothing wear. Don't do as I did and brave a Norway mountain blizzard in jeans and cotton gloves.

Pay attention to cultural cues and be respectful, but do not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for transportation tips or day activities advice from locals is one of the best ways to learn how to spend your time. They know the best places to eat and visit besides hot spots on Google’s top tourist attractions.

Traveling to other countries is amazing, but don't overdo it. You may be disappointed if end your studies having only spent one weekend in your host country.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

I can confidently say I am a different and better person for having studied abroad. I have never felt an emotional connection to my home university because I did not find effortless connections to most of my classmates. This experience abroad has shown me how many more people, places, and lessons the world has to offer me. Over these past months, I have not only made the sincerest friendships and seen the most breathtaking scenery, but learned who I am, how to adapt, and how to be more independent, confident, and happy.

Moving to a foreign country that I knew little about pushed me far beyond my comfort zone. I was forced to learn how to be open to new friendships with people unlike me, be flexible in my planning, and grow from other cultures. The biggest difference in Europe that has impacted me is the way people talk here. In America, a great deal of conversations are devoted to gossiping to our peers over materialistic things. Living in Europe, people are interested in my life in America, politics, and what I plan to do with my life. I have found that my words, and now thoughts, are centered on more valuable topics than petty judgments.

After four months here, I am more mature and independent. I no longer fear being unsure of my future, because I know there is so much to see outside of Rhode Island and Delaware.

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Kayla Shepherd

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?

Do it. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it. This has been the most rewarding experience, and I am absolutely dreading the end of this semester. I've learned so much, not only in my classes, but about myself. I've made new friends, and I now know that I can live 4,000 miles away from my family successfully. I had an incredibly difficult time at the beginning of the program, but I can safely say that this has been the best semester of my life, no matter the ups or the downs. Because I know that I can live far away from home and be just fine, I already can't wait to see what the future holds when it comes to opportunities to go and live abroad. Maybe one day, I'll work for a study abroad company. Maybe one day, I'll pick up and move outside the United States. I know that these are all very real possibilities, but I'm not sure how confident I would have been about them before studying abroad.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class had to be Current Political Issues in France because I learned a ton, I had fun, and I had an amazing professor. During an election year in the United States and the beginning of an election in France, it was interesting to learn about the French political system and issues, and to compare and contrast them with the system and issues in America. I had an incredible professor that always made class fun, while also making sure my classmates and I learned as much as possible.

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Kayla VonBurg

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

Besides listening to Spanish music, living with a host family, and watching telenovelas, my best advice for someone trying to learn the second language is to listen—on the metro, in the streets, in restaurants—just listen to what people are saying, how they interact with each other. There is so much value to listening to the native speakers around you. This not only expanded my grammatical skills, but it also helped me pick up dialectal phrases and words.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Before I got on the plane on January 31, 2017, I was the girl who was afraid of her own shadow. I was a doormat and afraid to do things on my own. I was generally fearful for my future. From day one of living in Madrid, I was pushed to do things that were beyond my comfort zone. Between being in a new city, the language barrier, and culture shock, I was forced to grow up in a matter of about a week. I remember calling my mom about a week after I had lived in Madrid, and she told me she had never heard me sound so grown-up. By the time April of my term rolled around, I decided to take a last minute solo trip to Palma de Mallorca and London. This was perhaps the moment that I began to understand how much I had grown from this experience. I realized that I was so capable of being on my own, conquering my fears alone, and being comfortable in my own solitude. Study abroad is not about “finding yourself” as many say. Study abroad is about showing you what you are capable of. I now realize that I can do so much more than I once believed, that I am so much more valuable as a human than I once believed, and, with that in mind, I cannot wait to take that perspective with me for my remaining time in college, for my career, and for the rest of my life.

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Kim Burton

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:      

One of the best parts about studying abroad was fully immersing myself in the culture surrounding me. I gained more as a student abroad than a typical tourist. I ate the cultural foods daily and lived with locals. I got a chance to form relationships with my host family and learn more about the Tico culture in Costa Rica. I also loved being able to improve my language proficiency. It is imperative that you speak the cultural language whenever you can, especially with locals. Above all things, I enjoyed visiting the different cities within Costa Rica. It was phenomenal. I was able to see more, learn more and simply do more. My top travel tip when traveling to other cities within your selected country is to remain open-minded. Pack what you absolutely need. I understand money may be a factor in deciding where to go and where not to go, but remind yourself this is an experience of a lifetime. Upon return, you can always make the money back that you spent; however, the experience can never be repeated. I encourage everyone to budget ahead of time as well.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

 My study abroad experience has further propelled my career aspirations. I now want to mentor at-risk youth in developing countries, and my experience has only fueled that passion of mine. I took a few days off from excursions and volunteered while abroad. The Abraham Project had the greatest impact on me. The Abraham Project is a non-profit children’s orphanage in Costa Rica dedicated to enriching the lives of those in need. Listening to some of the children’s traumatic experiences and seeing how much they’ve progressed reassured me. Seeing the efforts put worth into the children only made me wish to become a part of it. At home, I mentor young girls and I have always wanted to do that on a global scale. I take pride in serving others and contributing to a child’s life. It was heart-warming to get those same sentiments abroad.

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Lauren Lason

Alumni Ambassador

*Ask me about my internship!
1. What was the best part of your study abroad?

While in Spain, my primary goal was to improve my Spanish. At first I was nervous to speak and make mistakes, but then I learned that not speaking is the biggest mistake of all. Spaniards were so kind and helpful, especially my host family. Conversations at meal-times were my favorite places to practice Spanish because of the welcoming environment they created. They knew how to correct my mistakes and build my confidence simultaneously. Often, we would talk about the newest Spanish songs. Music was another amazing way to learn the language, and it especially helped with pronunciation. They say imitation is a form of flattery but is also great practice. I still listen to my favorite songs from Spain. When I left for my semester abroad I was worried that I wouldn’t improve as much as a wanted to, however, I ended up learning more than I ever thought I could.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

My semester in Spain was the most rewarding experience of my life. I made countless friends, developed a new self-awareness, and gained valuable skills. This experience shaped me in countless ways, and am so grateful for it. 

I have always known I wanted to study abroad. However, the when and where changed many times throughout my academic career. When I found CEA’s program in Granada and learned I could take classes and complete an internship, I decided it was the perfect experience for me. Little did I know that what I learned outside the classroom would be just as important. I am a more confident and self-assured person than I was before studying abroad. I did not know anyone in my program before I arrived. This meant I had to make friends quickly and gave me the freedom to rediscover myself without the lens of my normal surroundings. I learned to be adaptable when living with a host family, and how to create meaningful relationships despite a language barrier. I also learned to be independent in ways that I had never previously imagined. 

Coming home has shown me how much I changed, and honestly, it has been difficult at times to reconcile who I was before with who I am now. But ultimately, I grew in positive ways from my experiences and any challenges I confronted only demonstrate that growth.

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Lauren Ogie

Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite class abroad?
My favorite class had to be History of Paris: An Architectural Perspective because it was everything I hoped for in a study abroad class. We met twice a week, and one of those two classes always took us somewhere different in Paris! I got to see a lot of Paris that I may not have seen otherwise! I learned a lot about the history of the city too. The professor is extremely knowledgeable and can answer pretty much any question. She gives great 
recommendations of things to do in Paris and other cities.

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:
A-MAY-ZING places in Paris: everywhere! Absolutely go enjoy ALL of the parks before (or after) the winter weather! La Villette, Buttes-Chaumont, André Citroen, Luxembourg, Boulonge to name a few. Bring a book to read! Wander the city and see what you stumble upon. The Marais, Saint-Germain, Latin Quarter, Odeon, etc. And of course there are all of the tourist sites to visit as well. I recommend checking out the lesser known museums; many of them are hidden gems! My personal favorite is the Musée Marmottan-Monet. It has the largest collection of Monet paintings. If you love Thai food like I do, then Tuk Tuk Thai on Rue de Laborde is a must! It was recommended to me by a friend from Thailand that I made in my Sorbonne class. Close to the CEA Center, there is L’as du Fallafel, the ever so popular falafel place. (Insider note: if you do not feel like waiting in the long line, the place just across the rue is equally as yummy!)

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Lindsay McGowan

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

I learned Czech while in Prague, and every week we learned songs in Czech. This really helped me work on pronunciation and little bits of grammar. Plus during the holidays we would hear the Christmas songs we learned playing in the mall or the grocery song, and we could sing along! As with any language though, practice it! When you’re out at a restaurant, instead of relying on your English, try and ask your waiter for your meal in the language you’re learning! You may butcher it, but often they appreciate the effort.

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

There are so many great restaurants and pubs in Prague! The goulash at Sklep in Prague 3 was to die for! For any football fans, Barfud in Prague 3 was our go to place to watch football games on Sundays. The food is great, it’s a nice cozy atmosphere, and the owners are very nice American expats. If you’re craving Chipotle, Prague has its own version called Burrito Loco. The best part: it’s open 24 hours! Las Adelitas is another great Mexican food option. They have locations in Prague 1, 2 and 3. No matter which semester you spend in Prague, you’ll be able to experience some holiday market. In the fall, we went to the St. Wenceslas and Christmas markets. They have great traditional food stands that sell freshly cut/fried potato chips, Trdelníks (kinds of spit cakes made from wrapping dough around sticks), doughnuts, sausages, gingerbread, and mulled wine!

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Lindsey Carl

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

Studying abroad has opened my eyes so much to all the possibilities that this world has to offer. I volunteered in a hospital during my four months abroad. I saw just how different the healthcare system is in another country. I realized how fortunate the United States is, with its abundance of healthcare facilities, personnel, and equipment. This has motivated me to return to Costa Rica in the future, once I have my license to practice medicine, because I will have the ability to help so many people. Without coming abroad, I would not have understood the lack of healthcare in various parts of the world. My academic skills have improved during my time abroad as well. I am much better at managing my time and prioritizing tasks. This will be helpful in the future in many ways. I also gained new perspectives of the world and cultures different from mine. I discovered my passion for learning about different cultures, which has encouraged me to travel more. I now understand what I am truly capable of mentally, physically, and emotionally. Studying abroad has forced me to grow up and live on my own. I will take these lessons with me for the rest of my life.

2. How has study abroad shaped you?

During my time abroad, I saw many changes in myself. One experience that really impacted me on different levels was a backpacking trip in Nicaragua. This was an overnight trip up a volcano. I have never experienced something so mentally or physically taxing. I carried a backpack that was over forty pounds for twenty miles and two days. The hike really showed me how much my body is capable of. It was unlike any other workout I have ever endured. Every inch of my body hurt. I wanted to quit more times than I could count, but I knew it would be worth it in the end. I was right. The views were breathtaking. I watched the sun set and rise over six other volcanos. It amazed me that something so beautiful happens every day.

I had time to reflect on myself during this journey. I realized that in the past three months I had done things that I never thought I would. There were hard times, but the good times more than made up for them. I have never been so proud of myself before, and it was truly humbling. This experience taught me that whenever I am faced with a challenge, I should accept it. I am motivated to see as much of the world as I can and continue to learn about myself. Without coming abroad, I would not have had the opportunity to do anything like this. I will forever be grateful.

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Loreen Catubay

Alumni Ambassador

1. What surprised you the most about your host city and culture?

The whole process and experience of studying abroad is like no other. I believe the best part about studying abroad is the element of uncertainty. In a country whose culture, norms, language, and environment is different from what I am accustomed to, I was constantly anticipating what adventure was coming next. Everything was a learning adventure, whether it was going to the local markets, going to a different town, or even simply going to the university's cafeteria. From every interaction or activity, I gained new insights into the daily lifestyles of Shanghai people, and was slowly able to make exchanges in only Mandarin. Every day was a fun mystery, for everyday offered something new. From simply being in a foreign country, I was able to gain more experience, insights, and skills that a textbook could not offer me.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class had to be Cross-Cultural Communications with our professor. I thoroughly enjoyed this class because I gained a vast amount of knowledge and understanding and developed skills by communicating with people from all around the world. In addition to learning more about others, the class gave me insight into how and why I communicate, behave, and perceive the world differently than others. I believe since this class fosters understanding, it inevitably also led to closer connections with one another. From this class, I believe I gained a new understanding and appreciation for cultures and diversity.

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Mackenzie Phillips

Alumni Ambassador
1. I am super responsible and motivated, so I participated in an internship/volunteer program/service learning program while I was abroad. Here’s how I will use those career-building experiences:

I signed up for the International Internship Program, which allowed me to intern at a Primary International School in Prague. This opportunity opened many new skills and methods I could use and learn from when I enter the education field. The school I interned at used the United Kingdom education method, and it was very different from the United States’. The children at the school came from all parts of the world and they are able to gain cultural sensitivity at an early age. They are used to all types of religions, cultures and races surrounding them every day. In a lot of the American schools, race can be a primary issue since the students are not surrounded by it like international schools are. This is a key skill I would like my classroom or school to learn. I would like the learning of different cultures to be a part of the curriculum so that students in the US will gain cultural sensitivity at an earlier age.

2. What surprised you the most about your host city and culture?

One thing that surprised me was that Prague was different than I imagined it. All the roads are nothing but cobblestone and the city is mainly still traditional. There are some modern things in Prague like malls, expensive shops, clubs, but there are also a lot of traditional areas as well. There is an area in Prague called Wenceslas Square that features lots of shopping and modern things (movie theaters, restaurants, etc.). Not far from it is also that oldest area that exists in Prague called Old Town Square. This whole aspect surprised me as a whole.
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Madeline Fillip

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

My classes were in French, and I stayed with a French host mom. By participating in class discussions and having dinner conversations, I developed my conversation skills. 
Many strangers will notice your accent and begin speaking English to you, but I've found that if you pretend that you're not American and don’t speak English well, they'll have no choice but to speak with you in French.

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

Book in Bar: This café sells books in English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and several other languages (although, strangely, there were no French books). There are plenty of well-lit places to sit and get work done, provided that you at least buy some of their delicious tea or pastries. 
Coco Bohème: This is a more hipster café in that you need to take your shoes off once entering, and the lounge is in a basement. Nevertheless, this is a cozy space to hang out and/or get work done. A tea lover's paradise! 
Columbus Café: I regret not finding this sooner. The food and atmosphere are fantastic, and they have free Wi-Fi! 
Musée Granet: This museum has both a permanent and non-permanent art collections, and students get in free with student ID 
Parc Vendôme: This is a great place to sit in the sun. 
Parc de la Torse: This is a great place to run or walk.

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Madeline Reiche

Alumni Ambassador

1. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

In terms of restaurants, there is a cozy gastropub called “The Oak” in the heart of Dublin conveniently just around the corner from CEA’s Study Center. The pork, potato pie, and beef sliders are to die for! It is a must-stop after class. If you’re looking for a coffee shop, Kaph has the best cup of coffee in Dublin (and for a great price!). However, if you are looking for a coffee shop to study in, I recommend Clement and Pekoe. They have plenty of seating with large enough spacing for laptops and books. On an off weekend, I highly recommend going to the quaint fish town, Howth. It is a short train ride a way and makes for a great day or even half-day trip. There, I recommend hiking the Cliff Path route for stunning views including the lighthouse. After, go to Crabby Jo’s for the best fish and chips!

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class had to be Popular Culture in Ireland because of how much it complimented and enhanced my abroad experience. While living in Dublin alone gives its fair share of exposure to the vibrant Irish culture, studying the culture in the classroom adds much more meaning. Primarily, I learned Ireland’s deeply rooted history, which I came to learn had one of the greatest impacts on Irish culture and Ireland today. Additionally, I loved this class because we would learn the background and significance of aspects of the culture in the classroom and then go out on excursions to experience the culture.

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Malaika Wilson

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

My study abroad experience has impacted my academics greatly. I am a Spanish major so going to Costa Rica, being immersed into the culture, being forced to speak the language, and taking Spanish classes all helped me speak and understand the language tremendously. I had struggled at my home university in my Spanish classes because I did not comprehend the information, and I could speak little to no Spanish. However, after my study abroad experience, I am doing extremely well in my Spanish classes and communicating much better in the language.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class by far had to be my Cultural Photography class. My professor took us on many mini field trips in and around San Jose. I enjoyed that because not only were we seeing the culture of Costa Rica but we were able to photograph all the incredible things our professor showed us. Whichever technique we were discussing that week was the technique we were to practice while taking the pictures on the trips, so combining traveling and photography was a great treat for me.

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Margaret Unzen

Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

My study abroad experience means everything to me. I had never left the US before I made the leap to a new country. It encouraged me to immerse myself in new cultures and interact with people from all over the world. I met lifelong friends abroad who shape who I am today. Since then, I have found that I would like to become an advisor for students wanting to study abroad. This opportunity made me grow as an individual and gave me a career I am passionate about and would like to pursue.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

My academics have improved significantly since my study abroad. I have always been a good student, but traveling opened my eyes to what’s important. Now I value my education and enjoy learning more than ever. I also have a new interest in my career. I want to help others and have a passion for study abroad that I would like to share with others. I have found that I am more ambitious and have an all-around excitement about my future.

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Marisa Conway

Alumni Ambassador
1. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 
Studying abroad is going to teach you so much about the rest of the world and it’s going to teach you a lot about yourself. There is something so extraordinary about seeing the world as other people see it. I truly believe you can’t fully live life without experiencing all it has to offer: the amazing people, cultures, and scenery. And in the midst of it all, we learn more about ourselves. We learn what we like and what we dislike, what inspires us and what scares us. We complete ourselves with the missing pieces that we might have not discovered if we stayed in our comfort zone without testing ourselves.

2. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! You should not miss them:

When traveling to Barcelona, it is very easy to get caught up in the beauty of EVERYTHING. So the important thing to do is to first check out the touristy spots. Start with The Sagrada Familia, by far the most beautiful church I've ever seen. The architecture and attention to detail is amazing: it’s said that the whole story of the New Testament is told on the outside of the church. Second, I would say go to Montserrat, home of the beautiful mountains of Barcelona. It is known for being a very magical and spiritual place due to its Catholic influence. Third, visit Park Guell, where you can view the artwork of the famous artist Gaudi: the whole place is like one big canvas. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by vivid colors and beautiful sculptures. After you go to all of those touristy places, Costa Brava is the perfect place to unwind, an oasis with beautiful beaches and Roman ruin castles. The perfect way to end the night after a day at Costa Brava is with a plate of paella.



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Marissabel Diaz Roman

Alumni Ambassador

1. What has your experience abroad taught you about the rest of the world?

One of the greatest and humbling experiences I had abroad was volunteering at a refugee center. Before studying abroad, in my migration class at my home institution we talked a lot about the African migration to Europe as well as the refugee crisis. I always thought it was all very far away, and there was nothing I could do to help. When I first saw what we discussed in class, it was such intense feeling to witness it all. I started volunteering at the refugee center it made me feel incredible to know I was helping these kids even if it was just by doing a small action. It made me realize that although I was a migrant myself at one point, I did not face the extreme and dangerous journey they did. I got very close to these children because I know what it feels like to have to adapt to a new place and learn a new language. Although we have slight similarities, we had more differences. I live in a world where I have everything whereas they don’t. Volunteering at the refugee center had taught me amazing life lessons. It taught me to be patient and understanding and left me with a more open mind. It taught me how different the place I live is compared to Europe. For example, Spain had taken a more positive approach toward migrants, although they are in an economic crisis while the US has chosen to close its doors. I think it is important to know what these people are going through. It is important to know about issues going on around the rest of the world. That is what studying abroad did for me, it opened my mind even more and helped me see things in a different perspective.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

I know you hear people often say it changes your life, well it is true! Studying abroad helps you grow as a person and you find yourself being more open-minded and adventurous. Leaving home to a whole new place can be scary. I’m telling you because I was feeling it, but, once I saw all those beautiful places and met the most amazing people, I was glad I had left home because I wouldn’t have experienced it all. There’s so much to do and so much to see. It’s a whole new world that deserves to be seem. Seeing a different country every weekend and trying different foods is something many people dream of. If you’re fortunate enough to do it, do it. It’s something I guarantee you won’t regret.

 

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Megan Kruskie

Alumni Ambassador

1. One of the best parts about studying abroad?

Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

-Buy your tickets in advance. Otherwise, travel can get pretty expensive! 
-Do all you can do when you visit another city. You never know when you'll be back, and you've already made the trip there, so why not take advantage of everything you can? 
-If you're worried about cost, there are always plenty of local things to do or day trips to take. You don't have to spend a lot of money to travel! 
-Don't be scared to travel alone. If you want to go somewhere, go! Obviously be careful, but traveling alone can be fun and teach you a lot about yourself.

2. How has this study abroad experience shaped you?

My experience has really made me think a lot about who I am and what I want to do with my life. While abroad, I definitely questioned the career path I was on more than once, but in a good way. It really opened my eyes to what is important to me. I am definitely more eager to learn other languages and travel as much as I can because once you know what's out there, you can never get enough. There is just so much to learn about the world that you can only experience by traveling. Study abroad has also made me a more outgoing person. When you're alone in a foreign country, you have to put yourself out there to learn about the culture and meet new people. Speaking in a foreign language is not always the most comfortable thing to do, but you learn to work with what you have and always try because if you don't, you won't gain anything.

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Megan Styborski

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

When I first arrived in San José, I think I spoke maybe three words in Spanish. I had studied French in both high school and college, but never any Spanish. I have four big tips for learning a new language while you’re abroad. First, try to learn some before you depart, especially key phrases and vocabulary. Second, bring flashcards with you from home and use them as much as possible. Third, practice as much as you can! It’s easy to talk to friends in your program in English, but try practicing your language with them instead. It also helps a lot to make local friends and practice with them. At first, it’s a bit hard and awkward, but the improvement will blow you mind, and you’ll make life-long friends abroad in the process. Fourth, if you can, use Netflix. At my destination, I watched in English with Spanish subtitles, and it did wonders for me! If you think that you’re ready for it, you can also watch in a foreign language with English subtitles, or just watch in a foreign language alone! You’ll be amazed at how much you pick up.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

The first thing I would say is that it’s one of the best ways to kick off a life full of travel. It’s so cost effective considering how long you’re there and how much you get out of it. And for those of you who say it’s too expensive or who think there aren’t many options for your major, don’t worry. I have the answers! First off, yes, studying abroad can be painfully expensive. But it doesn’t need to be! There are so many different destinations and program types, and those factors can have a big impact on the cost. I personally couldn’t afford most of the options in Europe, but I still found a way to go! I barely spent more money abroad then I would’ve at home, and some students save money by going abroad. For those of you who have difficult majors, there are work-arounds! My major was in the health sciences, and I had a lot of difficulty finding an option that was both affordable for me and useful for my major. So instead, I used my time abroad to work on my minor and my honors coursework. I ended up getting an affordable experience while also getting an academically valuable experience. It’s completely possible on both counts. In addition to all of that, studying abroad does so much for you as a person. You mature in so many ways, from traits like confidence and independence to being able to live off a backpack full of bare necessities. You develop a global awareness and understanding that is completely irreplaceable and highly valuable for the rest of your life.

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Michael Mott

Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite class abroad? 
My favorite class during my two months studying at the University of Granada Centro de Lenguas Modernas was “Diversidad del Español” (Diversity of Spanish). 

This was my favorite because it delved into the origins of the Spanish language and cultures in different areas of Spain. I was lucky to have an amazing professor who I would frequently speak to before and after class about what we learned. 

It was the most interesting class I took because it equipped me to understand Spanish culture by teaching me the history of the language and its connections to other areas in Europe and the world. We learned many colloquial phrases, which I was able to employ with the Spanish students in my dorm and people in the community. This class helped me understand Spanish culture more and made it easier to fully immerse myself into my program environment.

2. How has this study abroad experience shaped you?

I have told everyone (friends, family, college professors etc.) who asked about the two months I spent abroad in Spain that it had an immense impact on how I view the world. I have taken Spanish classes since I was in middle school, but wasn’t educated on Spanish society, culture and people until I actually stepped foot in Spain myself. 

Studying abroad was an absolutely beautiful and life-changing experience. It transformed my previously pessimistic view of the world and people into a perspective where I now appreciate humanity and the differences all of us have more than ever! Even before I arrived in Spain, waiting in the Stockholm airport for 4 hours, I had a chance to speak to people from places I had never heard of, who were as curious about my life and culture as I was about theirs. 

When I think about my study abroad experience now, it truly feels like a dream because of how it offered a new challenge, a new discovery, and a new learning experience every day. I believe that studying abroad has made me more mature as a man, and it solidified my own personal values. I had so many organic interactions with people from all over the world, and the kindness of strangers was a recurring theme throughout my travels. When I returned to the United States, I felt ready to face any difficulties I had in life because of my experiences abroad.

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Mika Richards

Alumni Insider
1. What was the best part about studying abroad?
Studying abroad was, hands down, the best decision that I have made. The best part about studying abroad was discovering the similarities and differences between my home country and my study abroad country. Studying abroad can be daunting, to say the least. You are a complete foreigner. There are new modes of transportation, a new language, and even different cultural rules to follow, such as public behavior and dress codes. To make your experience the best possible, do research on the country, and when you arrive, you must dive in head first into the culture. Remind yourself that just because this new culture is different from your own, it doesn't mean that it is bad, but simply different. While it is easy to stay with people from your culture, such as other students you study abroad with, you should also explore (while taking safety precautions) the country as it really is. If you don't feel comfortable exploring your new city alone, you can take another student, but decide that it would be an opportunity to learn the language. For example, you could ask a passerby for directions or order food in the country's language. Most importantly, enjoy the ride.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life?
Studying abroad has assisted me in addressing personal battles. I have dealt with Generalized Anxiety Disorder since I was eight years old. In unfamiliar environments, I would have panic attacks, which prevented me from doing things that I desperately wanted to do, such as travelling. Studying abroad was a huge step for me, as I was travelling to an extremely unknown territory. For what I was able to prepare myself for, I did, and for what I couldn't, I told myself that I had a decision to make. Should I live my life based on my fears, or should I choose my own path? When I arrived, I chose to do what scared me the most. I made the choice to get completely lost in Paris, which is something that I never dared to do before. I was able to figure out how to navigate the metro and eventually made my way back to my apartment. After I exposed myself to this situation, I was able to trust myself, and I had gained a lot of confidence. To this day, I have yet to feel anxious, so I will forever be grateful for my study abroad experience. Travelling had always been something I aimed to accomplish, and thanks to the success I've experienced in France, I’m planning other trips to backpack around Europe. Studying abroad has sparked my interest in cultural and interpersonal differences, which is positive because it gave me more motivation to study and understand my major (Communications). Before studying abroad, I didn't especially have a plan after graduation, however, I decided that I would love to work for a study abroad organization. I want to help others experience diversity, in hopes of reducing Mean World Syndrome, or assuming the world and the unknown are always dangerous.
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Mikaela Schneider

Alumni Insider
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
One of the biggest gifts study abroad has given me so far is to simply enjoy life. It sounds cliche and straightforward but it means so much more to me than that. I have changed from being a stressed, worrisome, and frugal person to being carefree, content, and fulfilled in mind, body, and soul. I've noticed a change in myself that I'm more confident in all aspects of life, feel more competent and assured of myself, and am more decisive and true to who I am. It was after a month of traveling the world that my ideals gradually switched to just calm down, relax, and appreciate every moment. I've realized I should treat myself every day and live to fullest. I'm now not scared of new things, embrace the unknown, and have developed countless skills. Study abroad has taught me to live in the present, helped me to understand "joie de vivre" or the joy of living, and overall has changed me as a person.

2. What would you say if you had 60 seconds to convince a friend to study abroad?
When you are considering study abroad listen to this: All those places you have fantasized about, have read about, dream of, see in pictures - they're all attainable, they're all real places that are meant to be discovered with fascinating people, cultures, histories, structures, traditions, views, and more. When you study abroad you enter a whole new world that is full of adventure, learning, and self-enlightenment. You embark on a dream journey where you're satisfied by delicious local delicacies, rejuvenated by clear waters, and essentially changed as a person by living to the fullest. You meet exciting new people that will change your life and come across many surprises that will rise above your highest expectations. You not only get a taste of a different culture, but you get to experience a new environment for a long-term stay. You are given so much opportunity and you can grab and take as much as you want from it. Perhaps these are the reasons I stayed an extra semester, because I couldn't leave the amazing life I was living and I would recommend it to anyone that has passion for travel or is open to a life-changing journey.
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Miranda Schimek

Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Since I have gone through the culture shock and reverse culture shock twice now, because I did a Rotary Youth Exchange in high school and then studied abroad in college, I have become extremely adaptable. This is convenient in the workplace, I can adapt to different jobs and tasks quickly. Since I began traveling my senior year of high school I haven’t stopped. I have met people from around the world who have shown me the importance of travel. It has made me a very accepting and welcoming person. I have met people from all diverse backgrounds and religions and I find we can learn a lot from everyone we meet.

2. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

I would recommend focusing on conjugation before arriving to your host country because that is more universal. While learning vocab is nice to have, each country differs a lot; I had to learn a lot of new words just between living in Colombia and then Costa Rica. When I arrived to Colombia on an exchange in high school, I didn’t speak Spanish at all and my host family didn’t speak English. My host sister knew a little written English and wrote a list of the main verbs they used and the slang. When trying to learn a language it is best to immerse yourself into it completely. This means listening to Spanish music, TV, and making friends who you can practice it with (locals who are native speakers of that language are always the best because then you can learn the language and the culture with it). I also found having a host family was very important to me because they taught me most of the Spanish I learned on exchange and were super patient with me.

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Molly O'Brien

Alumni Insider
1. What are your favorite places to visit?
There are so many amazing places I would recommend to students studying abroad in Barcelona. Besides visiting the attractions Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, wandering along Las Ramblas, and walking the boardwalk on Barceloneta, there are other lesser known places to visit like touring the beautiful Hospital Sant Pau and hiking up to the Bunkers Del Carmel for gorgeous views of the city. Walk and turn off Las Ramblas into the Gothic Quarter and get lost appreciating the incredible architecture of the streets. If you want to day trip out of the city, take the train to Montserrat for to view the ornate monastery and incredible panoramic views of Catalunya. Trek up to Mount Tibidabo to visit the amusement park and pretend to be a kid again on the rainbow-colored Ferris wheel. If you want some sun, take the L2 metro train up to Badalona and visit the beach and boardwalk there. If you’re into coffee like me, there are dozens of amazing coffee shops to try out. For relaxing there are many parks and plazas to sit and read a book and enjoy people watching. You will never run out of things to do in this incredible city.

2. What would you say to convince a friend to study abroad, if you had 60 seconds?
Studying abroad teaches you lessons that you can't learn any other way. It will make you more creative in thinking of solutions to problems in an unfamiliar place when you don’t necessarily understand the culture or the language completely, and this will expand your mind. You will grow as a person, in a way that no other experience can make you grow. You’re going to meet many new people from around the world in your classes and in your excursions, who are going to teach you about their culture as well. You’ll discover new delicious foods to eat (I have memorized how to make the Spanish tortilla and fully plan on enjoying it regularly when I get back to the USA) and new drinks depending on what region you are in, and they’ll all be amazing. You will try new activities that you might not have known that you liked before going abroad, such as skiing in a colder country or surfing in a warmer country. Living abroad is also a great opportunity to practice your language skills. If you desire to become fluent in a different language, studying abroad in the country which speaks that language is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself and really get the opportunity to practice the language firsthand. A future benefit of studying abroad is the perspective that being in a different country gives you when you’re seeking a professional job in the future. Potential employers will recognize the value of the problem solving skills you acquired abroad, and how your decision to live in another place with different ways of life represent your true willingness to never stop learning. Studying abroad is an experience you can’t have after university, and an opportunity that you need to take advantage of while you can!
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Morgan Geraci

Alumni Insider
1. What was your favorite class abroad? 
My favorite class had to be Cross-Cultural Management because I am a culture enthusiast! I really enjoy learning about how culture shapes everyone differently and how it can relate to daily life, all the way to a business setting. The teacher I had, Maria did an amazing job at explaining the cultural differences within the main regions of the world and explained the business culture of Spain. From things to customer service here compared to the US and how we eat compared to the Spaniards. To me I found it really interesting and I still remember almost everything until this day because now I recognize it when I am walking around Barcelona!

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?
I would say that life is too short to be doing something you don't want to do. I love to travel and see what the world has to offer me. I am a Spanish language and culture lover so anywhere where I can speak the language, you bet I will be there. The culture is rich, the food is incredible and the academics are important, but you should enjoy studying wherever you please. If you want to study abroad but your program doesn't think it is a good idea, that's a lie. Every major can benefit from a study abroad experience, if not then you won't experience more of the world and you'll only see it from the eyes of the US. The world looking back to the point before I left New York, is so much bigger and has so many amazing opportunities to learn and grow as a person. Take advantage of studying abroad if you really want to do it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I honestly think that everyone should do at least a semester abroad. This will be my 4th semester abroad in the fall of 2017.
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Morgan Rector

Alumni Insider

What tips do you have for learning the local language?

While studying abroad in Barcelona, I had the pleasure of learning Spanish! I had some background with the language, but had never quite been able to reach the level of proficiency I had hoped to achieve in the US. While abroad, my language skills improved more in a few months than they had in years of Spanish classes. Of course, this is because I really tried to incorporate Spanish into my life abroad! In order to practice, I set a goal for myself to only talk to locals in Spanish (including CEA staff), even if they spoke English. I also spoke in Spanish to my friends outside of the classroom as often as possible! Additionally, during the holiday season, I listened to some of my favorite Christmas songs in Spanish. However, one of the most beneficial activities for my language skills was volunteering at a Pediatric Hospital in Spain, where nobody spoke English. This was a challenge, but in the best way. By being fully immersed in the language, I was able to learn very quickly. I was also able to create friendships with local people. I strongly encourage anyone who is studying abroad to take a language course, as it greatly increased my immersion into the culture and allowed me to feel more comfortable in my new city.

If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

If I had 60 seconds to convince a friend to study abroad, the conversation would probably go something like this: you must study abroad. I can assure you that this will be the most incredible, eye-opening experience that you have ever had! By being immersed in another culture and pushed out of your comfort zone, you will grow in more ways than you had ever imagined possible. Before coming abroad, I did not know what to expect. I thought I would have a good time, meet new people, and discover a new part of the world. I never predicted how study abroad would give me an entirely renewed appreciation for the acquisition of knowledge. As I learned more about other cultures in my classes and through traveling, I found myself watching the news and reading articles for fun, something I never did in the US. Nowadays, the thought of learning something new is exciting and fun, rather than a chore that I accomplish to pass my classes in university. In addition to learning more about the world than I had ever imagined possible, I also have a deeper understanding of myself. I think there is something about being removed from your comfort zone that allows you to develop who you truly are. Through the fun times and the challenges, I have grown into a confident woman, ready to tackle the world. 

Studying abroad also gives you an opportunity to make friends in many different countries, which I absolutely loved. Talking to people from different cultures and backgrounds gives you the opportunity to hear new ideas and opinions. Who knows, maybe someone you meet will change your life! Studying abroad also helps you develop more patience in dealing with people who have different opinions than you and facing tough situations. You will emerge a more competent person because of these experiences. Lastly, you will have the time of your life!

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Nakia Edmond

Alumni Ambassador

What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class was my intensive Chinese because we could not speak in English at all except for a few words we didn’t know. Speaking Chinese for 2 months straight expanded my vocabulary extensively and helped me learn more than I ever did in a classroom on at my home campus. It gave me the confidence and drive to continue practicing my foreign language even after my program had long ended.

How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?  

My study abroad experience is more of a personal journey I share with others that helped me figure out what I was passionate about and what I was meant to do with my life. I came into college a criminal justice major with no real direction or passion for the major. However, after I returned from my study abroad program, I was determined to finish out my major and attend grad school for international studies with a concentration in East Asian Studies. I started my journey by interning for the education abroad office on my home campus my senior year and applied to grad schools with strong international backgrounds. Now I am a graduate student attending Texas State University, and I have CEA to thank for helping me find myself and my career path.

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Nam Nguyen

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

I firmly believe that studying abroad benefited me academically, professionally, and personally. Studying abroad broadened my knowledge and perspective in multiple ways. It has expanded my knowledge in my field of study and has helped me become the open-minded and flexible person that every employer is looking for. These experiences have helped me further develop my independence and be prepared to face whatever challenges come my way.

2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

Thanks to my study abroad experience, I can enter my professional career with a significant understanding of different cultures and people. After participating in many different study abroad programs, I am more aware of the cultural expectations and norms surrounding me. I have a proper understanding of what is expected of me and how to better “fit in” in the new environment. Finally, the sensitivity I have gained by studying abroad can help me succeed in many different cultures.

The insights I gained from living and studying abroad will assist me in future career opportunities. The instances in which I overcame cultural barriers and challenges will help me differentiate myself from other applicants quickly. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to marvel at the culture and history of many different countries up-close. By bridging the language barriers, I will have a chance to open plenty of doors to my future career. Whether I intend to work in a country where I studied or join an international company that maintains partnerships with those cultures, being able to speak their language and having knowledge of their culture will make me an attractive hire.

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Nicola Mayer

Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

The one lesson I’ve been taught time and time again while abroad is how quickly life passes by and to take advantage of my surroundings. I’m not talking about constantly exploring my environment—I need my down time just as much as anyone—but about being fully invested in the moment. When I was at the Colosseum, I made sure to take a second, get out from behind my camera, and really look at what was in front of me. When I was eating gnocchi in Florence, I slowed down to enjoy my food instead of scarfing it because it was so delicious. When I was at the thermal baths in Budapest, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the peace of the steam room, instead of being preoccupied by all the other pools I still wanted to go to.

Life passes so quickly, and it’s impossible to remember everything. My most vivid memories from abroad are when I’ve completely allowed myself to be consumed by the experience, when I devoted all my energy to the present. Forcing myself to slow down the constant race of daily life has given me so much happiness. I can use this valuable lesson I learned from my abroad program to change the way I approach my clubs, school work, and career search to have more memorable experiences.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Right now you’re younger than you’ll ever be in the future. That’s obvious. Realizing youth comes with flexibility, opportunity and marginally smaller consequences is less obvious. You’ll have the opportunity to travel later in life, but packing up and moving across the world for 4 months is a chance that will never be as easy to accomplish as it is now. There’s no denying it’s a huge leap and it can be terrifying. But there’s also no denying that going abroad will be the most you’ll ever grow. I’ve grown in ways I’ve never thought possible. I’ve learned the best way to grow is to be thrown into a situation you’re not comfortable with. When you’re not comfortable with the situation, you are forced to think differently and acknowledge that what has been done is not always the way things will be done.

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Nicole Nordman

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

I realize that there are not enough words to adequately describe my time abroad. I feel like I have become an entirely different person, a more real and whole me. The opportunities I had while abroad are numerous and extensive, but each had a significant impact on the person I am today. Before going to Spain, I felt confused and unsure of most things in my life, but after coming back, I am sure that my potential is endless and anything is possible if I am sure of myself and my capabilities. The most important things I have learned are that language doesn’t have to be a barrier; family is more important than I ever realized; studies don’t have to be the center of your life as long as you’re doing what you love; and food is a very important part of every culture! I will never forget my time living with my incredible host family in a country so different from my own. I was able to share so many things with them from the simple conversations about activities I did in class to something as complex as my mental health. In high school, I gave a speech to the whole school about my experience with mental disorders and it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I thought I would never do something like that again, but after seeing how understanding a person can be even when there is a language barrier, I’ve found that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Living in Granada with my host family truly was an ever-lasting experience that I will cherish forever.

2. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

I would have to say that the best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it. Not everyone has this kind of opportunity, but if you are lucky to be able to, put in your best effort every day to speak to the natives. And, if you get the chance to live with a host family, talk to them about what you do every day. I also found it helpful to watch game shows with my family because they use a lot of every day vocabulary, and I could ask my host family about the words I didn’t know. The most helpful thing that I did before leaving for my host country was changing my phone to Spanish because it really forced me to learn vocabulary that’s prevalent today.

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Paige Halfmann

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?  

It has always been my goal to live and work abroad someday. I’ve always been infatuated with the European lifestyle and business practices, however, this study abroad experience turned my infatuation into an understanding and appreciation. I have learned so much about the cultures of the countries I’ve visited during my time abroad, and even more about myself. I’ve learned that a European business setting is a place I could see myself thriving. I could only come to such a conclusion after spending ever so valuable time interning at a company headquartered in Prague. I had daily interactions with individuals from numerous different countries and learned a great deal from each of them. I believe that diversity in the work place is essential and is something that Europeans value, and I appreciate that. I can only hope that someday I will be a part of such a work place.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?         

Studying abroad is extremely beneficial for many reasons. First, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to spend an extended time in a country completely different from your own. Having the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle, government, economy, etc. provides you with new perspectives and encourages you to look at your home country through new eyes. Second, for all you learn about your host country, you will learn even more about yourself through studying abroad. Traveling alone to a completely unfamiliar country, being responsible for taking care of yourself, planning travels, taking classes, interning, and learning the public transit make you into a much more independent, braver, and confident person. Third, studying abroad gives you an excellent opportunity to represent your home country and play a role in enhancing your country’s reputation abroad. Talking with locals, making honest attempts to learn, using their language, and being conscious of your surrounding and actions all make a world of difference in how people around the world view people from your country. Overall, study abroad in one of the most valuable investments you can make in yourself.

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Parisia Barker

Alumni Ambassador
1. What was one of your favorite parts of study abroad?

The best part of studying abroad was staying with a host family. Everyday my family and I took paseos (walks) around Barcelona, and it allowed me to see Barcelona in a different light. On weekends we drove to their pueblo (town) for a small vacation with their extended family. I can strongly say that my level of Spanish advanced overnight once I moved in with my family. I loved learning about my host’s families customs and traditions. It was fun teaching them about what it meant to be an African American, and it also helped me learn even more about my own identity. I will forever have a Catalan papa, mama, hermano (brother), y perrito (little dog) in my second home in Barcelona.

2. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?

Prior to my trip to Barcelona I set a few goals. On the top was to come back fluent. When learning a new language you must have patience with yourself. I discovered that many people are willing to work with you. So when you don’t have patience with yourself, it can be tempting to just forget talking all together, second guess yourself, and or talk low as a result to loss of confidence. My biggest obstacle I faced was during my off days. I would stumble through the Spanish I had for that day, and locals would always respond in English. For a while this discouraged me, but one day when they responded in English, I kept speaking Spanish, and the conversation continued in Spanish. On days when you don’t feel like you have it, fake it until you make it, and I promise you eventually will make it. I still make mistakes, but I learn to laugh at them, ask for help, and apply the changes. Consistency is key.
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Sam Tierney

Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite class abroad?

Past in the Present: London, History, and Museums. Every week we went to a different museum in London, which was a great way to take advantage of the free museums around the city. It helped me learn a whole new perspective while at museums. I now like to think about how well the exhibits are set up and why they may be set up in that way. The assignments in the class were also very enjoyable. For example we had to make our own exhibit based on practically anything we wanted. While I enjoyed all of my classes, this one was a lot of fun because it was not the traditional classroom setting, and the instructor was so interested in the topics, which always makes a course better.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Studying abroad made me a much more confident and independent person. At the beginning, being away from home for five months seemed like it was going to be the hardest thing I would have to do. Now I look back on my experience feeling proud of myself for being able to do it and not holding myself back from anything. I saw so much of London and so many countries, and I conquered my overwhelming fears: homesickness, the fear that I would not make friends, taking classes at a brand new school, and working at an international internship. All of these things were running through my head, but I was able to do it, which led to feeling more confident and underestimating myself less.
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Samara Rosenthal

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

My life has changed a lot since being back from studying abroad. I feel as if I am a different person after this experience. Four months ago, I don’t know if I could have said that I was independent and confident. In addition, I have become more outgoing then I used to be and I am not afraid to meet new people and make new connections. I did learn a lot throughout my study abroad classes, although I think I learned even more by traveling and experiencing the world. Studying abroad has changed my perspective on the world and has also opened up many doors for after college that I did not think of before this experience. Living in another country is definitely something that I would do again. I made so many connections with others that I met through this program and just being abroad in general that will help me in the future.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made. You get to travel the world, meet amazing people and go on new adventures while you are studying and learning things that will help you in your future. I never thought I would come back to America with 20 new best friends. The friendships that you make while abroad are unreal. You become so close with the others in your program in such a short amount of time. Who doesn’t want to travel to a different country every weekend? This is so easy to do when you are studying abroad. You will be able to check off those places you have always wanted to go to in no time. If I could relive any part of my life, it would hands-down be the four months that I lived in Italy. So, if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, please do it!

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Sarah Shearer

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

When you spend a long time building something up, it can be hard to tear down. This is true for perceptions, identities, and physical places, too. Having lived in the same house in the same city for eighteen years, I only knew one home. A singular point on the map. And while going to college had begun to shift that perspective in me, studying abroad is what really shook things up and threw out the “one home” absolute in my head once and for all. The first time I opened the door to my home stay in January, it felt like someone else’s house (it was), and I didn’t know how to picture myself coming back there day after day. But, somehow, I did. I made it a home for myself. Not only there, but I began to live in a state of constant “at home-ness” at the end of the day, no matter where I ended up: whether it was in bed at my home stay, in an Airbnb in Malta, sharing a room with strangers at a hostel in Munich, trying to get comfortable on a bus going through the Alps, or stretched out across a row of chairs in the Amsterdam airport. It wasn’t always easy or comfortable, but that’s a big part of how going abroad changed me (and most people, I’m willing to bet): you learn to accept it. Whatever “it” is. When you’re not in the place where you grew up, and people have different ways of life in different corners of the world, you have two choices: turn around, or buckle up and go forward. These were four months of going forward for me, and now I can never go back.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say? 

Imagine opening your eyes one morning and staring out at a place you’ve only seen before in pictures pasted to your ceiling and on cell phone commercials. But instead of just a vacation, you’re there to experience society in its purest form: Make friends from all over the world, buy broccoli at the market, go to school, develop personal cheese preferences, wave “hello” to locals, and become a regular at a café. These are the realities of studying abroad, and they are there and waiting for you to experience in any way that you will. Maybe the hardest part is making up your mind to go and then making the arrangements. I know that’s the case for some. Make the decisions anyway. Pull up a word document on your computer and get a hit list together. Pick up the phone and call your university’s study abroad department and ask for help. I hope you do it. You can make all the plans you want for the future, and it’s quite possible they’ll come true. It’s also possible they won’t and you’ll find yourself making it up as you go. The great thing about college is that it is NOW. These years are alive and they are yours in your hands. If international education and travel are on your “bucket list,” pull them into your reality and make it happen before life starts to shift around after college and gets formed and reformed by careers and families. Only you know what you really want, and if you let it pass you by, no one will be there to cry over lost opportunities with you. That will be your pill to swallow. So, if “traveling someday” is what you want, maybe think about changing it to “traveling next year.”

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Shannon Appel

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

As I was going through the study abroad process, I was told over and over how this would change my life and I would come out of it a different person. I have heard this several times but never quite understood what they meant until I experienced it myself. I came into the program a little skeptical because I had never been out of the country before, I had literally no idea what to expect. All I have heard was stories from other students and my family telling me I needed to be careful and a few things about the city that I had read online. Being thrown into this new place was the best thing to ever happen to me. I have become a happier, more positive person, and I have acquired so many new skills while being abroad. I was very lucky because I had the most amazing group. The people in my group were from all over the U.S. I was able to become very close with each one and learn from them. These people were the biggest reasons I loved being abroad so much. You are able to build such close connections with everyone you meet because everyone is going through the same experience. Whenever I felt home-sick or nervous about something, having people that I could talk to and be with was so helpful. There were times we traveled to new countries and we would get lost or miss a train and have to figure out what we were going to do without help from our mom and dad. We had to learn how to problem solve and stay positive always and made me so much more of an independent and well-grounded person. One of the biggest things I learned was to appreciate everything around you and not to rush through everything. I truly feel as if I have grown so much as a person in just a few months. I have made the best memories and even better friends and I could not be more thankful for my time abroad.

2. One of the best parts about studying abroad? Getting to travel to other cities and countries! Here are my top travel tips:

My favorite part about studying abroad in Spain (other than the siestas) was getting to experience the unique traditions and holidays celebrated throughout the city. One of my personal favorites was the holiday called Carnival. It was such a cool experience because the entire city came out all dressed up in costumes and we got to dance and enjoy the multiple concerts down La Rambla with all of the locals. They have so many different holidays and celebrations, my biggest tip would be to figure out what dates those are and plan to stay in your city those weekends. They really are a great way to get a feel for the culture and have a fun time and maybe even meet a few locals. Of course traveling to other countries was amazing as well. Sometimes your program will have their own activities that are super fun, so make sure you take advantage of those.

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Shannon Egan

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

Personally, I believe every experience, good or bad, shapes who you are. When I went abroad, I did not know anyone and I had never been to my host country, making it a big step out of my comfort zone and naturally providing me with an incredible experience where I learned a lot about myself. The three most influential parts of my study abroad experience include the friends I made, the food I ate, and the language I was immersed in.

My roommate was from China and taught me all about Chinese culture. This gave me an amazing opportunity to not only immerse myself in French language and culture, but also learn about Chinese language and culture. She would say the funniest things at the most unexpected times, handled change effortlessly, and was endlessly kind. I made four other lifelong friendships over the semester. They pushed me to be my best self, expanded my horizons about American culture (as they were also Americans), and were some of the most loving people I have ever met. Most importantly, they shared their faith and reawakened a deeper kind of faith within me.

THE FOOD! Every day we went to the market and get fresh vegetables and fruits. More importantly, the chocolate and bread were to die for and I still drool thinking about them. After four months of a creating a perfect balance of healthy meals and impulsive daily sweets, I ended up being my healthiest self. If you add the amount of walking on top of clean food (of both healthy and unhealthy foods), you will be amazing how your body will change for the better.

Lastly, I improved my French skills after making a couple of French friends and it gave me a new perspective on how to view the world. Have you ever picked up a Bible in other language and tried to understand your favorite verse in a new language? Give it a shot, analyze it, dig deep, and you’ll be amazed how words can be expressed so beautifully.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

My favorite class had to be "Muslim Presence in Europe" because my professor was energetic, extremely intelligent, passionate, and took us outside the classroom. She was originally from Palestine, then moved to the US where she taught at Princeton, and then moved to France to teach.

In the classroom, her efforts and passion for diverse cultures showed just as much. She did not identify as anyone but herself and did not label herself a certain religion. She spoke only facts about what was occurring outside the classroom with Muslims in Europe, which allowed us students to form our own opinions. She provided us with articles to read, brought up current issues in the news, and took us on three different field trips so we could understand the topic from a variety of angles. She was able to bring her energy everyday to class and enthrall us with her knowledge.

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Taylor VanMaele

Alumni Ambassador
*Ask me about internships!
1. How has the study abroad experience shaped you?

I truly think studying abroad has made me into a different person. After being in Spain for two short months, I feel so much more independent. I think studying and interning abroad gave me more confidence. I had to do a lot of things alone, like getting to work and navigating the city. Those things once had me very nervous at first, but by the end of my program, I did not even bat an eye to them. I think flying alone and doing this whole experience without knowing anyone has given me confidence I never thought I would have. I feel like I could do anything in the world now, like nothing can get in my way.


2. How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

 

This experience of interning in Spain has really made me think about what I want for my future. I always thought I would move away for my career because Michigan has never truly felt like home, but I did not know where or how I could do it. After spending two months in a Spanish office, I finally realized what I wanted to do. This experience made me realize that Europe could easily be my home, Spain specifically. I have recently been looking into jobs in Spain because after living there for a few months, I know it is the place for me. Because of the great experience CEA gave me, I think helping other students go abroad could be a good career path for me as well. 

Being able to intern abroad has opened my eyes to so many possibilities I have never thought of before, and it excites me to think about what the future has in store. Going abroad made me want to create bigger goals and work harder to accomplish them
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Victoria Feliciano

Alumni Ambassador

1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?   

I surrounded myself with Spanish as much as I could before the trip, practicing with the people who knew Spanish and changing the language of my phone to Spanish! The key for me was being comfortable to make mistakes. Once I was immersed into the language in Spain, I used the vocabulary I knew to convey my message as fluidly as possible. I also made sure to pay close attention to the Sevillanos speaking around me and picked up on the way of the culture.

2. What were your favorite spots in the city?

Sevilla, Spain has a lot to offer whether you are interested in trying new foods, visiting museums and parks or modern monuments. I would highly recommend meeting a local and asking questions about the history of Spain, because it helps you understand the life of a Sevillano, and it connects you with something much bigger than yourself. The history not only presents itself in museums or monuments but also as something as subtle as the name of the streets. I would also recommend eating out for tapas at night, when life is bustling and the air is cooler. Real Alcazar is a huge place you should not miss! Give yourself a couple of days to see the entire beauty.

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William Manson

Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?

My study abroad experience has shaped me in many ways. I learned a lot about who I am during the fifty total days I was abroad. I had never been away for home or from the United States that long during my entire life. It was like an incredible coming of age ceremony. I am twenty, nearly an adult by societal standards, but so far away from truly being one. The experiences I had during my summer in 2017 have left an incredible mark on who I am as a man and how I want to continue to attain that mark in the future. It stoked the embers of a burning desire to travel. I saw seven countries and fourteen cities. I saw people, places, and cultures that 99 percent of my age group has never seen before and maybe never will. But, as I sit here and reflect on the memories and all I saw and did, I cannot help to think....what else is out there? I want to travel more because of this experience. I want to go to Eastern Europe, not just Western Europe where I studied in Barcelona. I do not just want to see Europe, I want to see every continent. I want to see the world. There is so much to see and so much to learn. I want to work hard and achieve success in life so I have the ability to travel.

I also just learned so much that I become a much better-rounded person. I learned to cook while in Europe. I had never really cooked before and I almost had to learn or I wouldn't eat! But I took that skill back with me as some tangible evidence of my growth as a person. Studying abroad really did help shape who I am sitting here today, writing this. I am forever grateful for it.

2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?

I would say I made the choice to study abroad too. I had the debates in my head. Should I do this? I am scared, it may be expensive… whatever fear you had - I had it as well. Despite those concerns, I am sitting here right now imploring you to do this. It is the most incredible experience you will ever have in your life. You will learn so much about who you are, you will gain so many lifelong memories, and you will meet so many amazing people. This is not some study abroad person telling you to do it. I am a student. I am your peer. I am telling you right now that this experience is unparalleled. You have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on your own life! Trust me, if you do it you will not regret it. The only thing you will regret is not taking a chance and studying abroad when you had it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Take it.

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