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Abigail Haley
Alumni Ambassador
1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

During my first few weeks in Paris, I made sure to head out on my own as often as possible. This exercise in self-confidence had me learning the French language, style, and manner before ever even stepping foot in the classroom. As I adjusted to my new learning community I found the CEA Staff to be valuable resources for my cross cultural journey. They introduced me to places, dishes and activities that were beyond my knowledge as a traveller. I also developed some close relationships with fellow students who gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and into the local culture.

2. What was your favorite course abroad?

My favorite course abroad (and my favorite course of my college career) was 19th Century Art: Impressionism and Post Impressionism. This art course was catered to the city, and often took place in museums, exhibitions and installations. This interactive way of learning made the city come alive. It reminded me that places at home are worth exploring as well, and gave me an appreciation for places and things I'd dismissed as mundane instead of familiar. This new perspective reinvigorated my passion for making the arts accessible for everyone; I enjoyed this class so much I want others to experience the same joy through learning.
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Abigail Suleman
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

Taking walks and interacting with food were the primary ways I engaged with the Parisian and French culture. On my last day in Paris, I walked around in a nearby park, observing the people who lounged with a partner, walked their dogs, or jogged along the path. I felt like I played an active part, even when I paused to take pictures. While in America I would talk loudly and smile at strangers, but here, I treasured my smile “as a gift.” During these simple and frequent walks, I felt as though I LIVED in Paris.
I also enjoyed France and specifically Paris as I shopped for, cooked, and ate several dishes. Biweekly, there was a fresh market with several pop-up stands lining the street in front of my apartment. I would brave the heat and approach the French vendors for their delicious cherries, a fruit I had hated to eat at home. I bargained and searched, strengthening my French in order to get a better deal. I learned that the French prefer you try to speak French than to expect them to know English. I also prepared several creative dishes for myself and ate out with my peers.


2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

When I left Paris, I joked with my friends that I had become significantly more composed and mature as a person. I giggled after I said that, but in part, it is true. For about four weeks, I sat in meetings that were almost 100% in French, translated for my peers, and tried to engage patiently in bilingual conversations with my amazing internship supervisor. Slowly, I learned about the Parisian response to homelessness for women, children, men, immigrants, refugees, and those suffering from mental disorders. Since then, I have developed my intercultural professional skills and gained a greater respect for the inter-professional work of healthcare providers and social workers in their service. My observations have inspired me to use my position in Campus Housing as the Assistant Director of Service for the National Residence Hall Honorary to support Chicago’s homeless. I have recently led two kit packing events that assist people who are hungry and those who menstruate but cannot afford the necessary hygiene products. Applying the lessons I learned in Paris allows me to appreciate and notice the integration of health, social work, and the prevalent homeless population here in Chicago.
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Alexandra Isabell
Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has personally and professionally enriched me because it changed the way I interact with others and even the manner of my self talk. The experience of going abroad allows one to become closer to themselves by observing themself in a new environment. I learned how to intereact with people different from myself, sometimes without sharing a common language! I learned how to respect the space of others even when the definition of respect changes between our cultures. There is so much that I learned abroad that I carry with me each day. Most importantly, it is curiosity, compassion, and a love for people and art that reminds me of my time abroad.

 

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

Honestly, because I can't stop thinking of Paris. I traveled from CEA in the Marais to CDG and home to the USA on May 11th, 2018. A year later I cannot be more gratful for my experience with CEA. I miss my professors and the material they taught with intention and passion. I miss doing something new, and something scary every single day, but having the best day ever. Since my time abroad, I find myself speaking about the experiences and the cultural value I have pulled from them constantly. I reccomend study abroad to every student I have the chance to and I would love to be able to do this more formally as an Alumni Ambassador for CEA. Lastly, I want to be an Alumni Amabssador because I want to put the 1,000s of brilliant photographs I took abroad to use and share more of my insight with future CEA students.

 

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Alexis O'Sullivan
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

While abroad, I had an internship. Through my boss, a Parisian native, I was able to learn the best spots to eat and shop. By getting insight into their food and fashion, I was able to better understand the local culture. I also loved to sit at a cafe, people watching and practicing my French with the waiters. Observing Parisians from a cafe, a quintessential part of Parisian culture, helped me immerse myself in my new home.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experienced has shaped me both professionally and personally. It inspired me to take a position at the study abroad office at my college so I can help others have the same incredible experience that I did. It has helped me on job interviews because I have many unique experiences to discuss It also helped challenge me to be more responsible and independent. It made me more comfortable with being myself and doing things on my own.

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Alice Johnson
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture? 

I came into Florence with no idea what to expect. I hadn't traveled much before going to Italy and the only culture I experienced in my life is the native Alaskan culture from my hometowns. This experience was unique in the fact that I was living within the culture. I was not just living in an Italian apartment but also meeting new people from around the world every day. I met Italian people my age and was able to tell them about American "culture" while they recommended the best places to go to eat, etc.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course while I was abroad was my Family Business class. My teacher was very interactive and I responded to that style well. The class information related to me because I am taking over my family business and I was able to receive insight into how to go about that. Also, I was able to read about a family business then go and see it. For example, we read about the Ferrari family business, then the next weekend, as a class we went to Modena and visited the Ferrari museum.
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Alicia Bowers
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Experiencing the local culture abroad started with getting to know my host family, asking questions about their day to day lives in Seville, the traditional cuisine and the holidays they celebrate. Additionally, I attempted to be involved in school activities as much as possible, I joined a recreational volleyball team at UPO there I met a lot people including some local people who were from Seville who became my friends and intercambios. Lastly, I made sure I attended local festivals like Semana Santa and Feria this is where I was able to really immerse myself in the local culture.

2.  Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

During my time here in Seville I had time to think about how I would like to leverage my experience abroad, one of the ways I would like to do this is encourage other students study abroad, especially students of color and low-income students. I think study abroad is something more students should experience in college. I would like to be a resource for other students who are considering studying abroad.

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Alison Kubeny
Alumni Ambassador

1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

Living with a host family was the best way for me to immerse myself in Chilean culture. Spending time with them doing day-to-day activities (like eating, shopping, or going to church together) made me feel like I was a part of something bigger, and like I belonged. In hardly no time at all, I felt like I was a real part of the family and the culture, not just a temporary visitor.

2. What was your favorite course abroad?

My favorite class I took abroad was undoubtedly Cultura Chilena (Chilean Culture). I loved learning about the history, people, language, food, music, and more that shaped the environment I was in. It made my entire experience abroad more meaningful because I was able to connect to my surroundings with a deeper level of understanding for them.

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Andrew Monk
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

 I could have never imagined that I would learn as many things as I did during my time abroad. I learned many things about myself, other cultures, other people, the list goes on. I learned independence, confidence, and problem-solving through challenges and everyday life. I always knew that I wanted to go abroad and one day I just signed up to do it. The program I went on allowed me to take major required classes and electives that are not offered at my home university. I made so many friends while I was there that I still talk to everyday. These are the college friends that will continue on in my life forever. This semester was so important for me to escape a small city mindset and the typical American perspective. I think this was the most vital piece of my time there. I learned that I want to work for a company that has branches around the world because there are so many beautiful places that I want to see.

 

2. How would you convince someone to study abroad?

Studying abroad is like nothing else. It opens so many doors physically and mentally. A lot of the European students I met have been traveling their entire lives and speak multiple languages. Most of the other Americans in my group have rarely left their own area. There is a great difference between the two and I believe that culture is the reason behind it. Digging deep into culture and how others live is a huge reward of going abroad. We always need to be learning new things and understanding that we are not all the same.

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Angela D'Amato
Alumni Ambassador
1. What would you tell someone considering studying abroad? 

I would tell a friend to study abroad because it is a life-changing experience. There is so much more to the world than just America and what we're used to. Not only are you able to learn about a new culture but you also find out more about yourself. It doesn't matter where you study because no location is the same and each place will teach you many different things that you can't learn anywhere else. Study abroad has been one of the greatest experience in my life and I highly recommend looking at all the different places that are available and seeing where the world could take you.
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Anjali Patel
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

I experienced many cultural differences between the U.S. and the U.K.. Some of those differences I found while I was in London include drinking tea, differences in words, the quietness of British people, the amount of drinking, etc. For the most part, I was not surprised by these cultural differences because I had and have family who live in London and have gone there a few times before. However, I did start assimilating to some cultural norms, such as drinking tea. I was never a fan of tea until I went to London and almost everyone British person would offer me to. From then on, tea became a part of my every day routine. Drinking was also something that I knew about but I did not know the extent to which it went. My internship would have work related events where people would get so drunk that they would go to the hospital or pass out at the event. I have never been a big drinker, so no matter where I went I limited how much I drank but I assimilated to the cultural norm. These are just some examples of how I experienced the local culture while studying in London.

 

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experienced changed me for the better. I became so much more open as a person when I didn’t used to be before. In London, many of the students would strive up conversations with me without even knowing me and that boosted a lot of my confidence. Also, have an internship and being in a professional setting allowed me to open up, as well. Career wise, the fact that I did an internship abroad will definitely look good on my resume. Just the fact that I studied abroad will look good on my resume. This will make my internship search a whole lot more easier because I have differentiated myself from 95% of the other applicants.

 

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Anna Galindo
Alumni Ambassador
1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

While I was studying in Dublin I had several opportunities to experience and dive into the local culture. One of my favorite things to do during my time in Ireland was to go to all the small local pubs and hear all the live music and in some cases even go out on the floor and learn some of the Irish dancing. Through this experience I got to connect with a lot of locals and really learn about the importance of their music and coming together as a community. Another way I got to experience the culture was whenever I would talk to locals I would always ask them what they recommended seeing or doing around Ireland which lead me to some of my favorite times abroad. There was one weekend my friends and I took a trip to the very south of Ireland to a little village called Kinsale and we hiked up to an old 1600's fort that was right on the water and were able to learn the history behind it and the significance of it to the village of Kinsale. Another conversation with a local in Galway ended with me learning the story and importance of the Claddagh ring and how huge the tradition is to the Irish people.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Overall I would say that my study abroad experience has made me more confident in myself and my abilities. Before going abroad I tended to be more shy and hesitant in participating in different activities around campus. But since being back I have spoken on several study abroad panels to try and encourage others to go abroad, before going abroad I would have never thought about doing any public speaking voluntarily. I also have been able to make more international friends because I am more confident in my communication skills with international students because of all the practice I got while studying abroad.

Studying abroad also opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available abroad and how much there is to see in the world. Without going abroad I would not be looking into Master programs over seas and would not be as interested in International Business and Marketing as I am today.



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Anna Hukill
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has reaffirmed that I would like to work with children and adolescents in a school setting in a supportive role - either as a teacher or psychologist. It also inspired me to return to Spain and I have applied for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to spend a year teaching English in Spain. I have also gained more family members through my host family and developed friendships that I know will last forever.

 

2. What do you wish you had known before studying abroad? 

I wish I had pushed myself to look into internships because I could have gotten even more involved in the community. This also would have helped me learn about psychology in Barcelona, but luckily I was able to volunteer in local elementary schools and see their school system and teaching methodology.

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Anna Sullivan
Alumni Insider

1.How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Whether it was walking alongside Galway's lively Shop Street or exploring nearby abandoned castles, I made a goal for myself to find the hidden gems of the city. I also sought out recommendations from my Irish housemates and from other locals to immerse myself in the culture.

 

2. What do you had wish you'd known before going abroad?

Before studying abroad I wish I would have known the amount of on-site support CEA provides. In Ireland, my on-site director held multiple events for our group to bond and he was able to be contacted at anytime. He provided enough support for all of his students to feel comfortable exploring the local culture while providing resources in case we were homesick and to learn about the Irish culture.

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

Studying abroad has reaffirmed my desire to move to Europe; however, at the same time, it has made me realize that there's a future for me in more than one place. I genuinely feel as if I left a piece of my heart in each place I visited and I would consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to work in any of those places one day. CEA and my experience abroad has also opened me up to connections in multiple different countries. I feel confident that I will be able to make me goals a reality after I graduate thanks to my experience with CEA.

2. What do you wish you had known before going?

I wish I would have done more research about local places to go to. Coming to the end of the semester abroad and then finding all these places at once I wanted to try, I was not able to get to them all. I would say, if anything, it is important to be open to all opportunities and to constantly seek out new places to try.
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Ashleigh Litcofsky
Alumni Insider

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I thought about becoming an Alumni Ambassador because I absolutely loved working with CEA as a MOJO Photographer and I love to share my study abroad stories. I feel that becoming an Alumni Ambassador would give me an outlet to share my experience with prospective students, as well as other Alumni. This would be a really great opportunity to encourage others to go abroad for the most important 4 months of their lives.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has allowed me to be much more aware of the cultures, politics, and lifestyles outside of the United States. Now, when I see something on the news about another country, it is more personal, because I have actually been to and seen the people in many of those places. Study abroad has made me realize that I can actually go anywhere. I'm not stuck in my suburban town forever; there is far too much to see!

 

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Ashley Binkowski
Alumni Insider

1. What are your tips for learning the language? 

Learning a new language is challenging, being in a country where the foreign language is spoken is very beneficial. One tip I can offer from being abroad is, don't be embarrassed to try out the new language you are learning to the locals. Trust me, they really appreciate the effort that you are trying to learn the language! It's great practice so don't be afraid.

2. What was your favorite class while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was Documentary Photography because I was able to capture beautiful photos and get credit for it! We had to work on a documentary project throughout our semester and then we showcased our project to all of our friends and classmates. Mine was on Skateboarders of Prague and I made so many friends through this project, so I am very happy I took this class.

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Ashley Cialone
Alumni Ambassador
1. What are your tips for learning the language?

This is what I would tell prospective students: “I’m going to be honest. Studying in a new country where they do not speak your first language is terrifying at first. However, do not get discouraged. By far, the best thing you can do is stay with a host family. They will take such good care of you and teach you all of the colloquialisms of the language without even knowing it. You will be forced to practice the language every day, and it may be exhausting at first, but after a few weeks, it feels so normal. I would recommend going to the country with an intermediate level of the language already. That way, you have foundational knowledge and do not become overwhelmed. Taking language classes while you are abroad is also key because the native professors offer new insights that you would likely never come across in the United States. Intercambios are also very helpful because you get to meet locals and practice the language in a relaxed environment. The amount of conversational improvement you can make in one month is incredible. Imagine two or more months. Being able to finally say you’re bilingual is such a huge accomplishment.”

2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Experiencing the local culture of Granada, Spain was one of my favorite aspects about studying abroad. I stayed with a host family, so I got to see first-hand the values and traditions of families in Spain. I also had to be very conservative of water and electricity use, and I even continued to be more conservative after returning to the United States. I would go out with friends or locals often because nightlife is very important to the culture of the people of Granada. We would go out for tapas, gelato, or go to a mirador of the Alhambra to enjoy the beautiful views and each other’s company. My friends and I also went to intercambio(exchange) events every Monday to speak with locals in Spanish and in English. It was also amazing to have professors who only spoke Spanish. They each shared unique insights and demonstrated their national pride. Speaking the language every day with professors, my host family, and my friends really helped me to immerse myself in the language and the beautiful culture. We also visited historical sites, like the Alhambra, to see the incredible architecture that was only a 20-minute walk from where we lived.
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Becky Fox
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course was Cultural Values & Stereotypes: Spain & the U.S. This being partly because of the course but mostly because of the teacher. Mary Alice organized it in a way for us to discuss what we're observing. We were taught concepts and theories, but most of the class involved discussions. I learned a lot about the culture in Sevilla, in Spain, and around Europe. We would start every class, with the question, “Did anyone encounter an interesting cultural experience?” This allowed us to really think about what we were encountering and ask ourselves why we thought it was different. I loved comparing stories with everyone in the class and learning about the small cultural differences we probably wouldn’t have noticed, if not being asked this question. This class was something spectacular. I am a Sociology major, meaning a lot of my classes delve into other cultures and people. Though, I have not been a part of a class as successful as this one. Yes, I was physically in another culture but it was more than that. We were taught to be global compassionate citizens and to really appreciate the differences we were encountering, whether we liked them or not.


2. What would you say to someone considering study abroad with CEA?  

There is a lot I would say but first, I would talk about the staff and especially the on-site staff I had. I was blown away with the help I got before I left, and even more blown away with the assistance I got while in Spain. Not only did our on-site staff care about making sure we could get around and have our things in order; they cared about us. I was greeted warmly every day by our on-site staff and they were likely to strike up a conversation with you about how you were doing or what your plans were for the weekend. We had our CEA excursion to Morocco. This trip opened my mind and my heart to the cultures around me, even those I might haven’t even known existed. If it wasn’t for CEA I wouldn’t have had this opportunity, and if it wasn't for our staff it wouldn't have been as special. They knew just how to prepare us and pose questions we could really think about, while we were there. Overall, I would express my gratitude for CEA and the unique sense of family I got while being a part of this program.
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Benjamin Lewis
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

Without a doubt, my favorite course was España y Los Españoles (Spain and the Spanish People). Foremost, I can attribute this to the insights it provided me. We covered a wide array of subjects from national politics, to the cultural shifts Post-Franco. I began to explore Spanish musicians we had heard in class and could actively participate in conversations with locals about the current state of the country. Our instructor would make sure we took this knowledge outside of the classroom as well and assigned projects that required us to team up and explore new parts of the city to share with the rest of the class. I felt that without this class my experience would have been lacking. In addition to the background knowledge this course put me in a great position to hone my Spanish skills as well. The class was quite small, just six people including myself, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. It was a Spanish only course and therefore I was in a position to not only learn grammar, but to engage in extended conversations.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My experience abroad will have a positive impact on my professional endeavors, but still this comes second to the feeling of personal development this trip provided me. This was the first time I was truly independent, farther than a hour from home, and in the position to dictate everything about my day to day experiences. The prospect of both being in a major city, but also one that did not speak my native tongue, made anything else I had to face at home seem like childs-play. I came home feeling much more emboldened and confident, ready and willing to take on whatever challenge came my way. Though my repeated successes in these day to day challenges it built me up to feel that I was in a position to handle anything.

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Benjamin Shoemaker
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course while abroad?

My favorite course was my computer engineering class. It's one of those classes that you know has been gifted by the lucky stairs: the teacher is nice, you enjoy the class, and you clearly just met your new best friend from Germany.

2.  How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Personally, my study abroad experience has shaped me to be a dynamic person that is no longer stagnant on the whistle blow. It has taught me that when they raise that whistle, you have to be ready to go.
As for my career, it has definitely taught me to be a better leader. Leading a class exercise is one thing, but navigating Prague decisively and clearly with the people in your group is a whole other challenge and I am proud to usefully bring that to the table at any job.
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Benjamin Vogel
Alumni Ambassador
1. What are your tips for learning the language?

I did not study another language while abroad. To learn from my mistakes, I would advise prospective students to learn a little bit of the local language. I taught myself basic Spanish on DualLingo before arriving to Barcelona and the little Spanish I learned greatly helped when conversing with locals. It became especially useful when I had questions regarding the Metro system or navigating throughout the city. That being said, if you do not speak the native tongue, do not let that dissuade you from studying abroad! While practice makes perfect, it is possible to navigate through most places with only speaking English. I would recommend learning basic phrases (Ex: “Where’s the bathroom?”). Worst case scenario there is Google Translate.

2. What got you interested in being an ambassador for study abroad?

Before the Summer of 2019, I had never been to Europe. I had no idea what to expect. CEA offered numerous resources for me and other prospective students. One amazing resource was an Alumni Ambassador who reached out to me a month before my program started. She was able to answer each of my questions, while offering facts and ideas I had not even thought of (the days started a bit later in Barcelona compared to USA, Lunch is usually had at 2:00 PM-3:00 PM and dinner at 9:00 PM-10:00 PM). Not only did the Alumni Ambassador mentally prepare me for what I was about to land in, it saved me much time and allowed me to hit the ground with a list of what to expect and what to look out for. My experience would have been drastically different had I not had that resource available to me. 
As a CEA alumni, I know what prospective students worry about. There are many logistical questions that when answered can ease someone’s stress and allow them to solely focus on their upcoming experience of a lifetime. I want to offer that resource.
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Brianna Bence
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course by far was International Marketing with Damien Kelly. Our class was relatively small with about twelve students, and not only was the course extremely interesting, but he made it so much fun. Marketing is my field of study, and as I am interested in the international workplace, this course made sense for me to take. Not only did I learn so much, but I was challenged with real-world situations to think through and activities and field trips with the class that made the information stick so well. One day we just went to a nearby store and answered questions about how it was set up and the marketing they used, while another day we played a "game" for the entire class about trading and using resources and time wisely in order to gain an advantage. Although we worked hard and had multiple presentations and exams, I learned so much more about marketing, and am so grateful for the lessons learned through International Marketing.

2. Talk about how you experienced the local culture while abroad

Two days after arriving in Dublin, I visited a local church right in the city, and this ended up being an incredible way to experience the local culture and immerse myself in the Dublin way of life. Most Sundays I ended up spending at least half the day with these new friends, many of whom had lived in Ireland their entire lives. We would go to pubs, have a backyard barbecue, see a new Irish movie, and explore the local restaurants and cities. This was an amazing way to get a view into the life of a Dubliner and to get to live alongside them as well. One of my friends and I also decided to set up a weekly "tea time" in the city, and by the end of the semester we had been able to visit eleven different tea shops throughout Dublin. Tea is a huge part of the Irish culture, and this was a really neat and unique way to be a part of it and feel like a local as we sipped our pots of tea and bit into our fresh scone with butter and homemade jam. One of my favorite things to do on nice days was simply to take a walk to Phoenix park and join the families, couples, and students on the grass and bring a book to read or study. Little things like these made me feel so much more at home in my new environment, and it helped me adapt so quickly to the Irish culture.

 

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Bridgette Stolyar
Alumni Insider

1. What do you wish you had known before going?

Have. No. Expectations. Your experience will be a thousand times more positive if you aren't anticipating what almost every single person anticipates: "Oh my gosh, will it be the best time of my life or will I struggle to find friends and feel lonely?" That is not something to worry about at all! Once you allow yourself to be open-minded and receptive to friendly people, making friends and enjoying the culture only gets easier and easier. Studying abroad is the most beneficial thing you can do for your individual character, just relax!!!!

 

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

Studying abroad will give your life a whole new meaning with different experiences, memories, hardships and successes. Studying abroad with CEA will make your journey smooth as butter, as they will help you with every single step, including assistance with courses at your home university, provide your housing options, and offer scholarships to help with your finances. Beyond that, CEA makes being alone in a foreign country less stressful at the host-country by helping you get acclimated to your neighborhood and the city, plans incredible trips that are included in your tuition, and the on-site staff is always ready to answer any possible question you could have!

 

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Brigid Nealon
Alumni Ambassador
1. Talk about how you experienced the local culture while abroad?

I decided to study in Aix-en-Provence to improve my French language skills. Every time I stepped out the door, I was immersed in the French culture, language, and lifestyle. I ate French food, spoke with French people, and shopped in French stores. I had the incredible opportunity to authentically live a lifestyle other than the one I was so comfortable living in.


2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?
If you are ready for an adventure far out of your comfort zone, study abroad is for you. If you want to improve your language skills, study abroad is for you. If you want to expand your knowledge, study abroad is for you. You will learn about the world and about who you are. It is challenging, but worth it. The more you put into your experience, the more you will take away from it.
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Brittany Fernandes
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Prior to my study abroad experience, I always pursued unfamiliar endeavors with an undercurrent of uncertainty. Throughout this semester, each endeavor I pursued moved me further outside the bounds of my comfort zone. These experiences helped me to develop confidence and a sense of independence. I also saw myself adapting and being flexible in the face of unforeseen events, whereas in the past it could be a source of concern. Through the immersive experience of my home stay, I was able to experience French culture directly and improved my French fluency. The exposure to different perspectives through my classes at SKEMA and my home stay allowed me to develop tolerance and open-mindedness. Each opportunity allowed me to ask the questions necessary to understand the perspectives that led to the different interpretations. These various traits are invaluable to a current job seeker within any career field.

 

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

Selecting CEA as your study abroad provider allows the necessities to taken care of. CEA provides guidance over the course of your application, program acceptance, and during your time spent abroad. Through CEA, the housing options are situated relatively close to areas frequented by the area’s locals and the area’s student population. The CEA organized excursions that will offer participants the opportunity to visit regional sites of interest that may be more difficult for students to visit independently. The Program Director is also an amazing resource if problems occur or if you have any questions. When I mentioned my interest in volunteering within the community, our Program Director was able to introduce me to an organization’s local director. I was able to start the following week! CEA is a provider that will get you situated in your study abroad location. Throughout the semester, you will constantly have access to resources and professional staff who will help you make the most of your experience!

 

 

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Caitlin Cain
Alumni Ambassador

1. What do you wish you had known before going?

One thing I wish I had known before studying abroad would be to really make sure you are financially secure and really plan a budget for your trip. Bigger cities in Europe are very expensive and while you will encounter very cheap flights and suddenly you want to travel everywhere every weekend, you have to take into account how much actually being in the cities (fun, food, hostels, transportation) is going to cost. Those things add up quickly. Nearing the end of our study abroad my roommate, who did not budget efficiently enough at the beginning of our trip, ended up running out of money and had to cancel trips and stop going out around Sevilla with us because she could no longer keep up with the payment schedule she had set up with CEA. Before you go abroad look at the higher end of the budget that CEA gives on the website and shoot for that. Pick out the top places you would want to travel to and plan a budget accordingly.

 

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me into a more confident, independent, and capable person. It helped me improve my skills with intercultural and cross-cultural communication as well as with my language skills. Because I was living in a complete different country in a completely different culture, I feel I am able to problem solve faster and more efficiently using different methods and have found myself to be way more adaptable than I was before. I have been able to find my way around foreign countries alone with a language barrier, with little knowledge of the customs, where I did not know a single person, and I was robbed or lost. As I would like to be a study abroad advisor as my career learning to communicate effectively across cultures and to learn a language and just being apart of a study abroad program including all the traveling I did was extremely helpful to my future career goals.

 

 

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Caitlin Westmoreland
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I would like to be an alumni ambassador because I want other students to have a similar experience as I and others have had. To reiterate, not many people get this opportunity and I want to encourage others to take it if they get the chance. I'd want to be a person that others can come to for help and advice regarding a CEA program. I would gain important experience from this role that will help me in my professional career.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Growing up, I never moved around, I lived in the same house my whole life besides leaving for college; going abroad was one of the first times I was truly independent and able to have freedom. It taught me how to think on my feet, use critical thinking skills, and most importantly, it taught me confidence. I am more confident than I have ever been and thank that for being abroad. It gave me the confidence within my personal life and within my education. Three weeks can change a person, I can only imagine what a year would be like.
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Caley Griebenow
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I was passionate about traveling before I studied abroad, and making it a reality was a goal of mine since starting college over two years ago. Now, I believe leaving a comfortable bubble in the states is so important for students to not only see and experience an unfamiliar place, but to see what you're really made of when you don't speak the language, maybe don't have the cash, don't know where anything is, and no adults are readily available to help. Studying abroad has countless benefits, in my opinion, ones that don't truly emerge until the time abroad is almost up. I'm so fortunate and grateful for the opportunities awarded to me while I've been here in Prague. Leaving will certainly be bittersweet, but I'm excited to share my passion for study abroad when I return home.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course was Prague Art and Architecture. My professor was this wonderfully knowledgeable Prague native who took us all over the city to visit different museums, parks, cathedrals, castles, gardens, and more to witness firsthand how Prague's history was shaped by famous rulers and eras. He took us to places I know I would not have gone on my own, all while providing vital information about historical and artistic value. To learn about art, it makes the most sense to see and experience the art in person, not just from a power point, which is precisely what we did. I also respect the professor, who is bilingual and explained everything so well in English despite that not being his native language.
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Camille Norton
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course abroad? 

Photography or Global Environmental Politics. I loved my photography professor and truly appreciated her direct feedback, honesty, and above and beyond willingness to help. I went into that class a complete amateur and left feeling confident that I, at least, understood the concepts and principles of photography as well as really knowing my camera. As for Global Environmental Politics, as an Environmental Issues minor, I really appreciated this diverse and eye-opening perspective on this topic. It was hefty reading and a lot of in-class discussions but very thought-provoking and opened my mindset which ultimately will make me more understanding and effective as a communicator. 

2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

My experience with the southern French culture was extraordinary. I made sure to go out of my way to meet French students and engage in their lifestyles. I made a ton of friends and learned so much about their habits and routines. From the way in which students interact to Cafe Culture to la bise, the everyday culture of these French students, I felt became my own. I regularly met with students from le FAC between classes and got coffee or lunch. I went out on the weekends with them for aperitifs, to the bars, and out to the local clubs. The nightlife culture in France is so different and something I really appreciated. The students were very welcoming and wanted to mix between speaking English and French so we could all improve our skills. Overall, an amazing experience.

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Carey Kocur
Alumni Insider

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I had such an incredible experience abroad, interning for a family business, traveling all over Europe, and taking memorable classes with knowledgeable professors, that I would love to share my experiences with others and help students in their abroad journey. I specifically would enjoy talking to students about the internship program and if it would be the right fit for them.


2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I truly enjoyed all of my abroad classes. I took Family Business and Entrepreneurship with Clive Woolland, Food and Wine with Patritzia, Beginning Italian 1 with Angelo, and an Internship Seminar for my international internship. One of my favorite courses that I took abroad was the internship seminar class with Argentina Giusti. While interning for Shake Cafe in Florence, Italy, I was able to analyze the Italian way of business and dive deeper into my internship with this class.
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Caroline Rudloff
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Before studying abroad I had never traveled anywhere by myself, I didn’t leave my hometown for college, and I wouldn’t have considered myself adventurous. By the end of my study abroad experience I felt very capable and confident in myself. I’m sure there's nothing I can’t handle.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I never even thought about studying abroad before someone asked me "why not?". I want to be the person who inspires other people to at least take a look into something that I'm very grateful I got to do.
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Caroline Thompson
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has gone beyond shaping career or personal aspects of my life —it has shaped my life as a whole. All exaggerations aside, being abroad was an eyeopening revelation, unfolding a plan for my life. I have come to realize that study abroad is not a mere phase in my life, rather something to which I want to dedicate my lifestyle. Various cultures are my passion, and Spain has my heart. My perspective on the world has broadened, and I see life from a worldly viewpoint instead of my narrowed, small-town mindset. Studying with CEA in Seville, being my second time studying abroad, has cultivated a passion within me for studies abroad. Therefore, I have come to realize that this is not the end of my journey through studies abroad, and I would like pursue an opportunity to teach abroad following my undergraduate degree. Furthermore, being an international studies and Spanish double major, I now hope to work for a study abroad program, such as CEA, in the future, inspiring others to find their passions through studies abroad as well.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad?

Although I can undoubtedly say that I thoroughly enjoyed each course that I took abroad, my favorite course was the one class that I took with CEA––The Culture of Food and Wine in Spain. This course encompassed more than merely the study of food and wine in Spain; rather, we learned extensive history behind the culture of Spain, leading to the development of such food and wine. The class took numerous excursions around the city to places such as Las Setas, El Mercado de Triana, and the Archivo de Indias, allowing us to see first-hand such historical sites. Additionally, the course took a hands-on learning approach when we took a cooking class right across from the Cathedral, creating local tapas of Seville such as salmorejo and tortilla de patatas. On top of everything, the course was taught completely in Spanish, which aided in my language acquisition skills, and it was taught by the kindest professor who was born and raised in Seville, adding to the authenticity of the course. Overall, I learned not only about local food and wine within Spain, but also about the ancient history of the culture of this long-established country.

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Cate Lewellyn
Alumni Ambassador
1.  What are your tips for learning the language? 

I would recommend that US students try to interact with the local students. It may be difficult to put yourself out there, especially with the language barrier, but you could make a lifelong friend while improving your language skills. Additionally, I would recommend living with a host family. Although I enjoyed the apartment I stayed in, living with fellow Americans does not give you as much of a daily opportunity to practice speaking a foreign language as a host family would.

2. What would you say to students considering studying abroad with CEA? 

You should study abroad with CEA because they have the best resources. Whether it be help with your student visa, questions about local culture, or program costs, there is always someone readily available to help. CEA Alicante was a smaller group of students, which I liked better because I got to know everyone really well. CEA helps create a home away from home for you, something that other programs sometimes don't get right.
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Cecily Widmann
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course abroad and why? 

My favorite study abroad course was Communication and Global Competency. The course makes students analyze their culture while learning another. In this class, I interacted with french students in their English class at University of Paris-Diderot. It was a unique experience. I got to learn a lot about French culture and society that I would never have known just studying at CEA.

 

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience changed the way I see the world. I have been considering going into diplomacy, working with the state department in foreign affairs. Studying in another country with a lot of foreign professors gives me alternate view of the United States I would not have seen on my own. The United States always seems to be the center of everything but, many countries around the world a distancing themselves. I want to help rebuild the US’ relationship with the world. But, I have been thinking about the concept of global competency. I have been in international based classes for a few years now and have never learned of this concept. Maybe I will try and introduce this to the American university system more widely.

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Dana Kaufhold
Alumni Ambassador

1. What do you wish you had known before going? 

If I could go back in time and tell myself anything before going abroad, I would want to know that it's not as imposing as it seems to integrate into a slightly different culture. While I was packing, I obsessed over every outfit choice, and I practiced my limited French to the point of overkill. I was terrified that the locals would be able to brand me on sight as just another American, and that I would somehow be unable to fully experience life in Paris. This was absolutely untrue. On the whole, most people just honestly don't pay that much attention to others, or at least not enough to notice every difference we see in ourselves. Everyone is too busy thinking about themselves to over-scrutinize anyone else. Once I got over my fear of appearing different, I was able to relax and have much more fun. Things weren't so different that I got extreme culture shock, so I'm sure that my observations are not applicable to everyone. However, on the whole, the goal of focusing outside oneself is one that every student abroad can definitely strive towards.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

We only took two courses, and both of them were very engaging, but I have to say that my favorite class that I took was called Writing in Paris. The curriculum was all based around writings done by American and English authors who lived in Paris in the early 20th century -- Hemingway, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and their other contemporaries. I was particularly enraptured by Hemingway's writings on his time living in Paris, entitled A Moveable Feast. Though the world had changed drastically in the years since Hemingway walked the streets of the Left Bank, much of what they were feeling at the time seemed to resonate through the ages and still ring true to me. I found truth written in 90-year-old words, and it was like I was reaching back through time and meeting these literary greats halfway through some kind of portal created by the city we both inhabited. Visiting the places where they lived -- a bar Hemingway favored, the apartment that Gertrude Stein lived in, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore -- only strengthened this connection. Writing about their writing in this class, therefore, came as second nature.
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Danielle Agnello
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has taught me so much about myself and my career aspirations. Through my study abroad experience I have greatly improved my French. Not only have I improved my French speaking skills, but I have also learned the French cultural expectations and mannerism in various settings. Aside from French, I have mastered the art of navigating around cities and becoming familiar with various public transportation systems. I have become extremely independent and self-sufficient, especially when traveling on my own. My time management skills have also sky-rocketed considering I have found a healthy balance between my weekend travels and weekly academic work. In terms of my career, I have learned that the fashion industry is definitely somewhere I see myself thriving, as I am extremely fascinated by it and want to continue to learn more about it. I have also decided that I am very interested in a job which enables me to travel a lot, possibly even starting my career abroad. I interned with a French company over this past Summer and have now applied to other French companies because of how much I loved working with them in addition to how in love I am with the city of Paris. On another note, I have learned how important it is to balance and separate your personal life and work life. The various experiences and opportunities I have had abroad have helped me to grow as not only a person, but as a student, and professional.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

Every city I went to I always walked as much as I possibly could. This may sound crazy, but I found myself stumbling upon local markets, hidden boutiques, and the most authentic restaurants while wandering through the city by foot. I also felt that it helped me learned to navigate and familiarize myself with the city streets. Don't get me wrong, the metro is a huge part of Parisian culture and I still took it quite often, but I learned to love walking since it allowed me to see the city and all of its quirks. With that said, the metro in Paris is exceptional and I am going to miss my morning and afternoon commute on the metro where I could just unwind, people watch, and have some downtime. The metro may be a public form of transportation but it's so clear that everyone is so caught up in their own worlds while riding it. I also experienced the local culture by dining at restaurants which flew under the radar and were off the beaten path, steering clear of all places which screamed tourist. When studying abroad I knew I would be labeled as a foreigner considering I was an American in European territory, but I tried my best to distance myself from all the tourist spots whenever I traveled to a new place. I did visit all the major monuments and museums, but I acted a certain way when doing so. There's a "tourist behavior" you want to avoid when traveling to foreign countries and cities in order to blend in and I made sure to follow that code and always remain conscious of my surroundings. Experiencing the local culture abroad has a lot to do with how you act and the level of respect you show towards each culture you're immersed in; the more open you are to fully engaging with that culture, the more opportunities and better overall time you'll have.
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Darien Perry
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Through this experience, I now realize how much I valued learning Spanish in a larger Spanish-speaking setting abroad. Embracing this opportunity allowed me to learn and view growth in my character, as well as assist members of the community with my native language. I want to continue expanding my education and aiding others, and having exposure to a larger social atmosphere through this program increased my cultural awareness and public speaking opportunities, and allowed me to continue having an active role in other’s lives.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I am a person who wants to continually improve and develop. The Alumni Ambassador Program will give me the opportunity to share the benefits of studying abroad through CEA to other students and give them the excitement to learn, as well as increase my knowledge and skillsets. It will also allow me to educate students on topics I wish someone had told me prior to studying abroad. It will offer much diversity and a plethora of opportunities for me to help others. One of the most compelling reasons to be an Alumni Ambassador is simple: I want to seek a challenging environment. More specifically, I desire to immerse myself in more leadership and educational opportunities than those available from my own city.
The Alumni Ambassador Program will uncover a range of different possibilities for me to engage in discourse with students and other CEA alumni. I believe in a strong student community and bringing people together. Having prior knowledge and experience to lead a group, as well as the proper training in college can help me accomplish greater initiatives within this program.

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Delaney Bresnahan
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

While I was studying abroad in Seville, Spain, I had the opportunity to experience the local culture through its people, food, and traditions. From both the small interactions I had on the street to the deep conversations I had with my host mom, I got to catch a glimpse into the lives of the local people. I took a course that was solely about the culture of Seville, and it was amazing to approach it from an academic standpoint as well. I also experienced the culture through Spain’s food and traditions. Staying with a host mom allowed me to taste the authentic flavors of a home-cooked Spanish meal and I even got to take a cooking class to learn specific techniques. While I was in Seville, the city hosted its two largest week-long events of the entire year—Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria de Abril. These two weeks are identifying characteristics of Andalusian culture. During the two different festivals, I was fortunate to have locals take me under their wing and show me how to appropriately approach and participate in the festivities. These glimpses into the culture are my most valued take-away of the entire semester.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

I would love to be a CEA Alumni Ambassador so that I can be a bridge between students at my university and the best experience of their lives. I am extremely passionate about study abroad and I couldn’t have been happier with my experience because of CEA. I would love to tell others about that experience while simultaneously advising and guiding them from the perspective of an individual who was in their exact same place. I remember meeting the CEA Alumni Ambassador at my school right before applying to go abroad and she was such a great encouragement to me that I was making the right choice. Even since returning home from my semester abroad this spring, I have had someone reach out to me about my specific program looking for advice and recommendations for when she applies. I loved guiding her and giving her further information and direction. To be able to partner with CEA in this role would help me to find more students and increase CEA’s reach at my university and beyond. I believe in CEA’s mission and would love to be a part of it moving forward.

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Diana Gerardo
Alumni Ambassador
 1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

My experience with the local culture in London began the second I stepped outside the door to my flat. In the six-minute walk to the nearest tube station (Old Street), I heard a diversity of languages, smelled kebabs, burgers, and falafels, and saw outfits so vibrant and daring that they deserved to walk the runway at Fashion Week. I came to attend football (a.k.a. soccer) games and felt the heat rising as the crowds chanted and sang for their teams to the point where the stadium itself was vibrating. I ate fish and chips, Sunday roast, and Yorkshire puddings at pubs. The best way to be immersed in the London spirit was to see the Christmas lights and the festivities that led to them being turned on. Everyone was quite friendly, handing out free hot chocolate, singing along to the Christmas tunes in the stores lining the street, and saying “Cheers”. I got to attend four of the many Christmas lightings with a classmate from uni and we got to meet people from so many backgrounds. No two people looked or acted alike in London, which was absolutely the most exciting part of being present in such movie-like moments.

2. What do you wish you had known before going abroad? 

I wish I would have known how important it is to appreciate every moment in this experience to the fullest and not fear having new experiences. The answer when debating if I should do something, even alone, should have been “yes”. Thankfully, the weekly CEA newsletter from our study abroad program director Cassandra was always very helpful when shaping my plans, but it took me a while before I warmed up to doing activities on my own. Once I did, I was finally able to move according to my own schedule and explore places with a newer, fresher perspective. I visited parks, did day trips on my own, and found some great volunteer opportunities. If I met students who were considering studying abroad as well, I would encourage them to fill their days in their city to the max and reassure them that things can be budget-friendly, even in a city as expensive as London. There were free concerts in parks, the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland that you could walk through and enjoy, places you can visit for free like museums, and more. It just takes a “yes” and Google Maps will (usually) help you figure out the rest!

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Elizabeth Durosko
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course abroad and why? 

My favorite course abroad was International Marketing. I learned about the importance of cultural literacy when doing business abroad. Additionally, I learned how to create a detailed marketing plan in a new environment, when we did our final project. My group introduced Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to Ireland with thorough research and an extensive presentation. This not only developed my marketing skills but also my presentation skills. While this class was extremely valuable for my education, it was also very fun and exciting. We went on a field trip to the Guinness Store House, where we got to pour our own pint, tour the museum, and learn about their advertising strategies. All aspects of this class were enjoyable and educational due to the interesting material and engaging professor.


2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has completely changed my college experience. Being introduced to business in an international environment prompted me to develop a growing interest in International Relations, which I hope to pursue in a graduate program. Additionally, it gave me independence. Being in a new, unfamiliar city, without knowing anyone was a true test of my independence. It taught me to rely on my instincts, ask locals for help, and to manage my time more effectively. Before studying abroad, I thought I could adapt easily, but now, I know I can.

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Ellie Pomer
Alumni Insider

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Personally, I feel this experience has helped me become much more independent than I anticipated. I have become more securely based in myself, knowing more things I can do and shouldn't be worried about. 
 

I am quite an anxious person who worries much more than I need to, so flying to a different country on my own for just over four months was a big jump for me. Having done something like this and really put myself out there has boosted my confidence and enhanced my life all around. Because of this, I want to help people with similar concerns or issues know that they can do it too.

2. What are your best tips for practicing the language while abroad? 

I was very nervous about the language barrier before going abroad because I have studied Spanish for a number of years, but still did not feel secure enough to call myself fluent or even close to fluent. Once I arrived, it was great to have the site specialists and teachers encourage Spanish speaking, but it is true that everyone is at different levels. There will be at least one person who knows more of that language than you, but there also will be at least one person who is less comfortable with the language than you are. 

I would recommend taking advantage of the professors and cite specialists knowing the language and practice with them whenever possible - even in small conversations. A great help that is still continuing for me now is also making friends with locals. I am still continuing to work on my Spanish as I keep in touch with friends from back there.

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Emily Bozarth
Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite course abroad and why? 

My favorite course I took abroad was Digital Culture for Social Change. Not only does this course cover everything I am interested in, from social media to social justice and how the two interact, it helped me learn so much about the local Sevillan culture. We completed a variety of projects that opened our eyes to the community around us. My favorite project we completed was making participatory videos on a range of topics from gender inequality in soccer, to the local cultural center’s fight for funding, to how the locals feel about the over-tourism of the city. This was also the class where I learned the most about the political history of Spain, from how the current elections were going to the 15-M movement that had a global impact. Before this course, I recognized that digital media was a powerful tool for change, but never grasped the fullness of that statement. This course taught me things that will carry with me not only to finish my degree back home, but into the workforce and the rest of my life. It has taught me to have a critical eye when analyzing media and helped me become a better global citizen.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual and future employee, but also as a global citizen. I have been able to further my intercultural communication skills, my Spanish skills, and learned from experts in my field that I could never had contact with otherwise. As I return home and begin the dreaded job hunt, this experience will not only look good on paper, but will prove its worth with my newly advanced skill set and newfound confidence in myself and my abilities. Today, I am a more independent, adaptable, and culturally and globally aware person. I am more comfortable getting outside of my comfort zone and experiencing the beauty of new cultures. Research shows that experience in other countries makes us more flexible, creative and complex thinkers; who wouldn’t want to embody those characteristics? Since I have hopes of traveling abroad again, and maybe living abroad post-graduation, this experience has been a major stepping stone in building my global network, improving my personal confidence, and helping me see my future goals as achievable. It also has given me new friends, a new outlook on the world, and a new home away from home.
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Emily Ruby
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I would like to be an alumni ambassador because I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad. I would love to help other students in their journey and educate them on the great experiences that studying abroad equips you with. Additionally, CEA helped me so much through out my journey and I appreciate all the opportunities I was given on my trip.


2. What do you wish you had known before going? 

Before studying abroad, I wish I had known how common public transportation is. Where I am from, we normally use cars or walk, so this was something very new to me. It taught me a lot about managing my time but also how to be more attentive in order to be partial.
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Emily Slevin
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

Before I had even decided on a university, I knew that I wanted studying abroad to be part of my college experience. Needless to say, I had very high expectations for studying abroad and every single expectation was exceeded. I am so passionate about traveling and going on new adventures and would love to encourage others to pursue this opportunity with CEA. I am so grateful for this past semester and everything that the CEA team has done and I know that I would be able to encourage other students because of the excellent experience that I had. I am a people person and motivated to helping others and I feel like my experiences and personality would make be a great alumni ambassador.

2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Participating in the CEA program allowed me to experience elements of London that I otherwise would not have had the ability to experience. We had a theatre outing to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway at Her Majesty’s Theatre. I was able to experience British football culture by going to a Chelsea football game. We enjoyed local food culture by eating a traditional English dinner at a pub and went to get afternoon tea at a British bakery. In terms of traditional tourist activities, we did a night tour of London that ended with going on the London Eye. These were all experiences that I otherwise would have not known how to facilitate on my own so I was able to have these opportunities through CEA to experience local culture.
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Emma Hammerson
Alumni Ambassador
1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

While abroad I truly immersed myself. I am fluent in Spanish and that aspect definitely contributed to my immersion in Spain. I would go to coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants frequently and just sit and try and talk to the waiters and servers to get to know the area and locals. Additionally, I lived in a "casa" and therefore we had house parents. I would talk to them often and always asked about Sevillano life, customs, and traditions. Lastly, I took most of my classes at the Universidad de Sevilla and there I introduced myself to the Spanish students and made friends with quite a few of them which helped me get to know the local culture.

2. What was your favorite course abroad?

My favorite course abroad was Women in Art which I took at the University of Sevilla. This class was my favorite for a multitude of reasons. My professor was passionate about art and all of the artists we learned about. My class was small, and therefore more intimate, and it was more discussion-based which really helped my speaking skills. Additionally, my professor took us on field trips once a week around Sevilla and pointed out all of the different aspects of art in the city. We also went to different museums, like Bellas Artes, and I loved having someone help me understand the art in the museum. I would recommend it to anyone!
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Erin Steinkamp
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I would love to give students who are potentially studying abroad tips and advice that that they would like to know before moving to a foreign place. Sharing my own experience and travels will help others with their study abroad. I had never been to Europe before, and now I have been to 12 different countries in just four months. I have thoroughly documented my time here in Paris and other parts of Europe through videos and pictures. As an alumni ambassador, I would share my travel videos that I have made, and they would be a great tool of advertisement for travelling abroad as well.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Since studying abroad, I have found a love for travel, learning about other cultures, and viewing this experience as a chance of a lifetime! I have realized that I am so young, and there is so much of a life to live! I know that I want to have a profession that allows me to travel and see the world. It is important for me to be happy in whatever my career will be. Being the furthest I have ever been away from home has let me be very independent; I have challenged myself by living in a different lifestyle and gone on many adventures that I would have never gotten the chance to do if I did not study abroad.

 

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Esther Rivera
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

I think that my experience in Alicante was great. The people were kind and helpful. The fact that Spanish is my first language really helped me when it came to communicating with people, however, the culture was very different than what I was used to. It was different in the sense that they eat different but delicious food, the lifestyle in Spain is a lot slower that in America and I appreciated that, and the public transportation (bus and tram) were very easy to use. Overall, I really appreciated learning a lot about the Spanish culture and I admired the way locals enjoy life

2.  Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

I would love to be an alumni ambassador because my experience has been fantastic and I want others to experience it too. I am a Latina and many Latinas do not study abroad due to the fact that many have not ever traveled. Many Latinas/Latinos come from low income communities and their families have never gone on trips and to simply put it, it is frightening to travel with no past experience and it is frightening because it can be expensive. However, I want to let all minorities and others know that this is a learning experience and they will return home with a lot more knowledge. Also, I would love to help them with their financial fears. For example, I would tell them about scholarships and ways in which they can save up in advance.

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Gabrielle Ciuteikis
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Outside of attending university at the University of Seville, I was able to maximize my experiences in Seville thanks to the CEA staff. Living with a host family was a great option for me. Every evening we would eat dinner together. This gave us an opportunity to talk about our daily experiences, and also to share our hidden gems of the city. My host-mother would often take us out to “tapear”, to have tapas, several times during the semester. Each time we went out, I let her order what she knew was good at these specific places. Her daughter also introduced me to leisure activities including snowboarding. It was mind-blowing to find out that the Sierra Nevada was only a couple hours away from Seville. These little experiences accumulated to one beautiful cultural immersion. 
 
I also made friends at “intercambio sessions”, where Spanish university students came to the CEA center to practice their English while we practiced our Spanish. It was a pleasant way to make Spanish friends, since it may be difficult to do so sometimes. My “intercambio” friends were very welcoming in Sevilla. They showed their local perspective of the city. There were many times where we would just get a tapa, or enjoy a walk in the park while practicing Spanish! I learned so much history about Seville’s customs and traditions through my friends and was fortunate enough to experience Holy Week and Fair of Seville with them. Since these two holidays are the most important in Seville, it was nice to learn more about these traditional holidays from Sevillens themselves. 
 
Lastly, I made sure to do my part in immersing myself into the culture. Since Seville is known for people “living on the streets” because they spend so much time out and about, I did it myself. I spent a lot of my free time in romanticized parks that always had new flowers blooming, and by the river that always brought peace to mind. While drawing in one of the parks early in the semester, I met an Argentinian student that was also an international student in Seville. We coincidentally became close friends which was another fun way to experience the culture there. We were both international students, but whenever we would spend time together walking around or in museums, my friend Juanita would always tell me about similarities she sees between Argentinian and Spanish culture. This was an unexpected great way to learn more about Sevillen culture.

 

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

One of the most important pieces of advice to carry around with you during the study abroad experience is to not be afraid to speak the language. The CEA staff are very supportive making sure that if you have the desire to practice the language, they will always engage in the conversation. The professors at both the CEA center and any other university you attend classes in are already accustomed to students learning and bettering their skills in the foreign language. They are here only to help you, especially knowing how much effort you put to come all the way to a foreign country. 
 
In my case, I felt very comfortable speaking to staff and professors just because I know they are here for us students. On the flip side it was difficult for me to break out of my shell while talking to locals in daily scenarios like ordering at a cafe. I think that the dialect being very different than what I am used to intimidated me. I knew that I should be taking advantage of my time here, therefore I just tried to speak my best. Being able to practice Spanish in class and outside was an opportunity only available while studying abroad. Living with a host family had also helped to hear colloquial Spanish. We would talk about a range of topics at the dinner table which expanded my vocabulary just by spending time with the family. You will be surprised as to how much you can improve your foreign language ability by consistently listening and practicing with the environment around you.
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Haley Sommer
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I would like to be an Alumni Ambassador so that I can continue to share about my life changing study abroad experience and so that I can lead other people toward a similar experience through studying abroad with CEA. Since coming home from Spain, I have loved sharing about my experiences abroad. I want to continue to share in an impactful and beneficial way. I have so many pictures and videos from my time abroad that I love showing off. My photography and videography skills grew immensely while I was studying abroad. I believe that these pictures and videos may be helpful in my position as an Alumni Ambassador. Since I had such an incredibly life changing experience, I want to give back and help lead others toward this experience. I have a passion for improving the lives of others and I would love the chance to help them discover the adventures of a study abroad experience with CEA. I want to help connect my life abroad with my life home and continue to grow with the support of CEA. I also would love the opportunity to return to Granada as
an onsite Alumni Ambassador.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience is one of the most impactful events of my life. In terms of my career, I was able to vastly improve my Spanish skills and achieve an advanced level of oral proficiency. I also gained a deep understanding of the Spanish culture. Both of these are extremely important as I move toward my future career as a high school Spanish teacher. I gained so much knowledge first hand that I will be able to pass down to my students. Not only was I able to grow academically as I improved my Spanish language skills, but I also grew personally. I gained important skills related to independence as I had to manage a new life without the support of the people who are usually right by my side. I went to a place that was completely new and unknown to me, and 5 months later, it was my home. Leaving the city that I grew to love and the host family that became my second family was harder than I could have possibly imagined. Study abroad gave me lifelong friendships and memories that I will treasure forever. I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for my study abroad experience.
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Hannah Grace Burroughs
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad career shaped you? 

My study abroad experience taught me that I'm far more capable than I think I am. Before living in Spain, I didn't have the faith and confidence in myself that I should have. Now, I find comfort in knowing that if I can live in a foreign country for four months and LOVE it, then I can do anything else I'm faced with. Spain made me realize that I can handle life's challenges and that everything has a way of working itself out!

 

 

2. What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad?

As weird as it is, I wish I knew to reorganize my laptop before studying abroad! I have so many amazing pictures, blog entries, diaries, and videos from my travels and the idea of losing any of that TERRIFIES me. These are some of the best memories I've ever had, so I they get a special "Study Abroad" folder, and I definitely recommend that everyone else does the same!

 

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Hannah Valente
Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was History of the Papacy with Eric Walters. The amount of history that this course involves is incredible. As a Theology Major in Rome, I could not have taken a more amazing course that has allowed me to truly understand the Papacy beginning with St. Peter and up to Pope Francis!

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me into a person who loves to travel and explore new cultures. As I was studying abroad, I applied through Providence College to teach for 6 weeks in Sydney, Australia. Without how comfortable I felt studying in Italy and traveling around Europe, I would never have the confidence to apply for this Fellowship. With the skills I acquired abroad, I truly feel like I can do anything, even maybe move back to Rome!

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

I feel that studying abroad has just exacerbated my personal development and growth. I have gotten the chance to focus on getting to know myself and how I respond to everything in life, and it's strengthened my resolve to work in public health. Being able to see the ways that people live in society here versus back in the United States has given me a unique and varied perspective to apply to my future career. Additionally, learning a new language has provided me with so many more options as far as meeting people, travelling, and working. Studying abroad has given me the chance to find out what love is and what life is about.


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

Not only did they do a great job informing me of what I needed to do and sort out before leaving for Spain, but CEA allowed me to not have to worry about the smallest details of the trip in regards to housing which was a big deal. If I had been required to sort out all these small details and do the research on my own, my study abroad experience would have been much more stressful and much of the growing time that I enjoyed while here would have been filled up with technicalities surrounding basic needs. Having staff to help with academics and with things like gas tanks and cell phones was very useful as well, and overall it helped my experience to go much smoother. Through the oversight of CEA, I now feel that I could travel to another country and know what I need to do before and during my stay without outside assistance. It held my hand in the beginning so that now I don't require it.
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Isaac Chambers
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was Customer Experience Management. The course was about exploring what a compelling experience is in B2B and B2C and how to establish reliable and long-term profitable customer relationships. We did this by analyzing a local coffee shop, "The Miner's: Coffee and Characters" in the Vinohrady neighborhood in Prague 3. We conducted a consulting report regarding the customer experience and they could improve. I found this particularly engaging because of how real the course was. Instead of lecturing and taking notes, we were working with an actual business and applying our learning.

2. What do you wish you had known before going?

One thing I wish I knew before studying abroad is how difficult it can be trying to squeeze everything I wanted to in before the conclusion of my program. While there were several people who had shorter programs than the one I was on, I still felt like 9 weeks was too short. There are still several cities in the Czech Republic that I would have loved to visit. Trying to balance both an internship and classes along with traveling became very daunting at one point. In retrospect, I wish I planned my time in Prague better to accommodate the 9 weeks I had.

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Isabelle Pekarsky
Alumni Ambassador

1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

The culture at while I was abroad was an interesting change to what I was used to. My family are Ukrainian immigrants and although the culture was different in many ways, it was similar in a lot of ways as well. I am used to not understanding and having to adapt to difficult situations. Therefore, doing simple things like the grocery stores was easier for me, whereas my friends and classmates struggled with that. I enjoyed having to adapt and work through situations while learning and growing. This experience made me want to continue studying and exploring the world.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

It changed the direction of what I plan to do after I graduate. I plan to get my masters in international relations and hopefully find a career abroad.

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Jacob Griffin
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

The reason I want to become an alumni ambassador so much is because I understand just how valuable the study abroad experience is. It is the adventure of a lifetime and I think everyone who can should take the chance. Two of my good friends from my university back home were contemplating studying abroad this semester but weren't sure if it was right for them. I was very encouraging towards them and tried my hardest to get them to take the leap, and I know as a fact they are now having an excellent semester in both Prague and Athens. Sharing my experiences, informing others, and encouraging them to study abroad is something I would be very passionate about in the future. In fact, I have already had a couple of people from campus message me and ask about study abroad. No matter what, I will push others from my university to go for the study abroad experience, and I would love to do so as an official CEA ambassador.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Studying abroad for the semester has taughy me a lot about myself. One of the most important things is understanding just how easy it is to meet new people and build friendships wherever you may be in the world. I think this will definitely help me expand my friend group and professional network with back in America as well. There were several times when I had to stop and ask for directions or about different things in the city, and this made me realize that strangers are almost always willing to talk and help you out when you're in need. Also, studying abroad has taught me to be open to any and all cultures. I thought I was culturally understanding before I went abroad, but I am now much more than I ever was. A specific eye-opening experience was the CEA planned trip to Morocco. The lifestyle there is so much different from what I have ever seen, and now I can at least understand somewhat how people there live.
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Jacqueline Drazdzinski
Alumni Ambassador
1. What do you wish you had known before going?

One thing I wish I knew was that everything would be okay. Students tend to stress over every little thing and especially when studying abroad. Whether it is a new language, being away from home for a while, worrying about not understanding the public transportation or even in regards to making new friends; all of these worries immediately went away when I arrived and found out that the other students were in the same situation. We quickly bonded with each other and went to lunch not even two hours after landing in Ireland. We were all so excited to explore this new land and all that the culture had to offer. Even when we were confused or got “lost” while exploring, we had the CEA staff nearby to guide us in the right direction and even make recommendations as to where the best local restaurant was or smaller destinations that would truly show us the Irish culture.

2.  How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My experience in Dublin has made me realize that we are all the same. We as individuals are all striving to be our best while still wanting to enjoy life. No matter what we look like or what language we speak, we are all people who share common goals despite all of the political aspects and disagreements. For me, this realization occurred when I was observing the everyday life from St Stephens Green in Dublin. Even when I was 3,000 miles away from my house, there were still couples taking walks, children playing like there was no tomorrow, and street vendors advertising their product. I was able to talk to locals and hear their stories and their careers choices. All of this gave me a sense of home, which just made me fall more in love with the beautiful city of Dublin. I have since been encouraged to research more of my ancestry and spend more time with my relatives who are of Irish descent to continue learning as much as I can. My hope is that more people become aware that the world is a lot smaller than it seems and that we really are all very similar.
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Jared Hoffman
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course abroad? 

My favorite course at Skema was certainly my project management course. This course gave me the opportunity to be a real life project manager with a team of people. My team was very diverse from all different countries, I had to learn how to communicate with each person, what their skills were, how much workload they could take, and how to manage a project each week. It was a huge challenge, but I gained a whole new skill from this one class. I am now qualified to do something I would have never been able to get qualified to do at my home school. It was an amazing experience.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

I feel like a totally different person after this experience. Not only has it accelerated my career by giving me a whole new set of business skills it has allowed me to develop so much on personal level. Before I studied abroad I wasn't very dependent, I relied on other people and other things for almost everything. When you study abroad you only have yourself to rely on. I have learned how to be punctual, how to travel alone, plan meals, and really be an independent individual without the help of others. Furthermore, I feel I have much more worldly world view. I don't just think of the U.S. way, I think of many different perspectives. This experience has truly made me a more diverse individual. I will never be the same after this, and for me that is a great thing.
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Jazmin Martinez
Alumni Ambassadors

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me in gaining more confidence and build more relationships. I now want to tell the world how I had an amazing time while being in Paris and I am always looking forward to go back. In my academic career, after studying abroad I joined more clubs such as the UIC Study Abroad Ambassadors club that works closely with the Study Abroad Office to promote study abroad and show students what steps they have to take to get there. Through a scholarship I won, I was then able to visit my high school and talk to the students about the benefits of study abroad. In my careers, I now know that there is international opportunities and that I am capable of participating in them.


2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

I was able to experience the local culture while I was abroad by living like a local. I had a small apartment in Paris. Like all the locals, I had to go shopping in my local grocery story and on Wednesday and Sunday's I would pick up fresh fruit from the market in front of my apartment. I took the Metro to my internship site and talked to people in French. At my internship site I would have lunch with the staff and they would give me advice on the city and about school. I was really emerged in the culture and their traditions in the time I was there.

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Jennie Torres
Alumni Insider

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

My experience with the local culture while abroad was eye-opening, as it revealed how I could persevere through cultural challenges by my ability to adapt to a new environment. The culture compared to the one I've experienced in the United States felt to be much more relaxed as far as how they deal with work related issues. I found myself conflicted with not having enough tasks to do during my internship in Barcelona due to my co-workers valuing more time for themselves versus my prior experience having to constantly be on my feet attending to tasks with only a 30 minute break in a 12 hour long shift. This was by far the most difficult thing to overcome because I am grown accustomed to feeling like I need to work constantly, but I managed to get adjusted to the environment by communicating with my co-workers on what more assignments I can have accomplished, thereby including my own culture within their own. However, that doesn't mean I disregarded the new customs either. I felt like compromising between our two cultures would be beneficial as it reveals to use the positives and negatives that can come from either spectrum. Personally, I did end up enjoying how flexible my internship was with allowing me to relax on the job to complete any personal assignment I had and the dress code appeared to be a little more casual than I was anticipating which brought upon a closer relationship between my coworkers and I. Overall, the local culture especially at my internship helped me reflect on what is more valuable in life, getting the job done or having time for yourself. Although I do believe it's both, I am grateful to have experienced a community where they are not so strict on completing tasks in exchange for allowing their coworkers to enjoy life and not have it taken from them five days a week. It helps me value my personal space and mental health much more.

 

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My experience interning abroad has shaped me today because I have a greater understanding of what I aspire for in my future career. First off, when it comes to my career I came into this program believing that it would be easy to work at my internship because of the requirements that it described which was to be a content writer and proofread their work for them 8 hours a day, 4 days a week. Being a graduate with an English degree, I thought this would be a walk in the park and I would adore doing this kind of work when in actuality, I found myself wanting more to do in this job. Completing these assignments were in fact easy, but what wasn't was my unfulfilled desire to accomplish more things with my time, things that could've included interacting with more people. My typical work day involved sitting at a laptop proofreading already finished articles, and that showed me that this sort of work is truly not what I want out of life. The internship was certainly fulfilling because without it I would've never known that I require more complexity within my schedule, and that I would like to find a career that makes me feel like I have a larger role in the community. It was amusing to recognize how a job that I thought would give me enough enjoyment to do for the rest of my life was actually proven false, so now after this program I'm searching for career paths that could offer me more to do with my time that could also involve writing but perhaps there can also be days where I am communicating with people so that way I don't feel restricted to a computer all of the time.

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Jennifer Saviski
Alumni Ambassador

1. What are your best tips for practicing language while abroad? 

I was a Spanish major while I was abroad and I definitely improved my Spanish a lot while I was abroad. The biggest tip that I can offer is to not be afraid to mess up. In Spanish classes at school, I would never raise my hand or volunteer to speak because I hated to make grammar mistakes. However, while abroad, I realized how many mistakes I make when I'm speaking English and that locals would rather have you try and make mistakes than not try at all. Plus, if you don't try you won't make lasting connections with the local people that can continue your language growth even after studying abroad.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad?

My favorite course abroad is a tie between the Teaching English Abroad class and my Historia de esclavitud en America latina class. I loved the Teaching class because I got to make real life connections that I still have to this day. (My students just sent me a huge package of letters and drawings recently and now I'm making them a video about the city where I'm from) I also loved my history class because we went on tours of Seville and learned about how Seville had a huge impact on the transatlantic slave trade. It was really cool to see first hand where events took place that I normally only hear about in history books or see in old paintings from those times.

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Jeremy Dolezal-Ng
Alumni Ambassador
1. Talk about how you experienced the local culture while abroad.
  
The local culture I experienced in Seville was eye-opening and exciting. One of my favorite things in life is food, so getting to experience Spain's famed tapas dishes was incredible. Being able to explore small servings of spanish tortilla, croquetas de jamon, and patatas bravas on the first day was a great introduction to the local cuisine. 
Another fun cultural experience was getting to enjoy flamenco shows. CEA provided students with an excellent showing of Flamenco in the Triana neighborhood. We were able to watch 3 performers show us how it's done and engage with them with cheers and applause. On my last day in Seville, my family and I located a free flamenco show in the central neighborhood. The dancers and singers put their heart into each performance as a crowd of all Sevillanos enjoyed it.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad?

My favorite course was ARCH 460- Architecture and Painting in Seville. I got to learn about why Seville looks the way it does today. Not only that, we got to learn a bit of history of the city through connecting famous painters like Velazquez and Murillo to the development of Spanish culture. Probably the best part about the class was the way I got to study. For our final exam, one of the parts was a walking final where we went around random areas of Seville and answered questions about the buildings. To study for this, I walked around the whole city with my friend, enjoying different Tapas bars as we strolled and pointing out key elements of the Seville architecture around us. We weren't confined to studying in a library or reading a book. Our class knowledge was all around us.
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Jonathan DeMarco
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has shaped me in more ways than I ever thought it would. You hear of kids coming back from their time abroad calling it “life-changing” and you roll your eyes thinking “we get - you were in Europe,” but it truly is a transformative experience. I am so independent now, far more outgoing and willing to meet and talk to anyone. I am more confident than I ever was, I can plan and execute travel with ease, and I see more clearly now what is important to me in my life. My time abroad has influenced my career path as well. I know with certainty now that I want my job to include travelling, and not just office work. Not only is the life experience incomparable to what I may have learned in the classroom setting at my home university, I am a more versatile student now because I have learned to balance academics with travelling with budgeting with cooking and maintaining an apartment.

2. What would you say to someone considering studying abroad?

The way that we live as Americans, means that almost everybody you know will graduate with a degree and then move on to their full time job with 40 hours a week and two weeks off a year. When in life will you ever have the chance to spend between 4 months to a year in your destination of choice to truly immerse in a different culture and have the opportunity to do all the travelling your wallet will allow without consequence? It’s an experience that will shape who you are for the rest of your life, teach you things that 10 years of university could not, and let you find out who you really are and what you really want to do in life. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I recommend without hesitation to everyone.
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Kaitlyn Reif
Alumni Ambassador

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

The most important thing about learning another language is to swallow your pride and to just practice, practice, and practice. Everyone says that submersion is the best way to learn a language, and it truly is. I 100% underestimated how difficult it is to learn another language, so living in Spain was a good reality check for me to realize how little Spanish I truly knew. To learn another language, you need to accept failure immediately, and I mean this in the best way possible. Accept that you are going to mess up, say the wrong words, and even forget words, but do not get embarrassed or discouraged. Making mistakes is part of learning, and you need to know that you are not going to be a perfect, fluent speaker right off the bat. Try, try, and try again. Do not be scared to practice another language because locals do appreciate you trying and learning. Many times, the locals were just as bad at English as I was at Spanish, so it was fun to try to communicate in one another’s language. Practice makes perfect, so do not be shy!

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I surprised myself with how much I loved my archaeology class. This class was about the ancient societies that developed and thrived around the Mediterranean. I already love history, but as I mentioned, I initially did not know much about Europe. This class helped me with learning the geography of Europe and its history as well. As I traveled, this class helped me with the history of the cities that I visited. I honestly do not think that I would have enjoyed Athens or Rome as much as I did had I not taken this class and learned about the history behind these ancient towns and their people. My archaeology class was only about 20 students and was split with about half of the students being locals and the other half being study abroad students from many different countries. I enjoyed getting to know my classmates just as much as I did learning.

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Kate Moo
Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I took two courses in Rome: one centered around engineering (Principles of Engineering Materials) and one culturally-centered elective (Art & Archaeology of Ancient Rome). Though I enjoyed the former, the Art and Archaeology course was definitely my favorite! The course was structured so that every class (except for two sessions) took place on-site at a museum or archaeological/historical location in or around Rome. In three weeks, we visited the Trajan Forum, Hadrian’s Villa, the Pantheon, Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla, Ara Pacis, Old Jewish Ghetto, Vatican Museums, and many more…all at no out-of-pocket cost at the student. The assignments in the class were also creatively-centered and focused on what each student wanted to investigate, whether it be a statue at Palazzo Altemps or an aspect of ancient Roman culture. In all, paired with a passionate and extremely knowledgeable instructor, Art and Archaeology was an immersive and highly effective course that not only taught the subject matter in a chronological and thorough manner, but gave us the opportunity to explore countless cultural marvels of Rome.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Studying abroad for over a month in a foreign country opened my eyes to the richness and uniqueness of other backgrounds. Prior to my departure, my pre-conceived notions of Italy involved one of fashion, art, and food, but experiencing the country in both urban and rural, positive and negative settings helped me realize that such aspects of culture are really the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Beneath the surface of these superficial facets of culture are issues and notions of education, manners, ideology, economics, and the perceptions or treatment of the country’s past. Looking for such influential characteristics shaped my understanding of why other nations are what they are, it and drove me to want to learn more about the world’s other cultures. Additionally, though I wanted to work outside of the United States before studying abroad, my experience reinforced this desire. Living in an American college town, it can be easy to perceive the world, or at least one’s personal world, as the bubble of one’s own experience. Exploring Italy’s history and current events brought to light the interconnectedness and influences shared between other countries, and I wish to partake in this global sharing of knowledge in my future.

 

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Katherine McClain
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I would like to be an alumni ambassador because I'd like to continue to be involved with CEA. I really loved all the people at our center in Sevilla, and they made my experience fun, and my transition to life there so easy. I am really appreciative of all their work, and I think it reflects well on CEA that they have such great people working for them. I'd also like to be an ambassador because since returning home, I've talked to so many people who tell me their reasons for not studying abroad, and it drives me crazy because they have misconceptions about the study abroad process, and I'd like to share how accessible it is.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has not only helped my resume and my performance in my Spanish class here at home, but it really changed me personally. My mom still tells everyone how proud she is of how independent I became while abroad. Before my trip, I would say I would be uncomfortable taking a trip on my own or exploring a new city alone, but now, I feel like I can do anything. I took a few trips on my own to Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Paris. It was such a growing experience and I couldn't possibly explain everything I learned in this space, but in a few words, it made me more confident, self-sufficient, and it helped me to be a better problem solver. I definitely rely on some of the skills I learned on those trips back at home.
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Katie Donahue
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I want to an Alumni Ambassador because I believe I could provide students with help and support for any questions/concerns they might have. Although going abroad is a scary thing, it is also the opportunity of a lifetime. I want to convince students, like myself, to be pushed outside their comfort zones and make them want to try new things. I think that every student, if they have the opportunity to do so, should study abroad. Chances are, something later along the line in life will stop you from living in a different place/country and experiencing a new culture. I do not want anyone to miss this opportunity. I also believe I could make peoples process of choosing an abroad destination for themselves way easier because I had a lot of struggle through that process. I love meeting new people and I think I would have a lot of positive energy when talking to students about my time abroad. I would love the opportunity to be an Alumni Ambassador!

 
2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

It was not easy adapting the culture when I first was abroad. Due to the fact that I had never been to Europe before and was not sure what to expect, it was definitely a huge culture shock to me. After I got over the initial culture shock, I loved experiencing restaurants and places off the beaten path that weren't as touristy. It made me feel like I got a more authentic experience than just going to all of the basic places. I became friends with many students who were from the Czech Republic and I was able to see what life was like for them at their homes outside the city, and their apartments around the city.
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Kaylee Phillips
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course was Architecture and Painting in Sevilla because I learned so much more about Sevilla than I could if I hadn’t taken the class. Whenever I walk around, I feel like now I truly know the ins and outs of the city with all of its rich artistic history. For example, I know how the cathedral started off as an Aljama mosque and after the Spanish reconquest, the mosque became a cathedral. Mere tourists miss how special the cathedral is with all of its different periods of architectural styles. I can also apply this knowledge to other cities whenever I visit them. Even though this is one of my hardest classes, it’s my favorite because it has helped me connect with Sevilla and fall more in love with the city as a living learning classroom.

2.  Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 
I would like to be an alumni ambassador because I want the chance for others to go abroad with CEA and have life-changing experiences. I also would love to promote the internship program because it’s such an awesome opportunity to be able to study and work while abroad, especially in a country where you’re learning the language. I feel like not enough people know about the internship program and I think they are truly missing out!

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Kelly Tesoriero
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

I frequented the same coffee shops and bodegas— in Spain, interpersonal relationships are of utmost importance, and I noticed that most of the shoppers or diners were friendly with the staff at both kinds of establishments. I emulated this and honestly ended up developing relationships with locals that I'll never forget. I am distraught about leaving my neighborhood Gracia; it has so many unique and local-run businesses that I've come to cherish.


2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Studying abroad has kindled a passion for travel in me that I suspected was there, but was never ignited. I believe that traveling and immersing myself in another culture has made me much more open-minded and willing to leave my comfort zone. Additionally, it has made me consider moving to Spain for a few years after I finish my undergraduate degree. I'm already considering applying to programs to teach English in Indonesia this upcoming summer. Living abroad has been made not only fathomable, but realistic to me after this semester.
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Kendall Bannowsky
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Looking at how it will affect future careers is tremendous. Studying abroad teaches you many things for example patience, communication, time management, and much more. These are all things that are very important in the workforce and studying abroad pushes these attributes to the max. Personally I have grown so much. I have been able to travel to six different countries, and meet people from all over the world. I have been away from my family and been forced to find a new form of familiarity while abroad. Stereotypes have been broken and I have been able to see the world at its purest form. I did this completely for and by myself and have formed a stronger independence. I have also learned to take life less seriously and enjoy the things I’m surrounded by. Rather I missed my train or can’t understand the people around me it turned out to be a great memory and made my adventure much more enjoyable.

2. What are your best tips for practicing language while abroad? 

I studied German while abroad and I believe I was very lucky with the professor I had. He was always patient and made sure that I understood what was being discussed. I was the only American in the class of 5 and the only one that only knew one language. This was very intimidating on the first day of class and made me very apprehensive to continue on. In the end, my German class ended up being my favorite one and my whole class was very patient and nice. My biggest advice is to stick with it and study often. Create sticky notes to put around your apartment and section of a piece of your day to only focus on your language of course. Also, see if your CEA office has any native language speakers of the chosen language. I met once a week with an onsite staff leader that helped me.
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Kristina Araujo
Alumni Ambassador

1. What do you wish you had known before going?

Before studying abroad I read multiple blogs on what to expect and how to pack efficiently, but nothing can truly prepare you for life abroad until you actually get there. One thing I wish I would have known before studying abroad is how fast the semester goes by. Before I left I was really nervous and second guessing my decision, I was questioning whether I made the right decision. I thought the upcoming four months would be the longest of my life. I was scared I wasn't going to get along with the people in my program, I was worried that I wouldn't like the food and that I wouldn't be able to get around with my poor French speaking skills. With all these worries going through my head I wasn't prepared for embarking on the most amazing journey of my life. Little did I know these four months would be the fastest of my life. Towards the end, I was wishing that I had more time to spend there. I would also advise students going abroad to keep a journal while they are there so they can look back on the many amazing experiences they will have.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has shaped me in so many ways. Personally, studying abroad has allowed me to meet so many unique and different people from across the world. I have returned home with friendships that will last a lifetime. The bonds you create while abroad are unlike any other. When I was first touring colleges I never pictured myself as being the person to study abroad I didn't think it was for me. I never thought I would be able to live on my own for four months. I thought I would be too nervous and anxious, I simply didn't think I was mentally strong enough. As you may already know, almost half of Marist students study abroad at least once during their four years at college. Once I got to be a sophomore I started contemplating it more and realized it may be something I am interested in. I am so happy I pushed myself in the end to go abroad because it is the most amazing experience I have ever had and will look back on for the rest of my life. After studying abroad I realized how strong I truly was being able to travel all the way to a foreign country by myself where I didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language. This is an example of the personal growth that I gained from studying abroad. Studying abroad has also helped me career wise because I found it has been an interesting topic to bring up during job interviews. When asked what sets me apart from other candidates I am able to use my experience abroad as a talking point. This always impresses employers and shows how culturally experienced you are.
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Lauren Amador
Alumni Ambassador
1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

While, I loved Florence as soon as I arrived, I experience a great deal of culture shock. I was a bit uneasy about interacting with some locals as I never been to Italy or have any knowledge on the culture. About a month or so of being in Florence, I started to feel more comfortable and I started making new friendships at CEA. I remember eating at Trattoria Za Za and the waiters were all so kind and the food was out of this world. I remember crossing over the Ponte Vecchio during sunset and tears came to my eyes. My favorite part was getting cheese and crackers and eating on the Piazzale Michelangelo on the steps with all the Italian locals. I remember to this day that Florence was wrapped with beautiful music from people playing their instruments in the Piazza della Signoria. I felt like wherever I went in Florence, the people cared for me and everyone was so kind. The local culture really made such an incredible experience for me.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

Before going abroad, I wanted to go into broadcasting. I loved writing and saw myself being a television news reporter. After I got back from abroad, I changed my emphasis completely. I now want to go into nonprofits or the Peace Corps. I love to travel and I want to put my time and energy into an a community issue that I care about. After being lucky enough to travel, I found that there are many people in need and I want to be that person to make a difference. Out of college, I hope to travel before going into my career. I found that I'm far more excepting of other people.
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Lauren Krupczak
Alumni Ambassador
1.  How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has reaffirmed in me the desire to move abroad currently and immerse myself in new cultures. I didn't move to Prague to drink or easily travel to other places- I came here because I knew absolutely nothing about the culture and I wanted a chance to be a pure observer and assimilate into something beautiful. I was given the opportunity to see the world through new lenses, an opportunity I was never sure if I'd be able to have, and I am so grateful. It has allowed me to become more confident in myself, in trying new things, in solitary exploration, and has pushed me both academically and creatively.

2. What do you wish you had known before going?

I wish I would have been warned about specifically food-based culture shock. I ended up conducting research on the subject and presenting on t at the Reflections Abroad Conference due to how severely it hit me. I hadn't been warned about just how scary and confusing a new grocery store is and if I had been warned I not only would have known what to expect, but I could have prepared more. I find it so very interesting that we ask students what questions they have the day they arrive without giving them the proper amount of time to develop questions, so I wish I had known that it is ok to have none at the start and develop them throughout one's journey.
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Lauren Malestic
Alumni Ambassador
1. What are your tips for learning the language? 

DIVE IN! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, that is how we all learn. You have to let go of fear, it is silly and holds you back from a whole new world of experience and growth. Do not be afraid to interact with people. You might put yourself out there and trying it in a new language may result in you having a discouraging experience. Do not dwell on it, move on and use the experience for when you try again. Challenge yourself daily, but also be kind to yourself. You are learning and growing, not even French people learned their own language in a day, it is tough! But that is what makes it worth it! Push yourself and use all aspects of that local culture as gateways to be able to learn more about the language and culture. It all connects, so start at a point A, and take a small step each day, you will be amazed by your growth at the end of it. Read every road sign, practice with people your age, people not your age, waiters and baristas, French native-speakers and people that had to learn it like you. But overall, let go of fear!

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was French culture and civilization. This course was dedicated to all the elements of why I love French culture so much in the first place. The class allowed us to not only expand our knowledge on the French, who and what they are and stand for, but also our American culture and why we are so different. The class did not negatively separate us by our cultural differences, but instead taught us the different aspects of the two cultures, and celebrated the diversity between them and that for just a few months, we get to immerse ourselves in a new world of this, with an open mind and clean slate! I not only feel like I know so much more about the foundation of France and Paris and their culture and language, but the class also taught me so much about why I love the culture so much, and why it is so special. I learned so much about myself in this course, as everything from our blog posts, to our papers and presentations were opportunities to look inside ourselves and check in with our growth during our time abroad.
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Lily Anderson
Alumni Ambassador

1. What ways did you find to become immersed in the local culture?

The Alameda neighborhood in Sevilla is rich with bars, cafés, playgrounds, trees, beautiful buildings, and most importantly, PEOPLE! So many people stroll down the large, urban boulevard while heading home from mass, eating ice cream from Freskura, playing with children or dogs, or chatting with friends. For four lovely months, I was one of those people. By enjoying coffee from small cafés, chatting with fellow customers, strolling the narrow streets, and learning about the history of the area, or walking with a neighborhood friend and his dog, I was able to feel like part of the beautiful Sevilla tapestry. The neighborhood is young and hip, while still being rooted in deep Spanish tradition.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I was lucky in my ability to take classes at both the University of Sevilla and the CEA Center. My favorite course was taught by the wonderful Professor Álvarez through CEA. By analyzing the history, economy, politics and culture of Spain, we studied gender roles in present day Spain. No class taught me as much about the valiant liberation of the Second Republic, the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, or the oppressive regime of General Franco. By utilizing all of this through a feminist lense, we learned about how women were involved and impacted. Additionally, Professor Álvarez went out of her way to expose us to cultural events in the city, take us on walking tours regarding women in Sevilla, and introduce us to a Syrian refugee who impacted all of us in the class with her beautiful story.

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Lindsey Shivers
Alumni Ambassador

1. What are your tips for learning the language? 

While I was studying abroad, I took an Advanced French course. The course was difficult but taking a foreign language course in another country is an incredible experience. My time abroad allowed me to constantly practice my French, something I was rarely able to accomplish while here in the States. The biggest suggestion that I can give a prospective student is to utilize any opportunity to speak in the language you are studying. I was able to significantly enhance my speaking and reading in French by forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone and avoiding speaking English.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

As a result of my study abroad experience, I have become much more culturally aware, and much more patient. Prior to my study abroad experience, I had very little interaction with individuals from other countries and I was not entirely sure how to effectively communicate with them. After my experience, I feel much more comfortable communicating with individuals who are different than I am. In addition, due to language barrier that was present in some situations, I enhanced my ability to problem solve as well as enhanced my patience. There were many situations in which the individual I was speaking to was unable to understand what I as trying to say, as a result, we had to find alternative ways to communicate our thoughts which tested my problem-solving skills and my patience.
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Margaret Prittie
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

My semester abroad has proven to be more influential than I could have ever expected. I was encouraged and assisted by Alumni Ambassadors before embarking on my journey and would love nothing more than to be given the opportunity to return the favor. I was very impressed with CEA throughout both my pre-departure and my time in Barcelona. The program catered carefully to individuals, provided meaningful and memorable opportunities, and created a very attentive and resource-filled environment. I feel confident that I would be able to give valuable academic and social advice to those contemplating or planning their unique semester abroad. As an Alumni Ambassador, I would be able to share my passion for my experience and guide others to develop the same.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

I embarked on my journey abroad with very few expectations. I traveled to Barcelona by myself, selected a random roommate, and had no prior weekend travel plans. The ambiguity of my semester abroad was the most influential aspect of my experience. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be independent and be comfortable with myself. I was able to meet new people and create lifelong friendships. As cliche as it is, I feel more myself now than I ever had before coming to Barcelona. I am confident in my newly acquired problem solving and time management skills. From a potential career perspective, I am even further inspired by the experiences I have had. I am planning to apply to veterinary school next year and am seriously considering applying internationally, a thought that did not occur to me before this semester. This experience as a whole is one that I will never forget and am excited to see its influence extend on my life back home.
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Margo Ward
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture?

Being abroad is much more than going to a different country and learning. It's about learning about their culture and traditions. While I was abroad, I experience the local culture by participating in cooking classes, going to sporting events, eating at local restaurant, and communicating with locals. Some of my favorite memories from being abroad is getting to experience the local culture because it's something different than what I am used to. Once you experience a different culture, it opens up your mind.

 

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me by allowing my mind to grow and it has taught me to more independent. After traveling through Europe I am able to look past the US ways and keep an open mind to other people and other cultures that I don't think I would have been able to do if I didn't go abroad. By that, I think that can also help me with my future career by being more open minded, communicate with all types of people and have better people skills. Going abroad has many benefits that I could have imagined.

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Marley Lucas
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course I took abroad was my Art and Architecture in Sevilla course. I think it was a combination of the content and my professor but I looked forward to that class each day. I was able to learn about the culture of art in Sevilla. I love being able to walk down the streets and know what type of archway is on a building or the history behind it. I learned a lot about Spain’s art scene but the history and culture as well since it is reflected in the architecture and artwork. Additionally, I enjoyed the class because of my teacher Dan. Dan is the type of professor who makes it enjoyable to come to class. Often times when he was describing something on a powerpoint he would just take us to see the building. This type of experiential learning is something you can only get abroad. I really enjoyed this type of class as I got to learn about the history of Sevilla and see it at the same time. Not only that but Dan’s style of teaching helped me retain the information better and he made everything fun, even the boring stuff.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has allowed me to personally grow in ways I never would have thought. I have seen my strength and patience tested many times, especially in travel. I have dealt with booking wrong flights, a lost train ticket worth $120, and extra baggage fees. As small as these inconveniences are they add up in stressful situations and you have to breathe and tell yourself that everything is ok despite the inconveniences. I also have noticed my creativity has blossomed since being in Sevilla. The magic of the city and the lifestyle of the Spanish have inspired me to create. This is shaping me to be who I am today but will also help with my career as the Communication field is driven on creativity. Lastly, this trip has taught me small life lessons that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. From accidently separating from all your friends at night to how to fall asleep quite literally anywhere this trip has given me experiences that will follow me forever and allow me to continue to grow.

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Marlyse Martin
Alumni Ambassador

1. What do you wish you had known before going abroad? 

I definitely wish that I would have known how supportive the CEA on-site staff would be before I arrived to Granada. On my way to the airport, I was extremely nervous about not getting the support I need if I had an issue. During my time in Spain, the Granada on-site staff was awesome, and they did such a great job accommodating our needs and were very approachable with any questions we had. They also were very engaging during our cultural excursions, which helped us gain an understanding of Spanish history and culture.

2. What was your favorite class while abroad? 

My favorite course was the history of Spain, which covered the history of Franco’s dictatorship to the present day economy of Spain. I love history, and this course really solidified my knowledge of how Spain transitioned from a constitutional monarchy to dictatorship, to the present day regression of Spain as a constitutional monarchy. I think in order to truly understand the economy, society, and politics of a foreign country, we must understand its’ history. History also gives us an understanding of society and how people function in relation to each other. This also helps us understand the cultural differences that are different from ours.

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Matthew Baldini
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

I experienced the local Czech Culture through the food, history, and people. The Czech cuisine is hearty, and some of my favorite dishes consisted of meat and potatoes such as their signature cultural dish Goulash. Others dishes I enjoyed including Svickova, a dish served with meat and bread dumplings in a creamy sauce and cranberry topping. For dessert, nothing beat Vetrnik. Since words cannot do it justice, I recommend try it for themselves. Museums featured prominently in my itinerary while abroad. The Czech painter Alphonse Mucha was popular, and for good reason. His larger than life depictions of Slavic tradition, called the Slav Epics, were a unique window into the past. The Charles Bridge is a national landmark for the Czech people representing when their capital city of Prague was the cultural center of Europe. Being able to walk across this bridge gave me a deeper appreciation for the Czech cultural identify. Interacting with the local Czech people was an eye-opening experience because their social norms are quite different than what I am used to in the States. They are much more reserved in nature. However, that does not prevent them from showing kindness and generosity.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was Prague Art and Architecture because it encouraged me to experience a side of the Czech culture I would not have other wise. I visited a local exhibit displaying the Czech artist František Kupka. Kupka started out as a Realistic style painter but progressively transitioned into primarily abstract paintings. The art exhibit show cased the chronology of his works. His most famous abstract painting the Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors surprised me with how much human movement can be expressed through abstract figures. 

 

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Megan Evans
Alumni Ambassador

1. What are your tips for learning the language? 

For my study abroad, I went to Granada, Spain specifically to study Spanish. After my time there, I believe there is no better way to learn or improve language skills than studying abroad! However, habits that a student forms during a study abroad can change their language-learning experience drastically. In my experience, staying in a homestay or finding other ways to spend time with natives is the best way to learn, because it means that you are practicing non-stop. One way to practice outside of a homestay or class environment is to find a language exchange -- I attended “intercambios” every week in Spain, and not only did I get to practice speaking with natives, I also met a lot of really amazing people from around the world!

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me in more ways than I thought possible. Academically, I am a far better Spanish-speaker now than I was when I left for Spain, and I’ve learned to adapt to different academic environments and approaches -- a skill that will certainly help me in the remainder of my college career. Personally, I know that my eyes have been opened to different ways of life. Even in a developed, western nation like Spain, there are an infinite amount of small cultural differences that all come together to create a very different way of life; living in a different environment like this has without a doubt given me the skills that I need to adapt to different situations and cultures, and to thrive in these new, unique environments rather than just survive. I also had the opportunity to meet people from all corners of the world, and learn about cultures and religions that were different from my own -- both through my environment and my classes. All of this has provided me with a global perspective that will help me succeed no matter where I am -- personally and professionally.

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Megan Mercado
Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My Czech Language and Culture class! It was a class with all CEA students and the most brilliant professor who was a native Czech citizen and speaker. We had great discussions and it really helped open my eyes to all of the things Prague could offer deeper than the surface that I could discover myself.

2. What do you wish you had known before going?

The one thing I wish I would've known is how incredible the onsite CEA staff would be. I knew about all of the resources CEA provided us when we were still in the States, but when I arrived in Prague, I was greeted with the most generous and friendly people ever. They helped me every step of the way and I wouldn't have been able to do it without them!

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Megan Reid
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My Intro to Italian course was definitely my favorite course for a few reasons. The main reason was my professor Mario. He made the class so much fun and he was a big fan of experiential learning so we would take class trips to gelato shops, the local market and more. In these situations it was really fun to be able to use what we learned in the classroom in a real life situation. I also really liked this class because it was fun to learn the language that I was hearing all around me.

2.  Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

I really enjoyed my experience abroad and my experience being a MOJO. I love talking about my time abroad and I am passionate about encouraging people to take a semester abroad. I really like to have a completely honest discussion about the pros and cons about going abroad since I wasn't able to get that kind of talk before I left. I think it would have helped reassure me that I was making the right decision.

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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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Melissa Greenberg
Alumni Ambassador
1. What would you say to someone considering study abroad?

I would say that the experience is worth having, not just to improve on language skills or have aesthetically pleasing pictures for social media, those are just a bonus, but to find out more about a culture and yourself. You learn how to live life completely on your own, and overcome challenges such as breaking language barriers or becoming more local as time goes on. You get to make friends and memories that will last a lifetime, and along with life lessons that you thought you would never have to learn. The program itself is inclusive and takes you on adventures all over the country while expanding your food palette, and also opening a door to numerous opportunities.

2. What are your best tips for learning the language while abroad?

Learning another language can be difficult at times, but the best way I encountered was conversing with locals as much as possible. While in France you are surrounded by French speakers, therefore the best way to learn is to step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the community. I spoke to everyone while I could, even the unconventional "Uber" drivers, because they love to teach the language and help you learn since they know it is not easy. Also studying phrases you've never heard before or listening to songs with more conversational French is the sort of thing that helped me expound on my language skills. My French professor also took us out to learn in a more interactive manner, such as meeting natives at a cafe or learning how to cook in French. Overall, attempting to use the language on a daily basis despite the mistakes that may be made is the most efficient way in my opinion, because over time you become more comfortable speaking and can pick up on different slang and accents.
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Micaela Brown
Alumni Ambassador
1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

In my host city, I lived with a host family. This was my favorite part of the experience. My host mom introduced me to many of the traditional foods and even helped me find places to visit on the weekend. Aside from visiting tourists spots, I visited an indigenous community, the local market places, and even a museum. Another part of the local culture I engaged in was at the university my course was held. I was able to meet many local students and tour the city with them.


2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course was a Medical Spanish course. I enjoyed this course because I hope to become a doctor one day it will be very helpful. This is also my favorite class because while in Costa Rica I shadowed many doctors and medical staff. During this time, I was able to immediately apply what I learned and better understand the patients. This course introduced me to an area of the language I had not been exposed to. It gave me an in depth look of what it is like to communicate with and help Spanish speaking patients.
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Miguel Martinez
Alumni Ambassador
 1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

The culture in Madrid, Spain like was no other i have ever seen. I arrived in time to see the plethora of soccer fans pour in for the Champions League final, it was a sight to see thousands of devoted fans Spanish and other Europeans live and breathe the sport. The friendly Madrileños gave me a whole level of comfort that I did not expect to find in a country nearly 5,00 miles away, and let us not forget the cuisine. I lived for the Tapas, the Spanish tortillas and the amazing pitchers of Sangria. I would go back to Madrid in a quick heartbeat.

2. What would you tell someone considering studying abroad? 

The attentiveness of the staff would go out of their way to make you feel safe and good about your stay while abroad. CEA truly goes above and beyond for you to intake the culture of your travel destination. CEA was the first agency I looked at and the search ended with that first phone call, they made me feel calm about going abroad.
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Miranda Haasl
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

While abroad, I was able to intern at a local school. This helped me get to know some local people a little better. I also took plenty of time to go by myself to cafes and bars and just talk with locals. I truly adopted the local lifestyle, siesta and all. I tried all kinds of new foods and drinks, and pushed myself to say yes to all the experiences out of my comfort zone.

 

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

The biggest tip I can offer is to completely dive in headfirst. If you're living with a host family, practice as much as you can with them. I didn't have a host family but my friends did and I got to practice a little with them too. Also don't be afraid to just try it. You'll probably make some mistakes, but most locals and people are more than willing to politely correct your mistakes when you're making the effort to try.

 

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Mitchell Shafer
Alumni Insider

1. How has study abroad shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has shaped me in such a big way. I was able to travel to so many different countries and so many different cities and learned how to interact with so many different cultures. Personally I feel like I have such a huge advantage because of how many different people I was able to meet and interact with. I feel like it has made me very versatile and I can always refer back to my experiences when talking to and meeting new people. As far as my career goes, I think that it definitely looks good to companies when I start to apply for jobs. I think it gives me good experience and makes me stick out over some other applicants. Many people are impressed when I tell them I have studied abroad and I am always excited to tell people all I have learned. I absolutely think that it was a great decision personally and career wise to study abroad.

2.  Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador? 

Iwould like to be an alumni ambassador because I want to tell future students my experience and show them how great of a place CEA is. I want them to hear first hand how great of an experience they are about to have and how excited they should be. I don't want CEA to be a secret, I want to show everyone how amazing it was. I would also love to be able to give all my travel plans to future students and tell them where to find the best deals. I was able to travel a lot and I found some great places to go and also found awesome ways to save money. I am very personable and I think that I would be someone that students would feel comfortable talking to.

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Olivia Gutierrez Padron
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I enjoyed all of my classes abroad because I feel like they offered very different learning environments and curriculum from what I am used to. However, my favorite was Management Communications. I found the professor to be very passionate about what she was teaching us. The class offered materials to be analyzed by people with all kinds of background. She covered all learning styles in the assignments so it was enjoyable to learn and retain the material. She also included a lot of self-reflection so you can relate your life and career goals to what was being taught in the classroom. I greatly enjoyed this class and would gladly take it again.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

This was a truly once in a lifetime experience that taught me not only life lessons but also taught me a tremendous amount about myself. I considered myself a resilient person but that was truly put to the test when being in such a challenging environment like being on your own in a foreign country where I didn't even know the language. I learned a lot of problems solving skills since you can't always access things that are easily available to you in the U.S. and because you are living with total strangers. More than anything I expanded on having an open mind. Taking in everything around me and being free of judgment to try and truly understand the culture and the locals. I feel myself being a more grateful person thanks to this experience. Career-wise it made me learn that I perhaps don't want to work an average office job. I might want to travel more and learn more about others. I have a pretty flexible major, communication/ marketing, so I think this might be a possibility.

 

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Parker Ornellas
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

While abroad in Aix-en-Provence, I was fortunate enough to experience a rich and thriving French culture right in front of me and easy to partake in. The first way I like to experience any culture is through food and drink. In Aix there were many restaurants and cafes catered to English speakers, however, these types of places were not the type to offer cultural growth. I found that going to authentic French cafes and restaurants where people speak little to no English was the best way to engage in the culture and better my language proficiency. On the topic of food, buying from the local markets and engaging in conversations with the vendors made me feel right at home in France as well as yielded some delicious produce. 

 

2. Language Tips

Studying another language can be extremely discouraging sometimes. One day I felt I was improving immensely and the next I felt completely comprehensible to a native French speaker. When this happens it’s easy to succumb to the overwhelming urge to only speak English, but it’s essential not to give in. Only practicing another language in a school course is not proficient enough to improve. It’s extremely important to practice outside of the classroom setting. I was lucky to befriend two French university students who helped me with my grammar and taught me useful lingo. I also listened to french music and had designated times when my roommate and I would speak to each other only in French.

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Peter O'Neill
Alumni Insider

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

I took a photography course while in Prague, and I still think it's some of my best work. Being in a densely populated city let me, as a photographer and storyteller, be free with my artistic ability. Additionally, I also took a videography course that had me document a formerly homeless musician and tell his story.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My time in the Czech Republic really cleared up who I am, and who I want to become. My flaws were highlighted during my time, and as a response to identifying what I lack in, my work ethic improved. Since finishing my semester abroad, I am more confident in both myself and my work-capabilities.

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Rachael Satz
Alumni Ambassador

 1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

While I was abroad, I experienced the local culture by getting involved in the activities that CEA offered. I did the AICAP activities: Intercambio Español, Hidden City Tour, Reshaping The City, and Changemakers. I also experienced the local culture on my own by going to the Palo Alto Market and interacting with locals in general.

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

 I would tell them that CEA is the best program to do because they offer you free activities to experience Barcelona in a different perspective, the apartments they give you are SUPER nice and they honor your roommate requests, the CEA center is very nice and is close to the main part of Barcelona, they are quick to respond and help you with any issues you might have while studying abroad, and they offer you an $1,000 dollar flight voucher that can be used towards your flight to Barcelona or any trips that you might do while in Barcelona.

 

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Rachel Roberts
Alumni Ambassador
1. What would you tell someone considering studying abroad? 


Even if you only possess an inkling of inspiration to study abroad, you should dive in. You don’t have an opportunity to learn something new every day, let alone learn from a culture completely different than your own. There are commonalities, mannerisms, and traditions that are foreign to the ear and mind, but you can only begin to understand them by living somewhere bigger than yourself. A piece of my heart will forever remain in Prague from the time I have spent here, and I wish for everyone to be able to have a home away from home in this sense. I have also had the pleasure of meeting some of the most incredible and unique people. Only you can make the choice to expand your horizons to these lengths.

2.  How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Despite my study abroad experience shaping me through both my personal and professional life, I believe the biggest impact has been on a personal level. By diving into a culture completely different than my own, I have learned how strong I am as an individual. This experience has carved me as an independent adult capable of making hard decisions for myself with any support. I believe this entire trip will impact the way I carry myself for the rest of my life.
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Rebecca Monroe
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad, Jewish Prague, allowed me to visit important Jewish sights and experience the culture first hand. The Jewish history and presence in the Czech Republic had a significant impact on my decision to study in Prague. While I am not religiously Jewish, my Grandmother and Mother are Jewish, and I have grown up learning many of the traditions. I wanted to better understand Jewish culture, and the history of the people I often identify with. Throughout the quarter my class went on trips to the Jewish Museum, multiple synagogues, a concentration camp, and a traditional Jewish restaurant. With every experience, I developed a better understanding of the way the Jewish people lived in Prague during the Holocaust, as well as how their culture exists today. There is so much Jewish history all throughout Europe, and by living in Prague and taking the course Jewish Prague, I was able to better connect to my Jewish roots.


2.  How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Studying abroad has provided me with a new sense of confidence and independence. When first deciding to study abroad, I knew that I wanted to go by myself. While this idea was both terrifying and exciting, I knew I had made the right decision when I stepped onto the plane. During the first few days in Prague I made friends with students in the program, and eventually I even became friendly with the locals. Living in a foreign city is an empowering, inspiring feeling. I faced challenges everyday, from overcoming language barriers, navigating the transportation systems, or even losing my wallet. Each of my experiences abroad contributed to my overall growth, and taught me more about the person I want to be. My time abroad has provided me with a new perspective, one that is eager to learn about different cultures, meet new people, and explore more of the world. I will always appreciate Prague for showing me that I have the power to live the life I desire.
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Richard Rhodes
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My language skills of Spanish and Catalan have both greatly increased from my stay abroad. Learning about the history of España helps me to be a more global citizen and get outside of the huge box that is the USA. From my cinema class, we were able to talk about the cultural feelings and movements that were reflected in movies throughout the past hundred years or so in España. Both of my classes at CEA both really changed my life by exposing me to completely new information. I've made friends here that I will keep in touch with for a long time and that I could possibly see again if I come back. Being able to live in a totally different culture has made a larger impact than I ever would have thought. Having never taken much public transport before coming to Barcelona, it is weird when I take public transport in another country because I don't say something like bon dia to the bus driver when entering.


2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I have enjoyed my time here in Barcelona so greatly and I would love to be able to make the study abroad dream come true for other students. I like to inform people about useful information and to help to make things run smoothly. I have studied a lot of computer coding which, a large portion of the time, involves changing pieces of the code to make programs work better or more efficiently. This is still how my brain works so I love to help people fix any problems they have or give them tips to make them more efficient. From living quite a local life here in Barcelona this semester, I think I could really help students wanting to come here especially. I would love to be able to help students explore more cultures and languages, which are both passions of mine.

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

Studying abroad this summer in Southern France was by far the best experience of my life. Though I was there for only a short 6 weeks, I believe that this opportunity has allowed me to find new interests, examine new perspectives, gain life experience, as well as gain global connections while being able to demonstrate by leadership skills. I can confidently say that studying abroad has helped to grow my cultural footprint, and has made me a more open and healthy well-rounded individual. In those 6 weeks, I was able to interact and work with people from other countries, understand the layers and intricacy of global issues, and have greater intercultural learning. I believe that those are things that are learned through practice and experience. Because of how meaningful my experience abroad was, I am currently working towards moving and starting a career in France.

2. What do you wish you had known before going abroad?

One of the things that I wish I had known before studying abroad is to take in every experience, because it all flies by so fast. The most important and strategic thing that I wish I had known was the importance of budgeting, spending smart and keeping track of the money that you spend. When you are in a new country, it is easy to get excited and a little carried away with your money. If you create a budget of how much money you would like to spend on food, shopping, travel, and miscellaneous, you can avoid overspending. Being prepared and organized with your money can make it easier to plan where you want to go and activities you want to do. For example, if you decide to travel while you are abroad, knowing how much money you have to spend on that trip will determine the arrangements you make when it comes to hotels, transportation, site seeing, etc.
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Rosetta Sadewasser
Alumni Insider

1. What do you wish you had known before going? 

While I was going to study abroad to be more independent, I wish I had known that it did not mean being alone. The roommate matching helped me find my best friends, people that I felt comfortable travelling the world with and spending nights exploring new cities. We leaned on each other for support while adjusting to culture shock differently. It was easy to get to know people in my classes because they were small and very interactive. Being at a local university helped me get to know people from all types of backgrounds and learn even more from others. I continue to talk to the life- long friends I made, and hopefully we will be able to visit Prague together again.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

I asked a friend while studying abroad what her first impression of me was and she told me confident, which took me by surprise. Typically, I am very shy and keep to myself, but what she saw was someone who stood up for their opinions and beliefs. Studying abroad helped me find my voice and confidence in my own skin that I did not know I had. I gained the independence I was looking for from traveling by myself from the first time and thoroughly understanding a new, foreign city. I was also very humbled from learning how to adapt to another culture and try to fit in to the local community. It took lots of observing and understanding others to get a sense of how to acclimate to my new surroundings. I feel more comfortable adapting to new situations and learning to problem solve as obstacles come up. I am aware of how my actions affect others and realize I would not be able to achieve as much from staying in the same environment.

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Rubie Gonzalez-Parra
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

My study abroad experience has taught me how lucky I am to have grown up in a diverse area, but most importantly, how to have tough conversations with people who did not grow up as I did. I found myself comparing the Spanish and American institutions, cultures, and values. I also saw how Spanish culture integrated with my own Latinx heritage, things I had taken for granted as simply our culture, but then seeing how it has evolved into something new or different.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 
My favorite course was my Spanish grammar class. For me, that was the first class where I felt I had the greatest diversity. I met different students that were from other Latin heritages, not just my own. They were all from other states other than California. I felt recognized and understood in that class because these were the students who shared similar life experiences as me in different corners of the world. We spoke the same language, and yet, had our own distinct characteristics.


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Sara Doss
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

While in Barcelona, I took an entrepreneurship class and it has to be my favorite class I have taken in my college career. My teacher, Carlos, was an amazing teacher and sparked my interest in a career in entrepreneurship. I learned what being an entrepreneur truly meant and how I can open my own business in the future. He also helped to want to pursue a specialization in International Business. I am so glad I took this class abroad so that I could see the aspects of business in a country outside of the United States.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad career has helped me shape my wants for a career by showing me that there is more to this world that the United States. It made me become more independent. It has helped me to open my options and seek jobs in other states/countries.

 

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Sarah Franco
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to explore the local culture?

I loved Florence, Italy. It was a very lively city filled with many things to do and see. I took full advantage of my summer abroad. I enjoyed the easy going nature of the Italian culture, especially the food and lifestyle there. I interned at a cooking school and it had international customers with whom I was able to interact with and share travel experience with. Florence was very international which helped when making new friends. The food and wine class I took helped me learn about the culture even more than I would have one my own.


2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you? 

I now know exactly what I want to do, now that I have been abroad. It helped me refocus my goals, and since I didn't know anyone one going into the program, it helped me learn how to do things on my own and made me more eager to leave my comfort zone, meet others, and branch out.

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Sarah Woods-Killam
Alumni Insider
1. What ways did you find to experience the local culture?

Being in Argentina was an amazing, unforgettable experience. I feel that I was able to immerse myself in the culture by constantly speaking Spanish with anyone I could outside of my classes (taxi drivers, people on the bus, shop keepers, etc.). Additionally, I went to as many Tango classes and Milongas (social dancing) as I could, which helped me improve as a dancer as well as learn about the history and beauty of Tango. I engorged myself on carne asado, empanadas and dulce de leche which are common foods in Buenos Aires. I chose to stay with a host and I know that I will always be in contact with her because she's wonderful. I walked around as many neighborhoods in Buenos Aires as I could to learn about the beautiful city.


2. What do you wish you had known before going?
 
I wish I had known how big of a city Buenos Aires was. I didn't have any particular notions about how I was going to get around considering I wanted to save as much money as possible, but the city has great public transport. It just means that I had to be careful about including travel time whenever I needed to get somewhere. I also wish I had brought a raincoat for myself because I didn't realize how rainy it could be during the 'winter' there (which is in June/July/August). 


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Savanna Lenker
Alumni Ambassador

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

I would tell prospective students to:  

 1) Don't get overwhelmed, professors are understanding and just want to push you to step out of your comfort zone to practice the language. 

2) Don't be afraid to ask questions, your professor and host family will be very willing to help you. 

 3) Practice the language whenever you can. Whether it is saying hello to a stranger in passing or talking to your taxi drivers, all of these conversations help increase your confidence in your language abilities. 

 4) It's okay to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and making mistakes is part of learning every language.

 

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

Studying abroad with CEA was the whole package. We had a small group of students that bonded over the course of our time together. I had an amazing host family experience, which allowed me to further experience the food and culture of Costa Rica. The CEA facility was an amazing resource to get school work done, hang out with friends, and cook our lunches. The built in field trips were well planned and allowed us to experience more unique places. The communication before I left the U.S. was prompt and straight forward. 

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Shamari Pitts
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite course abroad was Spanish 2051, “Spanish for Healthcare Professionals.” I enjoyed this course a lot because it was relevant both inside and outside of the classroom. The material learned in this course was health terms and vocabulary in the Spanish language which consisted of hospital terms, the body and its illnesses/diseases, and common phrases and dialogue that healthcare professionals would use to speak with patients and their families. Everything I learned in Spanish 2051 was relevant to the outside world. I realized this during my second rotation at the local Hospital Clínica Bíblica. I shadowed a general physician while he was seeing a fourteen year old patient who was feeling under the weather. While I stood in the room as he was checking her, I got to listen in on the conversation between the doctor, the patient, and her mother. I heard so many of the words and phrases (of cold and flu symptoms) I was studying and memorizing that same week for an upcoming quiz. The real life dialogue that occurred during my rotation gave me confirmation that my Spanish 2051 class was very relevant and helping me learn a lot.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My study abroad experience has shaped me today both career-wise and personally. In relation to my future career as a healthcare professional, studying abroad in (especially) a Spanish speaking country helped give me insight to the possibility of bridging the gaps in the health/medical field. In the U.S., many Spanish-only speakers are reluctant to seek the proper health care or are not treated with the most quality care due to the lack of understanding of language and culture from healthcare professionals. Studying abroad has advanced me in my goals of helping to bridge these gaps. Personally, my experience has shaped me because I am now a more open-minded and culturally aware young woman. I became more open minded and culturally aware after being in environments I was not used to and engaging in conversation and interaction with local people of my study abroad destination.
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Shannon Gage
Alumni Ambassador

1. What are your tips for learning the language? 

When I arrived abroad, I was pretty confident in my Spanish. I expected communication to be easy—I’d just focus on fine-tuning my skills. I was in for a surprise: From the moment I arrived, the Andalusian accent had me questioning whether I knew how to speak Spanish at all. 

The most helpful resource for language learning I had was my host mom. I am so grateful for our Spanish mealtime conversations. They taught me how to understand the accent and provided me with an opportunity to practice my Spanish every day. The fact that she doesn’t speak English made it even more helpful—communicating in Spanish was a necessity, not an option. 

Being surrounded by the difficult-to-understand accent took a toll on my confidence sometimes. That’s why talking to American friends from my program in Spanish was so important. We’d start speaking Spanish while walking to class or hanging out. It provided a non-judgmental, low-stakes environment in which to practice speaking and listening, and it was fun, too. 

I found my Spanish suffered the most when I traveled to non-Spanish-speaking countries over the weekend. Even though I’d only go a few days without being exposed to Spanish, I found my Spanish was much better after a weekend in Barcelona than a weekend in London. Spain has an abundance of beautiful and interesting places to visit that I would highly recommend to anyone seeking to improve their language skills.

2. What was your favorite class while abroad? 

I was a bit apprehensive about having to take a language or culture elective abroad, since it wouldn’t count as credit for my major or minor. But to my surprise, The Culture of Food and Wine in Spain was the most relevant and enjoyable class I took.

I mistakenly expected the class to be more cooking and tasting than history lectures, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually enjoyed learning about the gastronomical history of Spain. I saw the real-life applications of what I was learning in class everywhere. Little by little, everything from the food my host mom cooked to the stories behind popular Spanish idioms started to make sense.

The hands-on aspects of the course added an extra layer of depth to the experience. We got to cook dishes, taste foods and visit sights that had to do with what we were learning about. I don’t think I’ve ever had a class so tangibly interactive or so interconnected with my daily life.

It was cool to live in Seville and travel around Spain this semester. But it was even cooler to know how the amazing things I saw and ate came to be.

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

During my time abroad, I have developed personally and professionally. My public speaking skills improved, which will be helpful for my future career. The main way I achieved this was by speaking at the CEA Student Reflections Abroad conference. I crafted, rehearsed, and delivered a speech about how vlogging while abroad enhanced my experience with culture, friendships, and overcoming challenges. That leads me to my next point; vlogging increased my digital editing and recording skills, which is a personal hobby of mine. While I was in Prague and other nearby countries, I filmed and edited my experiences into short vlogs that CEA posted on their YouTube channel. You can watch one of the vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzzKdToppaE. Finally, studying abroad eliminated my fear of public transport. Public transport has always been an intimidating concept for me, but using it on a daily basis while abroad forced me to figure it out. Public transport is basically unavoidable in many parts of Europe, so I prospered from the “learn by doing” approach to using it. This could be considered a professional and personal development.

2. What do you wish you had known before going?

One thing I wish I knew before studying abroad is that you can’t compare your life abroad to your life at home. I figured this out towards the middle of my time abroad. In America, most of the time, I have a fixed schedule for my day-to-day life. I carefully manage my meals, workouts, studying, time with friends, and hours of sleep. When I first came abroad, I tried to align those aspects my life in Prague with the way it was back home. However, due to factors such as different class formats, traveling, and grocery stores in another language, it was impossible. Instead of biting all my nails off from the anxiety this caused, I took a different approach. Whenever I felt that feeling of “oh no, I would never do something like this back home”, I told myself it was okay and that this is an entirely different life for the time being. Eventually, those feelings of worry faded away and I learned not to compare apples to oranges.
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Sydney Schoeller
Alumni Ambassador

1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?

I am interested in becoming an Alumni Ambassador because of how deeply I feel that my study abroad experience has shaped my perspective and future goals. For example, I was able to take a course in human rights and immigration and study the process and laws by which refugees have been brought into The Netherlands. In conjunction, I was able to meet people outside of my classes who helped set up a "buddy program" specifically for supporting refugees as they arrive in the country. I was able to learn about both the laws and reality of refugee immigration, an issue I had previously been interested in and am now seriously interested in pursuing as a career. My study abroad experience allowed me to gain this insight into my career interests, as well as gain a clear vision on a future pathway to pursuing these interests. I would like to encourage other students to study abroad so that they can obtain this career insight and clarity. Additionally, I believe that studying abroad forces immense growth as individuals encounter challenges. I believe that these challenges and experiences, such as struggling to communicate in a foreign language or navigating a foreign public transportation system, shape people in a unique way that is hard to otherwise achieve. Subsequently, I believe that these experiences are something everyone should encounter at some point in their lives, but particularly while they are in the younger stages of their lives. Therefore, I also want to be an ambassador to provide encouragement and support for people who are seeking an opportunity to grow and experience a new culture, but might have concerns about the challenges they may face.


2. What would you say to students considering studying abroad with CEA? 

One of my favorite aspects of my CEA study abroad experience was my site advisor, Frans. I met many international students who were either exchange students or were part of other study abroad organizations. Many of them often felt misguided, overlooked, or as if they weren't getting the most out of their time abroad. I never had this feeling. The help and assurance Frans provided is invaluable. He provided insight into the best events and places to go in Amsterdam, most of which were not frequented by tourists. In addition, through my conversations with Frans, I felt like I got a much deeper understanding of Dutch values and ways of thinking - a perspective I would not have otherwise had.  Lastly, Frans was a constant source of help. For example, he helped each person in our program get our own bike at an unexpectedly low price. When I had a mechanical issue with my bike, he immediately came to help me and organized an appointment for me to get my bike fixed.  I feel so fortunate to have had such a helpful, reliable, and insightful site advisor for the duration of my study abroad experience.
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Tali Pilip
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

I experienced local culture while abroad by making some of the Parisian customs my own. One of the really big things I was able to experience that I will try to bring back to the U.S. with me is their pace of living. In the U.S., especially coming from the Silicon Valley, we very rarely take moments to slow down and enjoy our days. When we take breaks from work or school, we stay at home or go out to grab a quick bite to eat with friends, spending a majority of that time on our phones. The Parisians, however, use their prolonged mealtimes to take a break from their days, and to really have those long, meaningful conversations that can last several hours after a meal is finished. I also learned how to be more independent, in sitting on the terrace of cafes, slowly enjoying a coffee, and watching Parisians go about their daily lives.


2. What was your favorite course while abroad?

My favorite course abroad was the History of Parisian architecture. It was such an interesting way to learn about and to visualize the history of the city, while learning about what the future plans for Paris are as well. My favorite part of the course was our weekly excursions in which we would visit a site such as the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Centre Pompidou. On-site, we were able to not only apply concepts that we learned in class, but also to experience Paris through its incredible architecture. As I was also taking a fashion class at the same time and spending a lot of my free time in art museums, it was extremely interesting to see the juxtaposition between historical periods and how their art, fashion, and architecture either complemented or contradicted each other.
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Tayla Gaines
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

While abroad, I took Spanish for Medical Professionals and I loved it! Being that ultimate goal is to be come a physician, I find it most important to be able to communicate patients of all backgrounds so being able to be exposed to this information is very important to be. While taking this course I shadowed many different physicians at local hospitals so I implement everything I learned in the classroom.

2. What are your tips for learning the language?

Before going to Costa Rica I knew very little Spanish, but by the time I left I found myself to be a lot more knowledgeable. These are my 3 Tips on How to Learn a New Language.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice. There are literally so many apps that you can use to practice your new language. So practice every chance you get!
2. Use Your Sources. You are in a country where the language you're studying is spoken, so use that to your advantage. Do things like order your
food in the language, its great practice, even if you mess up.
3. Be Open Minded. Learning a new language is not easy and can often be quite the challenge, but if you're persistent you will persevere!
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Taylor Carnazza
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 give anyone studying a new language is, do not be afraid to practice with people, especially native speakers. Practicing with those who speak the language on a daily basis is the best way to comprehend conversational styles and accents. Although it may seem daunting at first, practicing is the only way to get better so don't be afraid of making mistakes because that's how you'll learn! Befriend people who live there and if you have a difficult time with that at first, you can always ask your institution if there is a pen-pal or meet-up program that allows you to be partnered up with students in the area trying to learn English. So many people now are eager to learn English to keep in mind that you'll be helping each other out.

2.  How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

I was fully immersed in the French culture and can say that I have learned so much while studying in Aix. I attended IAU with one other friend from school and it gave us the opportunity to build friendships with French students who did not attend IAU. I can easily say that I became friends with more French people than I did with people in IAU because I wanted to expand my horizons and fully get to know the culture. Getting to know a culture first-hand and through people whose origins are in that specific place is the best way to enjoy yourself abroad in my opinion. I am so thankful for my experiences there and cannot wait to visit my friends again at some point.

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Thania Inoa De Jesus
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture? 

As a MOJO for CEA I got to work with Emily to show everyone what my experience has been like. I have learned new skills through the program, like editing content. With this position I got to experience things twice and with more appreciation. As I have described in a blog I am a first generation college student and a Latina. Studying abroad is a huge deal for me. I have learned to love Alicante in a short period of time. I have come to love my roommates and my place. I have described it to be similar to my home country Dominican Republic because of some of the habits Alicante people have like the time of the siesta (naps). I have loved every day being here and will do it again 100 times if asked. The food is also so great, I have gotten in the habit of eating healthier and cooking every chance I get. That is something I don't have the opportunity to do in my college dorm in the states. Every new place I have visited reminds me of how blessed I am to be able to experience Alicante.

2. What was your favorite course while abroad? 

My favorite classes were Spanish And Social change and communications. I really enjoyed my Spanish class because of how diverse it was. We had a student from almost every continent. Every time i will arrive to class I'd sit next to a new person and learn a little about their culture or their lives. Social change & communications calls was a Spanish class as well. I enjoyed the challenge and learned a lot about society and how we have come to how habits of today. I got to be in a group of Spanish students who were so helpful to me whenever I needed the help.
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Theresa Thomas
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

My experience abroad has been immensely valuable in shaping who I am today. I learned how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, to embrace how it feels to be unsure of yourself in this new place while learning to thrive anyway. While traveling, you spend a lot of time with yourself. I was able to learn what values are most important to me, what I needed to truly be happy—material things and everyday comforts that I “thought” I needed, became obsolete. 

Professionally, the opportunity to improve my Spanish has been an immense advantage in my preparation to attend medical school and to eventually practice as a physician abroad in a Spanish speaking region. I became more fluent in the language, learning to switch between speaking Spanish and English without issue. There truly is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in it and to learn on your feet. My ability to speak Spanish to my patients will help to develop our relationship, and the experience living in a different culture has taught me to be more globally aware with the ability to relate to the different experiences and lives of others, especially my future patients.

2. What was your favorite course abroad?

I was absolutely enthralled by my course on Gender History in Latin America. The opportunity to learn while abroad is incredible because you learn from a completely different perspective. During this class we learned about the way gender relations and the patriarchy have evolved and influenced life in Latin America throughout time, specifically in Argentina. As I learned about the different historical eras and gendered events that took place, I was able to see their effects on present day life in Argentina. I learned to think more critically about the way society often operates and to analyze why things are the way they are. Being lucky enough to learn about Latin America while in Latin America taught me things from a different point of view that I never would have thought about had I not learned them from my local professors. My global view was broadened and I now feel like a much more informed and influential global citizen.
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Valeria Angel
Alumni Ambassador

1.  What were ways you found to experience the local culture?

Studying in Aix-en-Provence was amazing because I was able to emerge myself in the French culture, I had previously always been in love with the French culture, and being able to experience it first hand was truly eye opening and amazing. Getting to witness the difference in culture with American culture and Colombian culture (where i'm from) was very interesting because it was able to expand my knowledge on different customs within different cultures. Aix was a perfect town for this because although there were many tourists, there were also many more locals that you would become familiar with on a daily basis, and I was able to have conversations with them about living in France, along with practicing and learning better French.

 

2. What was your favorite course abroad?

My favorite course was the France during the Occupation course because although I was never fond of history, experiencing a different country makes learning history a lot more fun! I was able to understand the history of France a lot easier, and was more interested in it. What allowed this to be fun and interesting was the amount of history films we watched in class, along with a Field Study trip we took to Marseille to further understand what the French dealt with when Germany occupied France.

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