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Abby Vogel
Alumni Ambassador
1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I would love to be given the opportunity to become a CEA alumni ambassador because CEA has given me the opportunity to culturally enrich my life. From applying to jumping on the plane, CEA staff members were extremely helpful, inspiring, and supportive people. Being an alumni ambassador would grant me the opportunity to be a part of the amazing CEA family. I want to inspire other students to study abroad through CEA and give people real life testimonies about what it means to study abroad. Studying abroad has allowed me to grow personally, professionally, and academically and has shaped my life forever. Given that I experienced the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 while abroad, I would be able to give support to other students because of what I have been through. Becoming a CEA alumni ambassador would allow me to share my challenging study abroad experience as well as the life lessons that I have been taught through this unique time. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities CEA study abroad has granted me and I want to share that same inspiration with others.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
Seville, Spain is an extremely unique and beautiful city. Between the delicious cuisine, Spanish language, and historical landmarks there is always something new to explore. Coming into my abroad experience, I did not consider myself a strong Spanish speaker. Nonetheless, I decided I wanted to improve my skills, so I chose to stay with a host mom. My wonderful host mom did not speak any English, which was challenging at times, but it became the most rewarding part of my experience in Seville. My host mom, roommate, and I developed a very strong relationship even through language and cultural barriers. Knowing I always had a welcoming, supportive, and caring household while abroad allowed me to freely explore other parts of the city. My Spanish dramatically improved because of the authenticity of Seville as a city. Although Seville is home to many famous landmarks including the Jewish Quarters, monument of Christopher Columbus, and the Royal Alcazar, my favorite part of Seville was interacting with the local culture. Eating at authentic restaurants, learning about Seville’s history, and speaking Spanish to other Sevillanos is what made my abroad experience rich and meaningful.
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Amanda Hall
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
I firmly believe that my study abroad experience has shaped me both personally and professionally in more ways than I can even understand right now. The first being it has made me okay with being uncomfortable. Studying abroad is the ultimate test of seeking discomfort: living with strangers, not knowing anyone, speaking a different language, however from this experience I have found that so much growth and amazing opportunities occur when we step outside of our comfort zone, and now I find myself searching for ways to seek discomfort in my everyday life. While I was in Granada, I volunteered in a bilingual school which gave me professional experience in global education and allowed me to further explore the ways in which I can incorporate my two majors--Spanish and special education-- into my future career. My life was enriched with new friendships, a newfound family in my host family, and most importantly a new home in Granada. All of these things are benefits that I immediately have felt I gained from studying abroad, yet I know that there are many additional ways in which this experience has and will continue to shape me for the rest of my life.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
One of my favorite components of studying abroad was the culture immersion. I lived in a home-stay while in Granada and found this to be one of the best aspects of my time there: whether it be using the local language with my host mother who did not speak English, eating tortilla de patatas, or participating in the midday siesta, I could not think of a better way to be immersed in the culture than living with locals. I also sought cultural experiences outside of the home as well and found no shortage of opportunities! I met locals by attending language exchanges, visiting my favorite cafe, or going for tapas. I celebrated local holidays such as Carnival and Día de Andalucia. I visited world heritage sites such as La Alhambra, La Sagrada Familia, and the Mezquita de Córdoba. Each of these unique experiences exposed me to a culture and way of life that was completely different from my own, giving me a newfound appreciation not only for my own culture, but of the beautiful traditions and people of another. Being immersed in a different culture was an experience like no other, and one that I urge all people to have.
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Angel Argueta Lara
Alumni Ambassador
1. Why should a student go abroad?
One of the best things about the CEA study program is that it offers an orientation program prior to the starting of classes and during that days I had the opportunity to meet so many people and also make new friendships. And in between this activity of orientation was when the onsite staff introduced us to the AICAPS activities which were different activities offered through the semester and the best part of it was that all of these activities were included in the price of our program. I attended many of thus activities but the one I enjoyed the most was the long day trips to other towns near Barcelona and the weekend Madrid trip which was an amazing journal from our departure until we came back to Barcelona. This was the aspect students joined the most about the program because of all the offering CEA made to us in making these activities possible.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
Since my first year in college, I had heard about the opportunity of studying abroad, and from that moment I knew I had to do it at some point in my college life. My freshmen year passed and when I started my sophomore year I started to plan my study abroad experience. I had many options which CEA offers but I chose Spain because of two things: the first one was because Spanish is my first language and I knew I was going to feel safer going to a new country where I spoke the language, and the second thing was that I really wanted to get to know the Spanish culture. Since my study abroad has ended, I can say, no matter the circumstances and how it ended, that my semester in Barcelona was one for the books. It was a time where I met so many people, made a lot of lifelong friendships, saw new and amazing places, and most importantly Barcelona helped me to gain more independence and to build up my identity as a person. Because of that, I would love to speak and talk to students about all of the amazing things a study abroad program offers, how it will change their lives and all the great other things that come along with it. I feel that if you want to find yourself, a study abroad experience is one of the best things you can do.
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Angela Richard
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
My abroad experiences have shaped me into the college student and young professional I am today in more ways than one. My study abroad experience in Granada was the best time of my life. For seven weeks, I was able to step way outside of my comfort zone in an environment that, although new, was one of the most inviting places I've ever been to. I felt at home in Granada, and this feeling I experienced from the beginning enabled me to have an immersive, enjoyable study abroad adventure. I was able to gain experience working abroad in the field I am passionate about, and I was also able to make lifelong connections that have blossomed into enriching friendships. When I virtually interned abroad with an organization in Seville, I not only adopted a global mindset and realized the inherent differences between the American workplace and the Spanish one, but I also realized exactly what I wanted out of a position centered around business practices. I gained valuable experience and developed my skills in intercultural communication, professionalism, time management, and leadership. My study abroad and intern abroad experiences were both wholly unique and different, but they have both shaped me into the person and professional I am today.

2. Why should a student go abroad?
Going to Granada presented itself with a bunch of opportunities, all thanks to CEA. At home in Vermont, I'm used to taking six classes and working three jobs on the side. I'm also used to intramural basketball games and field hockey games, as well as being a club leader and participating in group activities that I love. I was worried about not feeling busy while I was abroad, which may sound a bit odd. But, being busy is what I'm used to and what keeps me motivated, so I knew I had to find ways to feel fulfilled while in Granada. CEA met all of my expectations and more when I discovered all of the opportunities I could undertake while studying abroad. On top of my five classes, I volunteered at two elementary schools. At these schools, I helped the students foster their English language speaking, reading, and writing skills through a plethora of activities, such as creating games to remember vocabulary and practicing speaking in a comfortable setting. I also volunteered for an organization called T-Oigo, which helps young children with cochlear implants and hearing loss learn English. I was fortunate enough to work with a wonderful, bright 7-year-old girl, and her family treated me like one of their own after just one meeting. These volunteer opportunities wouldn't have been available to me had it not been for CEA's commitment to providing students with enriching, fulfilling experiences in their host city. I'm so glad I decided to take part in them!
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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 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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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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Brendan Mariles
Alumni Ambassador

1. What was your favorite course abroad?

My favorite course abroad was the History of Architecture because each week was a new experience and understanding of the city. My instructor was extremely helpful and always energetic which added to the learning experience. Each class really felt like a field trip and was always a way of getting us to go to a new part of the city we might never had come across. Having the opportunity to walk through history learning about the importance and impact French architecture had on the world was special. The best part of the course was all the bits and pieces books, or tours don’t tell you about, small secrets hidden within the architecture. The out of classroom interaction definitely helped with my overall approach on taking field notes and analyzing my surroundings too. If I ever have the opportunity to take a course like that again I would in a heartbeat.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I’ve wanted to become an alumni ambassador because of the tremendous impact my experience gave me, and I’ve wanted my own friends to have that same experience. Since my time abroad I can say that I've grown as a person and experienced so many unique situations which will stay with me for the rest of my life. Additionally, the relationships and friendships that I made while abroad have lasted to this day and I'm so grateful we can meet up and check in on each other to see how we're doing. After my semester abroad in France, I thought about how I could give back to my school and influence the students there to reach out and take initiative on learning new cultures. I started out by volunteering at my schools abroad fair, talking with students about my own experience and sharing my stories in Europe which could fill an entire book. I love talking with students about the opportunities and programs CEA offers because it truly is a life changing experience.

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Cammi Paladino
Alumni Insider
1. Why should a student go abroad?
Although my time was cut short, I loved the culture, people and atmosphere within Barcelona. I loved traveling each weekend and I loved the vibrancy of the city and area, especially the night life and sites. I loved how comfortable and at home I felt, as I was able to really navigate and explore all the wonderful things that Barcelona as to offer. The food was definitely a highlight as well and something that I loved documenting throughout my study abroad experience! Above all, I loved all my teachers at CEA and I really grateful for their kindness, dedication and support throughout my time abroad; it really made my experience a whole lot better!

2. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course abroad was Photo Journalism, with Professor Fred Anderson. I enjoyed this course the most because it was the most unique and valuable class I have ever taken. It pushed me outside of comfort zone, especially because I am a psychology major, and it educated me so much more than I could have ever hoped to learn about photo journalism. Every class was meaningful, challenging, exciting and memorable! I would definitely recommend this class to anyone in the future!
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Carlo Pezzana
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has study abroad experience shaped you?
This experience in Barcelona profoundly shaped me personally and professionally. Living in Barcelona, another country, and learning my third language, Spanish, enriched me and expanded my knowledge. I feel much more closed to the Spanish culture, but also with the Latin American one since I made a lot of friends from South America in Barcelona. Meeting a few locals helped to learn about the Catalan culture and the debate with Spain. I even learned a few words from Catalan, and I can understand it a little bit. I also made connections with a lot of American students from all around the country, and that was another significant aspect. From a professional point of view, I connected with a lot of people from students and faculty to professors. Moreover, attending classes at a local university helped me getting to know the education system in Spain, and I would consider the idea of pursuing a Master's degree in Barcelona and working in Spain, a country that hypnotized me with its warm, diverse and suave culture.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I would love to share my experience with other students. This is an opportunity to follow up and maintain the contact with CEA in a way that I will never forget my experience. Studying abroad for a semester or a longer period of time, is an opportunity that changes your life. It opens new doors and opportunities, it shapes your identity, and enrich you from every point of view. When I decided to study abroad in Australia in high school, my life completely changed. That was the best decision I have ever made. I would not be here applying to become an alumni ambassador without that experience. Since Australia, I became more open minded, and more eager to learn about other cultures. I love traveling, and take the most from every experience. I also like to build strong connections with other people, and it would be amazing to talk to other students about my experiences, influence them, and as an Italian student, to share my culture and let them know that going study abroad is a
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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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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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Erin Diacik
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course I took abroad was Cultural Values and Stereotypes: Spain and the U.S. This course was taught by my Academic Director, Mary Alice Soriero, at our CEA center in Sevilla. We learned about cultural values of the U.S. and Spain, as well as gaining valuable intercultural communication skills. It was so meaningful to compare the differences in the culture that is comfortable to me, and the culture that is brand new and shocking to me. Learning about these differences made a huge impact on reflecting about my experiences abroad. When I travelled, I found myself using what I learned in class to guide my behavior and observations I made about countries. My favorite part of the course was actually our final exam project, which we completed remotely at home. We were introduced to the capstone project on the first day of class, where we would create a video filled with our memorable experiences and lessons learned abroad. I met some lifelong friends in this class, and at the end of the semester, it was so meaningful and emotional to watch videos of my friends and classmate’s growth and deep understanding of Spanish culture, all while honoring our beautiful city.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
Despite going abroad in the midst of one of the most challenging times our nation has ever experienced, I learned so many valuable lessons that I can apply to my future. I made the decision to study abroad solo, meaning I did not travel with any friends or anyone I knew. I also made the decision to travel somewhere where I had never learned a day of the language. This became a huge factor in shaping me today. I learned that I should never be scared about new opportunities, because I will have or find the support I need to make it successful. Although my experience was cut short, my time abroad in Spain gave me confidence that I will able to carry for the rest of my life. In January, I knew a handful of Spanish phrases. But in March, I was able to confidently engage in real conversations with my host dad. Studying in a place where English was rarely heard was overwhelming and scary at times, but one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. Studying abroad taught me to make the most out of every moment, because you never know when it could be taken away from 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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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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Jekyra Felton-Cobb
Alumni Ambassador
1. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I would like to be an Alumni Ambassador because being a first generational college student that has been able to not only be successfully enrolled in college, but to have the opportunity to be the first in my family to study abroad, has made me realize that there are students in the world who are in the same position. There are students like me who have the hunger to be successful, well-rounded and experienced but don't have any knowledge or confidence that it could be done. Becoming an Alumni Ambassador will sincerely help me fulfill not only my life, but another students'. Becoming an Alumni Ambassador goes beyond me and my wants, it's the opportunity to give other people the chance, just the chance to become a better version of themselves. I can potentially change someones life just like mine has been forever changed, by studying abroad.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
My study abroad experience has shaped me today by allowing me to see the right path for my career. There has always been a constant struggle knowing what I wanted to do with my career, but studying abroad has confirmed that I want to pursue languages. I want to help students learn English, Spanish, etc. I want to help students, especially students of color, have more financial opportunities to study abroad. It has shaped me to look at the bigger picture and want to help others. Personally, my study abroad has shaped me into being a person who tries to enjoy what is in front of me. To put my cellphone down and to embrace the atmosphere around me. This experience has made me more socially aware.
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Jordan Reynolds
Alumni Ambassador

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

Although my time abroad was cut short, the two and a half months I spent abroad were some of the best moments of my entire life. I was skeptical at first to go through a different program than the study centers offered through my university, but CEA was so well organized and interactive, I don't know if my abroad experience would have been the same through any other program. Because only one other student from my school was in the same program as me, being an ambassador would allow me to better promote CEA to students at the University of Oklahoma and send more students on the experience of a lifetime.

2. Why should a student go abroad?
One thing that stood out to me and ultimately solidified my decision to go with CEA was the multiple excursions planned throughout the semester. I loved the way CEA gave us the opportunity to see different aspects of the city we studied in as well as nearby cities that was included in our tuition and fees. Some of the excursions I loved was the day trip to the Italian Riviera as well as the hike to see the blooming mimosa trees. Another fun thing my onsite staff did was a wine and cheese tasting. They taught us what wine paired well with what cheeses, and how to properly uncork a bottle. If it wasn't for CEA, I don't think I would've interacted with the culture around me as much as I did.

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Judy Ortega
Alumni Ambassador

1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?

Through the tasks and projects, I was assigned during my program, I have grown more confident in my own skin and developed this new sensation of self-growth which has affected me in an academic, personal, and professional manner. Prior to this internship experience, I rarely posted on social media, and never embraced the confidence to post content about myself, but after this program, I feel so much more confident all around!

2. Why did you choose to become an Alumni Ambassador?
Given the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was one of a handful of students to complete a global virtual internship program, and would like to share this unique experience with students seeking some global work experience from the comfort of their own home!

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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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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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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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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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Mackenzie Brady
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
The study abroad experience has changed me in some of the best and most unexpected ways. I remember waiting in the Chicago airport and getting so sick because of nerves and asking my mom to come pick me up. However, what felt like days later I was calling my mom crying that my experience was ending early. The study abroad experience has shaped me into the most independent I have ever been. I learned responsibility, independence, and fearlessness through the adversity going on through the coronavirus and all the challenges with finding flights and etc. I no longer needed friends to go with me places, I began to enjoy doing things on my own. I never would have seen myself going to get coffee with someone I had spoke to for two hours a few days before and enjoying myself and feeling comfortable. I absolutely feel changed and my life has bettered from studying abroad.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
My experience inside Granada was phenomenal. My host family was so warm and friendly, I spent a lot of time in the house and on the street with them, learning the cultural norms, where the best bakeries are, and the best restaurant for a tapa. At least once a week I participated in an 'intercambio' a language exchange program in which I spoke in Spanish with native speakers for an hour and then we switched and the native speaker practiced their English. I adored this experience and frequently would make friendships with locals and spend time with individuals outside of the program. Finally, I loved experiencing the culture on my own. After class I would take a long walk home, sit in the park, buy some goodies from the bakery, and interact with locals to ask for directions or recommendations. This was one of my favorite parts because I began to become like a local to some businesses and saw the same people in the park on my walks home.
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Maria Castiblanco
Alumni Ambassador
1. Why should a student go abroad?
My favorite thing I enjoyed the most when I was abroad in Barcelona was the different culture I was introduced to. This past semester was the first time I have ever been to Europe, so I really loved that I got the chance to expand my knowledge on the different culture in Barcelona from my own culture. It was very important to me that I picked a country where I was able to expand my knowledge on culture and Barcelona was the place for that. I learned to come out of my comfort zone and experience a new life.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
While I was abroad I enjoyed every moment of it! I got the opportunity to learn more about the culture, city, environment, and most importantly myself. Being an Alumni is important for those who plan to study abroad during the college career, and I believe I would be the best fit for this position because of my overall experience. I would love to promote studying abroad with this incredible program because I strongly believe that CEA can be promote to spread awareness to students wanting to study abroad.
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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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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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Mayana Torres
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
My study abroad experience has shaped who I am because it reminded me that I am capable of so much. That I am strong enough and determined enough to achieve my dreams. That even though you might be scared of stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will come out the other side stronger and with so much joy. During my study abroad experience, I pushed myself by speaking Spanish in and out of the classroom, by going to local events and shopping at local stores. By taking the train and walking to new parts of the city to learn about the different neighborhoods. By signing up for classes outside my program and volunteering with an organization. These are things that I do back home, and brought me joy to take part in abroad even with its challenges. Study abroad shaped my career because as an Artist and history major, I was able to go to certain exhibits and learn about things that I never knew, things that inspired me to create certain art pieces. As an inspiring environmental law student, learning about the communities within Barcelona, the city mapping, and immigration as expanded my knowledge and my perspective.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I would like to be a CEA alumni ambassador because I would love to inspire other people of color to study abroad. I couldn't have gone abroad without the support of my family and community. Studying abroad is something that it very special and doesn't come as easy as some like to assume. I was love to help others go abroad by being the person they can say did it. A person that can help them push through any fears and get them on the path of saving and preparing for this experience that they will remember forever.
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Mia Farris
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did your study abroad experience shape you?

I was so terrified to study abroad. I found it to be so daunting, and I was so scared of the unknown. When I got to the airport I remember thinking that I'd never get use to it. I also thought I'd never be able to speak French to a native French speaker. I came to find that I was much more adaptive than I gave myself credit. Studying abroad gave me a confidence in myself that was lacking before. I am forever grateful to my experience and those who helped me along the way.

2. What made CEA memorable for you?
My favorite aspect of CEA study abroad was the excursions with my group. I think having a set group and leadership helped us grow more acclimated, and made Grenoble feel more like home. The best trip was when we all went to Paris together. Thanks to these experiences, I was able to form friendships with people who I would have otherwise never met!

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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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Najwa Baqdounes
Alumni Ambassador

1. How did your study abroad experience shape you?

When students who studied abroad say that "it completely changed their life," they were not kidding! After just a few months of living in another city away from friends, family, and my normal daily schedule, I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy the daily life I was adjusting to. Many skills and character traits that I developed abroad I was able to apply to school and work opportunities when I came back home. My communication skills, service management, and growing understanding of cultural diversity, has helped me with interviews with potential employers and even benefits me in my casual conversations. Having the opportunity to study abroad taught me how to be more appreciative and initiative in my daily work and personal life.

2. What was your experience with the local culture?
Although I expected to be shy and intimidated by the local community around me due to the language barrier and difference in culture, I immediately felt welcomed and excited to be abroad. I went from feeling lonely the first few days to feeling completely comfortable and outgoing around the community. I would have never guessed I would be as lucky as I was to find a large group of local friends so easily who were never shy to show me around at their favorite local spots. Then, I realized that all of my fellow abroad students were just as comfortable and welcomed as I was. I will never forget the friendships I made with everyone from the local convenient store owners to local friends and their families.

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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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Sarah Wu
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
It has changed me so fundamentally that I find it difficult to fit back into the mold of me from before. Before, I was set on graduating in two years, even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after. I was set on finding a professional internship this year, even though it didn’t appeal to me. I was set on having a career in the U.S., even though there was just something about Europe that called to me.
But since then, I have gotten a new lease on life, a new kind of mentality. I have applied to be an assistant teacher in Spain for the upcoming year with no plans for what will happen after. I have also decided to focus on things that make me happy, like learning languages. I’m even thinking about building a life in Europe. And despite the uncertainty of it all, I find myself content with it.
No longer am I fixating on a future or hanging on to my past, trapped between the two. Just being is absolutely liberating, and I have Spain to thank for setting me free.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I genuinely believe that studying abroad is one of the best, if not the most life-changing thing, that I have ever done. I was feeling very lost in life and I felt like I didn’t know myself, but going to Spain changed all that. It opened my eyes to a new way of life, and it gave the change of perspective I needed to move forward. And although I’m still trying to figure myself out, studying abroad instilled a confidence and a newfound sense of adventure in me that I would not have gotten otherwise. And it is this that I want other people to experience as well, especially if they are just as young as I am.
I don't think people understand just how much travel and culturalization can change you. When you are thrust out of your comfort zone, you are forced to adapt and that leads to growth and new realizations. Additionally, you get the chance to embrace other cultures and meet incredible people. Studying abroad makes you a global citizen and overall, a better person. And this is something I want for everyone.
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Scott Budkofsky
Alumni Ambassador
1. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
Interacting with the people of Barcelona was my favorite part of studying abroad. I was able to develop relationships with many local people throughout the semester. I became friendly with the door-woman, Carmen, who worked in my building, saying "Hola, buenos dias" every morning and occasionally making some small talk. Carmen recommended two of her favorite restaurants to me, both of which I never would have thought to try without her recommendation. I also became friendly with the people who worked at a bakery on my block and the Italian family who owned and operated my favorite restaurant in Barcelona. We would complement each other's outfits and wave to each other when passing by. Furthermore, some of the conversations I would have with taxi drivers were hilarious. From teaching one driver about baseball, to arguing over the rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, and much more, there was never a dull conversation. The funniest response I got was from a taxi driver who was over 70 years’ old who claimed that the clubs were his favorite part of the whole city! The interactions with the local people of Barcelona were definitely a highlight of my study abroad experience.

2. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course that I took while abroad was the Cross-Cultural Management course. This course taught me how to appreciate the differences between my own culture and the foreign culture which I was surrounded by as well as all other cultures around the world. I learned how to utilize the differences between myself and the culturally diverse people with whom I interact and to learn and benefit from them. As opposed to viewing cultural differences as a barrier, I learned how to use them as a tool.

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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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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 Schwaller
Alumni Ambassador
1. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course abroad was Seville: Culture, Identity, and Citizenship in the City. This course was my favorite because I was able to learn so much about the city I was living in. My teacher was wonderful and it was clear she had her own passion for Seville. We learned about Seville from centuries ago up until modern day Seville. This class was fascinating because we learned the history and origins or the city and all the hidden details we wouldn’t have known if we just came to visit for a few days. What made this course so special was it was interactive. My teacher had class periods where we would walk around the city to different neighbors and learn about specific buildings or the communities daily lives. I loved learning about Seville and this class made me appreciate the city even more than I already had. Attending a class abroad is also unique in that the teachers always encourage you to take full advantage of the city and the time you have. My teacher would always give us ideas on where to go and what to do and incorporate it in her lesson. I knew this was my favorite course abroad when one day, my teacher gave the class an assignment to just sit outside and observe the people and life around us and take notes. Doing that particular assignment, I sat by the river of Guadalquivir observing and taking notes, I became more aware of the city and people around me. It made me realize I was lucky to be there and have this once in a lifetime opportunity. This class will always stick with me for years to come because it gave me a deeper insight on Seville and for that I will always be grateful.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
My experience with the local culture abroad in Seville was more than I could have ever imagined. In Seville, I lived with my host mom, Susana, during my semester and was able to jump right into local culture. My host mom only spoke Spanish so this was a great opportunity for me to focus on my Spanish and grow as a Spanish speaker. I was lucky enough to live with my host mom and for her to introduce me to her neighborhood. The neighborhood I lived in was in Los Remedios, which consisted of families and hardly anyone spoke English. At first this was a challenge but I was able to gain confidence everyday. I was able to frequent the local coffee shops daily and even get to know the waitresses at the coffee shop I went to and recognized the other regulars that would come in . This really made me feel like I was living my abroad experience to the fullest by getting to know my neighborhood and the community that lived there. Along with this, I was able to experience a lot of the local culture by attending Flamenco shows and by going to restaurants and bars that had local musicians and dancers. This was a great way to see what Seville had to offer in terms of a great cultural experience. When studying abroad, something I learned that really helped me immerse myself in the culture was to never say no to an invitation to do or see something. Saying yes, even if I was tired and wanting to stay in, I never regretted the outing. For me, it was important to take advantage of all Seville had to offer, whether that be museums, Flamenco shows, or walking around and sightseeing. I have especially fond memories of spur of the moment invitations and having a great time learning and seeing more of my city. This also allowed me to meet people I never would have met if I didn’t put myself out there and spend my time abroad wisely.
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Taylor Christie
Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
College is a time to really dive deep into who you are and where you want to go in life. Studying abroad has not only allowed me to meet people around the world, but it has also allowed me to truly meet myself. It's pushed me to be more independent and self-reliant, which has also made me more courageous. I've been able to study cultural diversity and even acquire a new language. Professionally, it has provided me with a number of skills that have prepared me to work in cross-cultural teams and communicate clearly. Ultimately, my time studying abroad has been an incredibly formative experience.

2. Why should a student go abroad?
When you first go abroad, it can be really scary. Once you're on that airplane, heading to the Czech Republic it can feel like you're leaving your friends and family behind. However, it doesn't take long to realize that you'll be making friends that feel like family in no time. One of the best aspects of my study abroad experience are the lifelong friendships I've made and the incredible memories that go along with them.
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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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