Meet the Fall 2017 Study Abroad Ambassadors!
Study Abroad Ambassadors are students who have recently studied abroad and are eager to share their experience, wisdom and advice with prospective study abroad students. If you need information about a particular country, program or have concerns about traveling to a new place feel free to contact an Ambassador!
Name: Sydnie Russian
Minors: English, Applied Linguistics
Study Abroad Program: Grint Center of Education and Culture at Moscow University, Moscow, Russia
Why I Decided to Study Abroad: I really wanted to get the full experience out of my Russian degree and actually experiencing the culture that you are studying is 1,000 times better than just reading about it! I also wanted to further my language skills by immersing myself in the language. This also gave me an opportunity to see how I liked teaching English as a Second Language, a possible career path for me.
The Highlights of My Study Abroad Trip: Visiting historical and cultural land marks like the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theater, watching the ballet Swan Lake performed live, seeing so many masterpieces of Russian and other European artists in the Hermitage and Tretyakov Galleries, having conversations in my second language with strangers (and having them understand me!), getting a new perspective on American politics and culture.
Best piece of advice that I received while I was abroad or that I have for people going abroad: If you are using a second language, don’t be afraid of sounding dumb! Native speakers love that you are even taking the time to learn their language and love to help you! Also, don’t over pack!
Skills I learned abroad: Confidence in my language abilities, how to navigate a large city and metro system, how to live on a budget, how to cook dinner for myself every night, time management skills (including using military time), and how to buy plane tickets, how to change them, and how to survive international airports.
My biggest concern before going abroad and advice for prospective study abroad students who may have the same concern: I was concerned about packing and I definitely over-packed or didn’t pack the right things. My advice is to pack at least 2 days before (or make a packing list long before that), and then take out probably a third. Your destination probably has every product you could need or want, and you are going to buy so much stuff while you are there because it’s not from America, how cool!
Name: Alissa Holthe
Major: Business Administration – Marketing
Minors: Psychology, Economics
Study Abroad Program(s): University of New York in Prague, Czech Republic
Why I decided to study abroad: I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I also love to travel and was looking for a new adventure! I knew it would be a great way to see the world, experience different cultures, and meet new people.
The highlight of my study abroad trip: The highlight for me was becoming close friends with my 3 roommates, who were from different areas of the world, and also the extensive amount of traveling I did with them. During my entire stay in Europe I enjoyed my time exploring 11 different countries and around 30 different cities!
Best piece of advice that I received while I was abroad or that I have for people going abroad: Enjoy your time while it lasts; it is unreal how quickly the time flies by. Meet new people! This definitely saved me from ever being super home sick. Also, travel while you can! Traveling is a great way to learn about yourself and what you are capable of, while at the same time seeing amazing places you never even dreamed of visiting! Traveling (I only stayed within Europe) is a lot more affordable than I thought, so definitely see all you can while living abroad! Just make sure to budget in advance so you know how much you have to spend. Always budget more than you need; I spent more money than I expected, but it was worth it!
Skills I learned abroad: I learned to be more independent and resourceful. This was especially true when traveling alone by yourself for the first time and also when trying to navigate a foreign city in which the native language isn’t English. While it was intimidating at first, it became easier as time went on and it helped me learn and grow as a person.
My biggest concern before going abroad and advice for prospective study abroad students who may have the same concern: My biggest concern was being alone in a foreign country. This fear was quickly eliminated when meeting other students in the same boat I was. Forming connections with other students was easier than I thought! Everyone else is looking for new friends too, just take the time to try to get to know them and you will find someone you click with!
Name: Maggie Wilcox
Minors: French, Applied Linguistics
Why I Decided to Study Abroad: Each time I travel, I grow as a person. I’ve come to love the roller coaster of being away from home, figuring out how to do basic things (buy food, go to the doctor, cross the street, greet someone, etc.) from scratch, and all the interesting people you meet along the way. Studying abroad not only makes you aware of other’s perspectives, but of your own culture too.
The Highlights of my Study Abroad Trip: Seeing Piton de la Fournaise erupting, being invited to dinner at my friend’s family’s house and eating genuine Creole food, teaching English for a language company, being my sister’s tour guide, sleeping in a hammock on the beach every weekend, buying fresh avocados and bananas from the local market, making friends from around the world, and having each weekend packed with hikes, waterfalls, and basins!
Best piece of advice that I received while I was abroad or that I have for people going abroad: Living abroad is a roller coaster. But it’s these moments; the highest of highs and the lowest of lows; that you will remember in your life. If you feel that you’re going out of your comfort zone, you’re doing something right.
Skills I learned abroad: Driving a stick-shift car, living out of 1 backpack for 7 months, changing a bike tire, cooking for myself and with friends, using public transport, increased my French and started learning Swahili, patience & diplomacy.
My biggest concern before going abroad and advice for prospective study abroad students who may have the same concern: I was frankly terrified that I couldn’t be away from home for two months, and then seven months. On my way to Réunion, I almost didn’t get on the plane. But once there, I wished that I could stay for a year, or even longer. Trust yourself. Even if you’re going to a country where you can’t speak the language, know that you’ll be better than okay.
Name: Kory Ford
Major: Exercise Science, Pre-Med
Minors: Spanish, Biology
Why I decided to study abroad: I caught the travel bug in high school on a school exchange to Mexico City and have been interested in experiencing new cultures and places ever since. The world has so much to offer, and studying abroad is a great way to open your eyes to other cultures without putting your education on hold!
The highlights of my study abroad trips: In Costa Rica, living with a host family and speaking only in Spanish allowed me to truly live like a local, which was an incredible experience. From the fellow Truman Students which I befriended to the weekend trips we took all across Costa Rica, it was an unforgettable two months. In Austria, I was able to visit 16 different countries and more than 30 cities all across Europe, including skiing in the Austrian Alps. I made friends from all across the world and countless unforgettable memories – truly the trip of a lifetime!
Best piece of advice that I received while I was abroad or that I have for people going abroad: Get out of your comfort zone! Make new friends from all over the world! Immerse yourself in the local culture! Study abroad is such a unique opportunity to learn more about people different from yourself, so don’t waste the opportunity by sticking to what you know.
Skills I learned abroad: Above all else, I learned to be more independent. I had to cook for myself for the first time, survive in languages which I didn’t know, navigate around dozens of new cities, and more. I also learned how to communicate with people of different cultures, survive without phone signal, and live out of a backpack for extended periods of time. There really is no better way to develop important life skills than to study abroad and force yourself to do so!
My biggest concern before going abroad and advice for prospective study abroad students who may have the same concern: My biggest concern was not knowing anybody and going to live in a language that I didn’t know. On the surface, it sounds like a lot, but I promise you it’s not even worth stressing about. I had no trouble meeting friends in my new home and we all helped each other get acclimated. Anyway, the English language and hand gestures can get you a long way in a foreign country!