Lessons from Abroad (Study Abroad Conference)
This past weekend I attended a conference about learning abroad and taking those skills to the next level!
The conference was held in a very Silicon Valley type of environment. My definition of a “Silicon Valley” environment is a modern work space with a lot of freedom in architecture and mass creativity. You may still not understand what type of environment I am talking about. Don’t fret! I will be incorporating digital imagery from the conference into my post.
This year the keynote speaker was Fanta Aw from American University. Aw provides senior executive to 15 departments in Campus Life at American. She focuses on issues of campus internationalization, issues of inclusion, diversity and equity, and student engagement. The title of her talk was “What is the title of your book?” Literally, she had the attendees critically reflect on what the title of their book would be from study abroad experiences. The title of my book was “The Adventure of the Unknown,” this title symbolizes that one must step out of their comfort zone while abroad and take every task as an adventure. If you remember from earlier in the semester I shared with my colleagues that I got a tattoo of one of the Basque Country mountains. The experience played into the title of my book.
I was able to network and talk to other attendees about their experiences from the countries they represented. The common buzz word was “challenge,” a challenge to transplant and adapt into the culture, understand, breathe and live the culture. The talk about transplanting oneself into another route of study and culture. We received buzz words like “irritation, happiness, challenge.” We had to use these buzz words and describe a situation to our fellow peers that embodied the word. The word I received was irritation, so I told a story were a store clerk sold me 5 FAKE stamps at a cost of 22€ or $25, and there is no such thing as return polices at a gift shop. So I was out $25 🙁 . I shared the story with my host mom one evening over dinner and she began to cry because she felt I was insulting her and her country. I was just sharing with her the fact about the differences between a fake stamp and a real stamp, showing her the differences while conversing in Spanish.
I was able to network with professional government and non-profit organizations that seek students who have studied abroad. The organizations like the Department of State and the Peace Corps seek out those that have international experiences and can speak multiple languages.
The above picture shows the space where the Networking Fair was held. You can see the space is very old, yet modern. The location is the Wonder Bread Factory Event Space, what a creative name!
The above photo was before the panel on Reach abroad: Teach, Work, Volunteer. The panelist are from all walks of life including Peace Corps, Fulbright, and The French Embassy! It was an enriching professional and personal experience!’
In conclusion, I recommend that if you have the privilege to study abroad JUST DO IT! This concluding picture really emphases the experiences of an international education.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and if I can be of any assistance if you choose to study abroad, please let me know or you can also reach out to The Center of International Education (CIE).