API, Abroad, and Advocating, O my!

Spending time abroad is one the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done. It made me learn so much about myself and about other cultures around Europe. Returning from being abroad can be a hard transition for some, and even harder to put into words. Everyone asks “How was abroad?!”, and it’s really hard to come up with an answer that puts the whole experience into perspective. I’ve noticed that myself and many others that have gone abroad usually just say things like “Amazing!” or “I can’t even describe it.” How do you put into words four indescribable months of your life?

I really wanted to share my experience with others and help encourage others to go abroad, so I decided to apply to be an API Advocate. The position requires planning three events at your college that promote studying abroad. I wanted to be an advocate because it gave me another chance to encourage others to go abroad and I could give them a first-hand experience of that entire process. I knew that people who came to my events would be interested in hearing about study abroad and I wouldn’t be boring them with all I had to say. I got the position! I was so excited to plan events and get to meet students that wanted to study abroad.

My first “event” was to make a brochure for science majors, explaining how they could go abroad. My college, St. Mikes, has a great study abroad program, but not many science majors go abroad because of the strict requirements. I am a science major and managed to go abroad, so I really wanted to encourage this opportunity and explain that it can be done. It really is all about time management, and making sure you plan your schedule so that going abroad can happen for you. My second event was planning a panel where students from all different majors can come and talk about how they prepared to go abroad. I got together a group of students from different majors, that had all gone to different places around the world. We had a small group of interested students show up, so we focused on their majors and how they should prepare to go abroad. It was a smaller gathering but students that were interested in going abroad had a chance to speak with others that had gone through the same process with the same major.

My third “event” for being an API Advocate is this blog post. Being an advocate helped me shift gears back from being in Ireland, to being back in the U.S. It helped me by allowing me to relive my experience by telling it to others who want to go and experience it for themselves. Just because I returned from being abroad didn’t mean I had to stop talking about it, and this helped me do that. It is really a rewarding experience to be and Advocate and to be able to encourage others to take on this experience. I love getting emails from students, who want to go abroad and want advice, because I want everyone to be able to experience traveling as much as they can in their life. Traveling really helped to shape the person I’ve become, and give me a whole new outlook on life.

I encourage anyone returning from abroad to apply to be an advocate and try to make sure that everyone who wants to go abroad can, and you can help be a part of that process!

Hannah Kittler is a student at Saint Michael’s College and an API Campus Advocate. Hannah studied abroad with API in Galway, Ireland.

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