Continuing the Study Abroad Experience at Home [API Blog]

Today’s blog post comes to us from Lesley University & API alumni Hannah Levine! She studied abroad with us in Madrid, Spain. She’s sharing with us some ways to stay involved in your study abroad experience after you return home!

Madrid – Cathedral at Sunset

During your study abroad journey you learned and experienced so much. Not only did you learn about another culture but you also gaining a deeper understanding of your own identity and where you fit in the world. You grew as an individual and gained some key life skills. You feel cultured and invigorated to share your experiences with everyone! However, it’s already been a few weeks since your return and no one seems to want to hear about your stories anymore. So, what now? How can you keep your study abroad experience and passion for other cultures going?

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

  • Attend a re-entry event at your school or the Lessons From Abroad Conference.
    This is a great opportunity to share and exchange study abroad experiences with your peers; but also, to unpack your experiences and to learn how they can be transferred to the workforce. It’s also a great opportunity to spoof up a resume or cover letter. The API toolbox is a great resource to get you started. In today’s Globalized market employers are in search of young applicants with international experience, problem solving and cross-cultural communication skills. Your travel stories can be a great way to explain how you learned key skills that can help you to stand out. Some examples being how you took into consideration exchange rates and created a budgeting plan and or took the initiative to travel on your own, put in the research and planned all the logistics from travel, itinerary, lodging and etc.
  • Reach out and utilize API!
    API has an alumni network – Returning students have the opportunity to continue to be engaged with API through a variety of alumni programming opportunities.  Whether you are connected through the API Alumni Network, keeping up to date with current job postings and items of interest in the API Alumni Facebook and LinkedIn groups, API continues to support participants post-experience.
  • Additionally, API’s Global Leadership Academy offers student leaders the opportunity to build core competencies of global leadership in a dynamic and creative atmosphere. 
    The program helps participants develop skills to share their experience in their community, on campus and in job interviews. Students host collaborative events to share their international story and learn to integrate their international experience into their chosen career path.
  • Don’t be afraid to go back to your study abroad office often and to ask your advisors for options on what you can do to help either international and or national students.
    After my study abroad experience, I practically lived at the study abroad office, not just because it was comfortable and because I liked the people but because I wanted to do more. You may be surprised by how much help you can provide and what opportunities (some of them paid) maybe available. Some possibilities include:
    • Becoming a global student mentor & helping international students to assimilate
    • Becoming a peer mentor & helping your fellow peers find the best program
    • Volunteer by tabling & promoting the program you went abroad with at study abroad fairs, events & orientations
  • Join a language club (and/or become its leader) to continue practicing your foreign language skills and to have the ability to create events that would allow you to further share this language with your peers and community.

Getting involved outside of the school setting

  • Cook a meal from your study abroad location and share it with friends and or family. Not a cook? Not a problem! Find a local restaurant which serves that ethnic cuisine & take your friends.
  • Look up your study abroad country’s consulate website. Sometimes they post local events and or activities, as well as some other useful resources.
  • Google and see if there are any local groups and or events linked to the country you studied abroad in; you may be surprised by what you find.
  • Stay in touch with the friends that you made abroad and become digital pen pals.
  • Create a scrap book or video montage of your experience.
  • Follow a news channel from that country and listen to it once a week to stay up to date and practice your language comprehension skills.
  • Watch and listen to media in that language whether it be in the form of music, movies or shows. Many streaming websites usually have a good library of foreign films and you can even change the language and or watch with subtitles.

This is just a general list of all the options that are easily available to you to continue your study abroad experience and to share your passion of travel and other cultures with those around you after re-entry.

Even if you don’t utilize any of these options just know that wherever you go, you unintentionally end up taking a piece of that place back with you whether it is a new expression, recipe, outlook, etc.  For me, my study abroad experience and re-entry completely re-routed my life trajectory. It led me to pursue a career in the international higher education field so that I may share my passion for other cultures and help future youths to have an impactful international educational experience.

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