You studied abroad, now what?
The return home from studying abroad was a whole bag of mixed emotions, spanning from intense sadness to extreme joy. I was upset to be leaving such a beautiful and naturalistic country, but also happy to return home to the comfort of my family and friends. This “bitter-sweet” experience lasted about a week, until my denial phase that I was no longer in Australia wore off.
I had to habituate back into “normal” American culture, resuming my daily activities now at home. My experience in Sydney, Australia had been so rewarding, that upon returning home I immediately knew something was missing from my self-fulfillment. I needed to fill the void that I was left with after the completion of my semester of learning a new educational system, traveling and meeting new friends all while exploring the culture.
Continuing My Study Abroad Experience
Everything changed when I received the email from IFSA regarding the application to become a Global Ambassador. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a participant! This would be a great way to fill that “void” I was feeling. Going into my second semester as a Global Ambassador, I can confidently say it is! It has allowed me educate others about study abroad, as well as staying in contact with other alumni, sharing stories, struggles and gains.
My role as a global ambassador allows me to continue my study abroad experience. Conversations with inquiring prospective students helps to strengthen my awareness towards the everlasting benefits of studying abroad by keeping my experiences sentient. I continuously discuss the countless advantages of studying abroad while simultaneously sharing my personal experiences, adventures and knowledge. The benefits of studying abroad can be numerous and seem to be overwhelming to some.
I was apprehensive about studying abroad after my first conversation with my school’s study abroad office. It seemed as though there was a daunting “to-do’s” check-list of prerequisites before I would be able to securely fly across the ocean to a foreign country. Little did I know that all of this hard work would one day seem microscopic compared to the extraordinary experience I had in Sydney, Australia.
Finding My Voice
I have been led to a newfound interest of speaking on behalf of an outside organization, because of my experiences as a Global Ambassador on campus. As I continue to have conversations about promoting global education, I find an innate characteristic of my personality has been triggered. I have always felt shy and reserved when presenting in front of peers and professors.
My reservations have been challenged due to my current experiences of promoting global education. I have experienced passion during these discussions, thereby feeling comfortable and conveying confidence while speaking. I enjoy providing my own knowledge in order to give students an insight into an experience of a lifetime.
Combine Passion With Future Life Goals
These impactful conversations have solidified how I would like to proceed with my leadership skills. I have gained an increased interest for seeking truth, meaning and understanding of differences outside of my own perspective. I have enjoyed being an ambassador for IFSA and believe I would like to continue using my past experiences to be an advocate for those who need a voice, specifically children. I always knew I wanted to help children, but I was always apprehensive about which way I felt called to do so. The continuation of my study abroad experiences has helped to shape my post-graduate plans.
As a current senior, these encounters have solidified my passion of directing and helping those who are in need of guidance and comfort. I want to work alongside children, as their representative. In becoming a child life specialist, I will be able to voice their opinions and protect their rights as they grow into our future generation. I hope to inspire children to become strong future leaders of their own.
I am looking forward to combining my passions with my line of work, as I believe I have established a firm platform for my next journey towards becoming an advocate. Broadening my scope has allowed me to think beyond myself into a more universal way of thinking. All in all, one of my greatest joys has inadvertently helped to shape my future goals.
I feel strongly that by looking into the study abroad experience you will have a rewarding experience that will spark your future passions and goals.
Grace Littner is an Interdisciplinary Health Service student at Saint Joseph’s University and studied abroad with IFSA at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in Fall of 2018.