Study Abroad: An Investment in Your Future
This blog post was written by Laura Jimenez ‘17, who studied abroad in Florence, Italy in the Spring of 2015 and Sao Paulo, Brazil in the Spring of 2016
Going abroad is one thing, sharing your experiences with others is another, but the overall impact that you can have on young students who are looking forward to have their own experience abroad is a personal and gratifying success.
I was invited as a panelist to the Study Abroad: An Investment in Your Future event. The purpose of this event was to discuss the role of study abroad in U.S. relations and practical ways students can access global opportunities. We were invited, as study abroad alumni, to share our experiences with all the attendees. I thought this would have been an easy task, especially since I had no doubt about the impact that studying abroad (twice) had caused on my personal and professional development. The event was early into the beginning of the semester, a time where a lot of students are still getting adjusted and transition from ‘summer-mode’, and therefore, I was not expecting a “full house.” However, the Olin Auditorium was packed to the brim with students, faculty and staff alike, which was for the best.
As I responded to the introductory question, my words trembled with nervousness. And then I saw the eyes of young people, first years, second years, juniors, and adults, thirsty for knowledge and excitement. I thought to myself, “people really want to know me, hear about my experiences, and they are actually very interested!” I gained a lot of comfort from their attention, and because of that I was able to connect with them. Meeting US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan was another great experience, because they are the quintessential example of taking one’s personal experiences to the national level, by actually making things possible for the new generation who thrives to gain an international education.
After the event ended, several students approached me, wanting to know more about my experience. For the following two weeks, I had students and faculty members, stopping me, intrigued about my experience, and looking for mentorship so that they can experience education abroad on their own, or recommend their children to go abroad. I felt deep gratification in being able to share my experiences that you do not need the financial means, you do not need to be scared about leaving the country, and you do not need to detach yourself from the world or your current venture. You only need to want to explore, have an open mind and be able to acknowledge with open arms and open soul how much of an investment studying abroad is, for your personal growth and your professional leverage.