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February 16, 2024

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Going abroad enhances job opportunities

An employer knows three things about an applicant who has spent time abroad: they are intelligent, independent, and are willing to encounter challenges, according to Stacy Benander, President of Athena study abroad.

But study abroad students return with more than an improved resume; they bring home unique stories worth sharing and experiences that re-shape their perspectives and, as a result, their lives.

At the Study Abroad Fair yesterday in Olscamp Hall, room 101 was filled with distinctive, irreplaceable stories and experiences.

Christmas in Austria

Heidi Schmoll, a graduate student at the University studied in Austria.

“Not to sound cliché, but Christmas in Austria was magical. Walking around the markets with hot spice wine, eating cookies and gingerbread, seeing different cultural traditions – it was wonderful,” she said.

She went on to describe learning to snowboard alongside children half her size who were “born with skis on,” moving down the slopes like professionals while she stumbled down awkwardly.

“I cannot imagine my life without this experience,” Schmoll said.

Cobblestone and Cable Cars

Justin Deitchman, managing editor of Student Traveler Newsletter had his first experience abroad with his brother, and became addicted to the sense of adventure and freedom in traveling.

He recalled sitting in an Internet café in Istanbul, writing about an English poet; listening to the mosque calling followers to prayer in a shrieking voice that has echoed the same way for centuries, competing with the modern noise created by cable cars and people typing on computers in the cafe.

“I found myself in the middle, in this nexus of cultures and time,” Deitchman said.

Discovering history, literature, and culture to be living, breathing and relevant cannot happen outside one’s comfort zone. Novelist Anne Lamott said that after being forced into trying situations, illumination is born.

Deitchman’s decisions to go abroad were not borne of financial stability or a close friend’s encouragement.

He charged the plane ticket to a credit card without money, and it forced him to have a goal. Deitchman knew this would force him to secure the funds necessary for the trip, and believed it was worth the work. He earned just enough the summer before he left, and he was off.

Though he traveled alone, he met other travelers along the way. He described meeting girls in Italian cities, sharing the same experiences, spending days together. The relationships are fleeting but intense, and though Deitchman arrived alone, he was not lonely.

Rolling with the Punches

Lance Loreno, a Spanish education major at the University described Spanish culture as much more laid back. He explained that his experiences abroad taught him to relax and enjoy life. They also forced him into trying situations, where he discovered his own capability to solve problems and be resourceful.

Loreno found himself in Barcelona, without a functional credit card or a hotel on an already busy Easter weekend.

He explains that the situation was difficult, but overcoming these problems alongside his friends allowed him to realize his own capacity to conquer obstacles.

“My college experience would not have been complete without studying abroad,” Loreno said.

Tasting Life’s Sweetness

Jennifer Kisner, senior, studied in France.

“There is a value of the aesthetic, it’s not all about function,” she said.

She recalled a meal that lasted five hours, each course presented uniquely, slowly, with various wines, cheeses, and chocolate.

Kisner explained that spending time with people over a meal and appreciating the food and the relationships, taking everything in slowly, was valuable and memorable for her.

Coffee and Conversation

Stacy Benander, President of Athena Study abroad, lived in Toledo, Spain as a college student. The experience abroad shaped her life and became her career.

“I remember talking over coffee with a man from Ireland and another from Spain, and it was a culmination of my experience, three cultures finding common ground. Experiences like this cannot be duplicated.”

Benander went on to explain that the opportunity to study abroad is rare, and uniquely convenient for college students.

“I have trouble finding two weeks to study abroad, and this is my field. There may be no other time in your life that you can live somewhere for months, get credit, and have that full experience.”

The University offers a variety of programs to countries all over the globe. Knowing another language is not essential, and financial assistance is available. For more information on the Study Abroad programs available at the University e-mail [email protected].

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