Today’s blog post comes to us from API Global Leader and University of Hartford student Rachel Bonaparte! Rachel studied abroad with us in London and is now taking part in our academic year Global Leadership Academy. Please note that academic year global leaders attend training in Austin, Texas; which is part of what Rachel talks about in today’s post.
It’s been over a year since I returned from studying abroad, and I still think about London every day.
Coming home from living in a new culture, learning in a new environment, and exploring a new city for three months left me with one question; now what? Back in the United States, I felt like I was annoying my friends and family with talking about my experiences abroad, but I was always thinking about it so I kept bringing it up. I realized I needed to find another way to keep my study abroad semester alive other than talking about it constantly with people who didn’t exactly want to listen.
One way I was able to keep my study abroad semester alive was joining API’s Global Leadership Academy.
I have been so incredibly lucky to be a part of this program for the past semester and I am so excited to continue working with API next semester. As a global leader I have been tasked with promoting API and study abroad on my home campus. This includes planning events for students to attend. For example, I had an alumni pizza social, British afternoon tea event, and a couple informational sessions. These events were fun to plan, and the best part was that I had the chance to talk about my study abroad experience with students who were interested in going abroad. I could help answer their questions, give them advice, and hopefully help calm their nerves a bit about going abroad. I also got the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas for global training, where I got to meet people from around the country, speak to the CEO of API and explore another new city.
Another way I keep my study abroad semester alive is by being a global peer advisor at my university.
As a peer advisor I have office hours where students can come talk to me about study abroad and get their questions answered. It’s a good way for people to get a first-hand experience of what study abroad is like, especially if someone has never thought about it. I also have attended accepted students and preview days to try to promote study abroad to perspective students. Being able to talk about study abroad with people that actually cared and wanted to know more was so beneficial for me when I got home because talking about it got me excited.
Coming home from studying abroad was harder than I thought it would be. I am lucky to be able to have these connections to my experience.
For other students who are dealing with the same situation of being unsure of what comes next, getting involved with your home university’s study abroad office is one way to hold on to your time abroad. Also, reaching out to your study abroad provider to see if they have an alumni program is a great way to create even more connections.