Student to Student
The Study Abroad Office
A Student Perspective
When we got back from studying abroad, all we wanted to do was talk about our experiences; but none of our friends was all that interested. So we kept our study abroad experiences fresh and alive-while gaining great experience in the field of international education-by getting involved at our college's Center for International Education. We were able to talk with people who actually wanted to hear what we did while abroad!
Both of us became involved in many aspects of the office and eventually became interns. Peer advising after returning from your own study abroad experience is one of the best ways to get involved and really draw upon your experiences for the benefit of others. We held office hours for student appointments and facilitated the orientation for our program. We also organized social get-togethers (barbecues, dinners, traditional dance lessons) with the students right before their departure so they could ask even more questions and get to know each other better. The benefit to students was that we had already gone through everything they were about to embark upon. We also found that as students we could answer questions they might not have felt comfortable asking a professional staff member.
As interns we used our creative side to send out two e-newsletters to prospective and returned students. We worked mostly independently and were able to coordinate different projects on our own. For example, we each coordinated the International Classroom Speaker program and ran study abroad general information sessions. Working independently, with guidance, helped us to develop the skills it takes to work a project through from start to finish. The final project of our internship was to present at our state NAFSA: AIE conference, where we not only learned from the professional presenters but also got to share information about our office with them.
One thing we both appreciate about our work is that the professional staff treats us as equals. We are encouraged to make suggestions and share our ideas, and the staff are very willing to both listen and to help us. Our work since returning from study abroad has helped both of us discover our future careers. The benefits of our involvement with the office have been far-reaching.