Anyone who has studied abroad knows the difficulties of coming home after a semester away. You may feel disconnected from the close friends you made abroad and perhaps even disconnected from close friends back in your hometown. You realize how tough it is to articulate the complexity of your experiences abroad—the challenges you faced, the obstacles you overcame, and the ways in which it changed you for the better. Furthermore, life doesn’t slow down, and that often means there is little time left to truly internalize and consider what studying abroad meant to you.
For both current students and alumni alike, we hope this list of ideas helps you remember, reflect on, and express the importance of your study abroad experience.
1.) Create a short film of your journey abroad: Get some use out of your footage from abroad by creating a short film for our Study Abroad Film Festival. First place prize is $1,000! Last year’s winner Alexa Penton (Beijing – Language Intensive, Spring 2014) explained that she was “less interested in debuting [her] filmmaking skills than communicating to people how important and impactful studying abroad can be in a young person’s life.” The deadline is Wednesday, July 1.
2.) Volunteer at your study abroad office: Donate some of your free time to your school’s study abroad office. Doing so is a great opportunity to reflect on what you appreciated most about studying abroad while also offering insight and advice to prospective students.
3.) Make an art project: Why should your maps, ticket stubs, and photographs be limited only to photo albums and journals? Check out our Pinterest board, Displaying Your Memories, for travel-related craft projects, ranging from DIY keepsakes to postcard wall art. Also consider using a photo publishing site to create magnets, calendars, posters, t-shirts, and greeting cards of your photographs.
4.) Add your study abroad experience to your résumé: Did you know that, on average, IES Abroad alumni earn $7,000 more for their starting salaries compared to recent U.S. college graduates? Add skills you gained abroad, such as flexibility, intercultural competence, and language comprehension to your résumé to prepare for the future and set yourself apart in a competitive job market.
5.) Connect with other IES Abroad alums: Our alumni are constantly amazing us with the wonderful things they do around the world. Take a peek at the IES Abroad Advancement and Alumni Engagement page for details on how to reconnect with former classmates, read the alumni newsletter, locate resources for living and working abroad, and just generally stay in touch with globally minded peers!
Ready to start your one-of-a-kind adventure? Head to www.IESabroad.org to learn about our 120+ program offerings in 30+ cities worldwide.