Our May Ambassador of the Month, Samekeh (Sam) Harris Reed, greatly enjoys talking about their experience studying abroad on the Spring 2017 IES Abroad Tokyo – Language & Culture Program. A Psychology major with double minors in International Relations and East Asian Studies, Sam knows the importance and benefits of studying abroad, and hopes to one day work in the field of international education.
Read on for Sam’s insights into budgeting before going abroad, as well as tips for how to handle returning home after study abroad.
IES Abroad: What advice do you have for other students on funding their study abroad experience?
Sam Harris Reed (SHR): It's going to be difficult and tedious, but write any and every scholarship essay that you can. If you really want to go abroad and you're passionate about your reasons, put your passions in writing and convince people! Scholarships, extra shifts at work, fundraising, reaching out to family members – anything and all amounts will go a long way. Budget accurately, too. You don't need to go out every weekend, maybe every other. Instead of coffee every day, maybe twice a week. It's the small things that can help your funds stretch as much as you need them too.
IES Abroad: What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about studying abroad?
SHR: Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Please do it! If I could have stayed a year abroad I would, and if I could go back right now, I would. There's a difference between knowing there's a whole new world out there, and actually going out and becoming a part of that world. You'll face your difficulties, challenges, and maybe you'll become homesick. But when you wake up to the first day in the country you want to go to, walk down the streets and immerse yourself in the culture, you'll find yourself thinking 'I'm so glad I came here'. Your country will always be there when you get back, so you might as well make the journey!
IES Abroad: What one piece of advice would you share to those who are returning home from study abroad?
SHR: I was warned about post-study abroad depression but I didn't think much of it until I came back to my home campus the following semester. I struggled with the adjustment, and I thought throwing myself into work or social life would distract me from missing study abroad. It wasn't helpful at times, and I made myself more stressed and emotional during my return, which made my semester back even harder to adjust to.
Please take care of yourself (when you come home and while you’re abroad). Naps, tea, coffee, binge-watch movies on Netflix, pet a cat – whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, please do it.
Have a question for a student who’s already studied abroad? IES Abroad Ambassadors are here to help. Find an IES Abroad Ambassador and reach out with any questions you might have!