Meet Katelyn Kiner, our February 2017 IES Abroad Ambassador of the Month! Katelyn is a senior at Hope College double majoring in History and French. She studied abroad on the Paris – French Studies Program during the 2015-16 academic year. Some of her fondest memories from Paris include exploring the city and countryside on her rickety green bike, and volunteering for the Euro Cup.
Read on for Katelyn’s tips on finding study abroad scholarships, living like a local student, and easing the transition home after time abroad.
IES Abroad: What advice do you have for other students on funding their study abroad experiences?
Katelyn Kiner: First, apply for as many study abroad scholarships as you can. IES Abroad has some really great scholarships, and your school might offer some, as well. Also, if you are a member of any societies – academic or otherwise – these are good places to look. It's best to apply for a variety!
Second, start saving money the moment you decide to study abroad. Simple things like cutting down on eating out or coffee can save a good chunk of change. It can be hard at times, but I promise a sipping a coffee at a Parisian cafe is 1,000 times better than at your favorite coffee shop on campus.
IES Abroad: What tips would you give students to help them make their host country feel like home?
KK: Make it a habit to frequent local grocery stores or cafes. Very quickly the workers will recognize you, and soon enough treat you as a regular, greeting you by name, and asking if you want your usual drink or produce. It's a great way to make a big city feel like a smaller place. During my time in Paris, I got to know the guys working at this little corner grocer. Every morning on my walk to the Metro for school, they would see me and call out, “Salut Katie!” It was always a good start to the morning, and really helped me feel like Paris was home.
IES Abroad: Share a life-changing moment in your study abroad experience.
KK: I'm a huge history nerd. When I found out about a conference at Versailles on the end of Louis XIV's reign, I immediately signed up. It was an exhausting two days of back to back lectures (in French, of course), but it was so worth it. I got to meet many French and American Louis XIV/Regency scholars, which helped in discerning what I want to do after school. I also got to meet the head of the research institute at Versailles, and take an after-hours tour with the curator of the temporary exhibit. It was so interesting to hear about why the curator chose and arranged certain artifacts. Experiences like these remind me of the amazing opportunities that study abroad offers.
IES Abroad: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before studying abroad, what would it be?
KK: Relax. Don't be so worried about making language or cultural mistakes. In fact, make those mistakes early. At least if you make them early, you can learn from them. Then you’ll spend the rest of your time more at ease!
IES Abroad: What one piece of advice would you share to those who are returning home from study abroad?
KK: Give yourself time to feel whatever you're feeling. Often, it's happiness at being back in a familiar place with people you love. Sometimes, it’s tinged with the sorrow of leaving this place you have grown to love, and people with whom you have just shared this unforgettable experience. Whatever it is, it's okay, but it’s better not to bottle it up.
Also, a tip for before you return home: Make sure to save some stories of your time abroad, so that you have some new ones to share once you are home!
Thank you, Katelyn!
Are you feeling inspired to study abroad? Find the best place to study abroad for you based on your interests, hobbies, and more.