Study abroad is not just for the well-traveled student or for the International Studies major. Take it from our 2020 IES Abroad Ambassadors of the Year, Emily Peterson (Vienna—Spring 2018 | University of North Texas) who fearlessly launched herself abroad after growing up in a Texas suburb, and Macy Putman (Sydney—Spring 2018 | Penn State University), who pushed past stereotypes about which majors can study abroad.
Emily and Macy were selected as our 2020 IES Abroad Ambassadors of the Year for going the extra mile to engage and excite students on their campuses about study abroad.
Hear their stories and motivations to make study abroad a reality for future students:
Emily Peterson (She/Her/Her) | IES Abroad Vienna | University of North Texas
"Before my experience in Vienna, I was very sheltered. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas and lived there my whole life. I grew up with all the same kids who were all raised just like me in the same suburbs. I knew a little about the world outside my little bubble, I travelled quite a bit within the states as a child with my family. I knew there was more out there, I just wasn’t quite aware of exactly how much."
Emily, a Hospitality Management major and alumnus of the IES Abroad Vienna - European Society & Culture Program, first caught the travel bug during a three-week trip around Europe with her family. After that she was stuck on the idea of study abroad, and knew the opportunity to immerse herself abroad for four months could only happen during college.
Emily's journey abroad focused heavily on mastering the German language—an admirable challenge, and when reflecting on her time abroad and adjusting to a new academic setting, she shares, “I took some of my hardest midterms and finals in Vienna, but I also learned the most from them. My professors taught me about the Austrian government, the different parties, and how that affects the entirety of Europe even though Austria is such a small country. I got to learn about world-renowned architects and see their work in person displayed around the city. I could not believe I was so lucky to be somewhere so full of history, art, architecture, psychology, and music all in one place.”
With a rigorous and fulfulling semester under her belt, Emily took her experience back to her home campus. As an Ambassador she assisted at the University of North Texas' Study Abroad Fair, attended several tabling sessions, and shared her abroad story on a panel with other study abroad alumni. Through additional email communication, writing prompts, and social media activations, Emily was "able to give [students] a realistic idea of what to expect from the process and from their program while encouraging them to take the challenge".
“Studying abroad for me changed my life. I grew in ways I didn’t know I could and learned things I did not know I needed to learn before."
Macy Putman (She/Her/Hers) | IES Abroad Sydney | Penn State University
"I believe studying abroad allowed me to shape both my personal and interpersonal skills and make me a more well-rounded person. I faced challenges, which caused me to adapt and problem solve in an unfamiliar setting, and for that reason I became a stronger person both mentally and emotionally."
An alum of the IES Abroad Direct Enrollment - University of Sydney program, Macy was an outstanding Ambassador and support to prospective students, especially those in STEM majors, who often think they can't fit study abroad into their four-year plan. Macy, who graduated early while pursuing a Biology major, spoke so often and fervently about study abroad that two of her three roommates and seven of her coworkers ended up studying abroad!
In light of their experience abroad, Macy shares, “I quite literally learned about the world of pre-medicine in two different countries, and I studied abroad, which surpassed all of my expectations. I fell in love with traveling after I had the opportunity to study abroad and plan to continue to make it a priority for the rest of my life because I truly believe that the world is our classroom and we learn the most from our experiences.”
As an IES Abroad Ambassador, Macy's excitement for study abroad shined through her work with prospective students. Highlights of her work as an Ambassador include several workshops, with topics ranging from preparing to go to Sydney to helping students market their study abroad experience upon return. Macy also went the extra mile to meet students in a variety of ways: speaking at freshman floor meetings, presenting on panels, organizing one-on-one sessions, and through email outreach and class visits specifically targeting STEM students like herself, who often don't think study abroad can fit into their college plans.
Macy received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Penn State and is currently interviewing for graduate school to obtain her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. Her plan is to work in Emergency Medicine and Trauma Surgery as a certified Physician Assistant.
"Sharing my abroad experience and seeing other people go on these journeys of a lifetime has been nothing short of remarkable."
Congratulations Emily and Macy and thanking you for sharing your love of study abroad with so many others!
Our IES Abroad Ambassadors are here to help. Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador to learn more about a program or a location.