Prioritizing In-Country Travel: Ambassador of the Month Alex Hughes

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Victoria Bruick
October 24, 2017

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We’re excited to present Alex Hughes, our October 2017 Ambassador of the Month! Alex encourages students to truly explore the place they’re living instead of checking off boxes, and shares how meeting a fellow hiker changed his priorities in life.

Alex is a senior at Bentley University this year and a candidate for two degrees, one in Marketing and another in Global Perspectives. He studied on the IES Abroad Buenos Aires - Latin American Societies & Cultures program in Spring 2016. He has always loved music and concerts, but studying abroad brought out his passion for seeing the world. Alex hasn't stopped traveling since he returned home, and he hopes to work in Europe someday!


IES Abroad: What advice do you have for other students on funding their study abroad experience?

Alex Hughes (AH): Don't forget about study abroad scholarships. I didn't take enough advantage of this before leaving, but I know people, both in and out of my program, who covered nearly all of their costs simply by applying for grants and scholarships.  There is a lot of money available out there; you just have to find it!

IES Abroad: What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about studying abroad?

AH: Just DO IT!  It can be scary and new, but there's no better way to experience life and understand a culture than immersing yourself.  Just thinking about going abroad in the first place is a great step, but going will help you gain experiences that you didn't even know you could have.  I honestly believe going abroad was one of the best choices I've ever made, and I've come home with amazing memories, friends, and experiences that I couldn't replace if I wanted to.

IES Abroad: What tips would you give a student to help them make their host country home?

AH: Learn your city. I would never discourage anyone from travelling out of their host country, but it's an amazing feeling to know you could show anyone who came to visit you around.  Don't worry about your country-count or how many people you can visit. That will come. (Plus, you can always go back!)  Explore the nooks and crannies of your city; find that dive bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant, listen to live music at a pub, go dancing, enjoy some cultural festivals, meet locals, and the list goes on!  You're in this city for a short four months, so really explore it and see as much as you can, and that doesn't just go for the big landmarks either!  Every city has a list of amazing sights and things to do that aren't necessarily bucket list contenders, but are certainly worth the trip.  Find them!

IES Abroad: Did you have any specific moments in your study abroad experience that stick out to you as life-changing?

AH: In my final week of studying abroad, I spent six days in Salta and Jujuy, Argentina, up in the Andes.  I was hiking solo and met another hiker on the mountain. He and I got to talking and ended up hiking for hours together that day.  He was eight years older than me and had recently quit his rather exceptional job in France and was now backpacking through South America.  Long story short, after spending probably six or seven hours together, I saw that even after quitting a job and not knowing where he would end up when he got back to France, he was truly happy.  He helped me realize that there is so much more to happiness than money, possessions, and titles, and I continue to live by that to this day. 

IES Abroad: What one piece of advice would you share to those who are returning home from study abroad?

AH: Don't fall back into routine.  If you feel like studying abroad changed you, then GOOD, it probably did!  Don't feel as if you need to assimilate back to the community you left, you are a new person now with new experiences and appreciations for the world.  Continue to live the life you are building for yourself and continue to pursue your passions.

IES Abroad: Do you want to leave us with any last words of advice?

AH: Studying abroad is one of the best opportunities in college and is truly a blessing if you're able to make it happen.  What's most important though, is studying abroad doesn't have to be the end of your traveling if you don't want it to be.  If you really want to make it happen, you can travel all over the world, you just need to find out the best way for you to do it.

Thanks, Alex!

Have any more questions about what it's like to study abroad? Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador. Who is that exactly? They're recent IES Abroad alums who have a lot of study abroad expertise, and are here to help answer your questions. 

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Victoria Bruick

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