Meet Collin Thomas, our November 2017 Ambassador of the Month! Collin, a Spring 2017 alumnus of the IES Abroad Santiago – Politics, Social Justice & Language Program, studies Spanish at Hope College where he hopes to pursue a career in Global Health. Read on to learn about Collin’s tips on making a study abroad experience worthwhile:
IES Abroad: How did you meet locals while studying abroad in Chile?
Collin Thomas (CT): I met a lot of the locals through my host family. Every Friday, I would go to my host mom’s work and work with her. She would often have clients over and we would talk over coffee and cookies. She taught me how to do ‘cross-point’ and I ended up making a pillow for my real mom. My host brother was really into CrossFit, and he would take me with him three times a week. It was cool seeing how a different country approaches fitness.
IES Abroad: What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about studying abroad?
CT: You aren’t going to have an opportunity like this later in life. You have five months to spend in another country as a student. You aren’t a tourist. You get to live alongside the locals and immerse yourself in their culture. I don’t think anything else could have helped my language ability as much as studying abroad.
IES Abroad: What tips would you give a student to help them make their host country home?
CT: Get out of your comfort zone. There are a lot of opportunities abroad, and you can’t find them while you watch Netflix in your room. The best way to make the most of your time abroad is to push yourself. Get to know wherever you are. I took what I enjoyed doing at home, which is athletics, and tried to find the Chilean version of it. I ended up having a great experience working out with Chileans, and I now know a lot of Spanish workout vocabulary.
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!