Study Abroad Advice from Ambassador Ellen Kim: Why Study Abroad Is the Best Decision You’ll Make, So Don’t Wait!

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Abby Baric
October 28, 2016

We’re happy to introduce Ellen Kim, a senior at University of Rochester, as our October 2016 Ambassador of the Month! Ellen shares both how much study abroad means to her and overcoming the challenge of reintegrating while staying connected to the experience once home again.
Ellen majors in Public Health and studied on the IES Abroad London - Health Practice and Policy Program in Fall 2015.


IES Abroad: What inspired you to study abroad?  

EK: Before I studied abroad, I went on two service trips to Honduras, which furthered my passion for community service and inspired me to see more of the world.

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

EK: Study abroad is an experience that is humbling, fulfilling, empowering, enriching, and transformative all at once. Being away from all your friends and family in a foreign country can be daunting, but it will teach you about your own potential as you are challenged to engage in cross-cultural dialogue, make personal decisions, and create meaningful connections with people from all over the world. If you’re hesitant about studying abroad, I can assure you that this will be one of the best—if not the best—decision you will make in your life.

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

EK: Returning from the life-changing adventures you’ve experienced while studying abroad is a challenge on its own. While you may be excited to share stories about your travels and life abroad, you may find the responses of those who listen to be underwhelming—and this is completely okay. In fact, you will find that it is difficult to translate all the enlightening conversations you’ve had with your peers, the personal growth you felt, and the memories that you made into a mere handful of sentences. Nevertheless, don’t be discouraged and instead find other ways to share your experiences, such as by posting photos online, encouraging other fellow students to study abroad, or even volunteering as an IES Abroad Ambassador or with your school’s study abroad office!

IES Abroad: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before studying abroad, what would it be? 

EK: It would be that I should join the program during my sophomore year instead of my junior year so that I could study abroad at a different location during my senior year in college! I genuinely miss both the fun and challenging aspects of study abroad, and I only wish I could go through the experience all over again.
Congratulations, Ellen!
The IES Abroad Ambassador Program connects our future students with our past students. If you’re interested in learning more about our Ambassador Program or have a question for a past IES Abroad student, visit our IES Abroad Ambassadors page.
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Abby Baric

Director of Communications & Outreach

For more information about IES Abroad, our programs, or to arrange an interview with our study abroad experts, see contact below. • 312.261.5032

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