Study Abroad Advice from Ambassador Mariana Breña: How Study Abroad Changed Her Life & How to Make Your Host Country Home

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Kiah Zellner-Smith
July 5, 2016

Mariana Breña, our June 2016 Ambassador of the Month, shares her advice on all things study abroad: before, during, and after her experience!

Mariana participated in the IES Abroad Galapagos Islands Direct Enrollment GAIAS Program in Spring 2015 and has been doing great work helping to spread the word about study abroad on her campus ever since. Mariana just graduated from Wellesley College in May with a degree in Biological Sciences. While she was there, she ran on the Cross Country and Track teams and served as a Spanish tutor.

IES Abroad: Share a life-changing moment in your study abroad experience.

MB: It was amazing to be able to see all of these animals that I'd heard of or seen in pictures in real life. I'll never forget the feeling of snorkeling just above a hammerhead shark or swimming so close to sea lions.

IES Abroad: What have you gained from being an IES Abroad Ambassador?

MB: It's been great to be able to share my experience with other people who are interested in the same program that I did. It lets me give people advice that I wish I had, like what to pack or what to expect from classes.

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

MB: I would tell them that it is a life-changing experience, no matter what happens. If you choose your program carefully, you'll meet some really amazing people both from the United States and in other countries that you have a lot in common with. I've never heard anyone regret studying abroad but I have heard people regret staying home.

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

MB: Spend as much time with the locals as possible. Ask them their favorite places to eat, hang out, what they do for fun, etc. It's easy to fall into just spending time with other American students but the best way to get to know a country is to get to know its people too.

Thanks, Mariana!

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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Kiah Zellner-Smith

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