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Study Abroad Myth: You can’t study abroad your last semester of college. 

Reality: Patrick, a Fall 2013 CEA Prague study abroad alum and Associate Alumni Ambassador, shares how he ended his undergraduate career in Prague learning more about himself and more about his political science focus.

Patrick Gradus is a recent grad from St. Norbert College
and an Associate Alumni Ambassador (Prague Fall '13).
CEA: Why did you choose to study abroad?

Patrick: I always knew it was something I wanted to do - living and studying in a foreign country has never been as easy and accessible as it is today. I also double majored in International Studies and Political Science, so I was required to choose an area of focus and study in that region.

CEA: How have you changed because of your abroad experience? 

Patrick: It is impossible to go abroad and not come back a changed person. The experience overseas was the first time away from my family, and it allowed me to assert myself independently.

CEA: What classes did you find useful or applicable to your field of study or career interest?

Patrick: The political science classes were extremely helpful and informative to Czech political history and integration within the European Union. I found that the art classes I took forced a different approach to learning about the political development of a nation. Never taking an art class in college, I was not sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was interesting to see how approachable political history became through an artistic lens. Art and architecture are the physical manifestations of a society's value system. Lectures on architectural design as a symbol of royal wealth and power provided a different vantage point to source material. Plus, standing in front a Prague castle and looking at the Bohemian kingdom on a map are very different things.

CEA: How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?

Patrick: Study abroad was my final undergraduate semester and reinforced my focus for a career involving international affairs.
Patrick Gradus (left) with brother, Mike (right) in Prague.

CEA: How has the ambassador experience helped you when you returned and with your future career goals?

Patrick: One of the best decisions I’ve made since returning home was applying to the Ambassador program. It has helped encourage professional writing and accountability, while allowing me an opportunity to connect with people who loved study abroad as well.

Patrick Gradus presenting at St. Norbert College.
CEA: In your opinion, why don’t more male students study abroad?

Patrick: There are a number of reasons why more male students choose to not study abroad. Financial, pragmatic, social, even professional reasons are among the first that come to mind. Financial reasons are understandable—student loan debt is rising and adding to the load is a natural deterrent. However, never before in human history have opportunities for international education been this cost effective.
Patrick Gradus (center in blue) with his Czech
junior football team.

CEA: Why do you think it’s important for male students/all students to study abroad?

Patrick: I think that international education is extremely important in the development of young professionals. Men and women can both benefit from study abroad opportunities. However, there is a growing trend of fewer men taking advantage of study abroad than women. Men, close the gap and study abroad!

CEA: If you could give any piece of advice to other male students considering study abroad, what would it be?

1. Do not miss the forest for the trees. Explore your own city and learn what your home country has to offer.
2. Volunteer. Leave a longer lasting impact with the people in your host city.
3. Go!

Patrick Gradus is a CEA Associate Alumni Ambassador and a recent graduate from St. Norbert College. Patrick studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, during the Fall 2013 semester.

Here’s the scenario: You decide to study abroad, it’s a whirlwind of excitement planning it, the big departure day arrives and it feels like the next day you’re back home. Now what? 

By studying abroad with CEA, you have the opportunity to take your study abroad journey even further. How? Be a MOJO Blogger or Photographer program during your time abroad, and then join the CEA Alumni Ambassador after you return home. While students join these programs for a variety of reasons, the bottom line is that both programs can be an extension and expansion of your study abroad journey—why stop now? 

Want to Share Your Study Abroad Memories?
(Photos From Past MOJO Participants.)

5 Reasons to be a CEA MOJO Blogger or Photographer:

  • Real documentation of your study abroad experience. We’ve all been there: travel journals that go untouched, camera equipment that lives in its box, blog posts that start out with, “I know it’s been a while…” The CEA MOJO Blogger & Photographer programs means you’ll already have a full recap of your time abroad!

  • Build your portfolio. Both MOJO programs include your work being published on CEA’s blog and across our social media sites. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, photographer, or consider either a hobby, this is a great way to showcase your work!

  • Take your journey further. You’re in for an amazing study abroad experience. The MOJO program allows you to take that one step further and look at your study abroad experience through a different lens (literally!). As a MOJO Blogger, maybe you’ll get to know more about the local nonprofit a fellow study abroad student interns with. Or, maybe you’ll get off the beaten track to take photos of a local festival you wouldn’t have noticed. The opportunities to take your study abroad experience one step further are endless!

  • Round out your resume. What inspired your blog post? How did you put a creative spin on a blog or photography assignment? Your time as a CEA MOJO means real-world career skills after you come home from study abroad.

  • Your semester spent completing all requirements as a MOJO Blogger or Photographer = an iPad or $500!

All Fall 2014 CEA study abroad students are eligible to apply. Check out the full program details and apply by Friday, July 25!  

5 Reasons to be a CEA Alumni Ambassador:

  • Share your journey. You had an amazing time studying abroad, you have tips to share with other students, and you want to help spread study abroad awareness. And that’s exactly what CEA Alumni Ambassadors do!

  • Build your resume. Graduation is around the corner—is your resume ready? CEA’s Alumni Ambassador program could be just what your resume needs to stand out.

  • Love interacting on campus or online? CEA’s Alumni Ambassador positions can offer a combination of these activities. Whether you’re finding creative ways to reach out to students at your school’s study abroad fair, or posting your adventures on Instagram, you’ll have the opportunity to mingle with other students.

  • Beef up your post-grad skills. Leadership? Check! Communication? Yup! Thinking outside the box? Definitely! Have all of those skills, plus more, ready for wherever your post-study abroad career takes you.

  • Join another study abroad family. Think the friends you made while studying abroad were the end of your new connections? As a CEA Alumni Ambassador, you’ll get to connect with other Alumni Ambassadors from across the U.S., plus CEA team members.

All former CEA study abroad students are eligible to apply. Check out the full program details and apply by Tuesday, July 22

Share all of Your Favorite Study Abroad Moments as
an Alumni Ambassador or MOJO!