A Life of Adventure
CEA Port Elizabeth Spring ’13 Alum
& current Alumni Ambassador
Today we’re kicking off our male CEA Alumni Ambassadors in Study Abroad series with David Sperling, CEA Port Elizabeth Spring ’13 alum, and student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Even if you only catch his photos, there’s no question that David’s experience studying abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was full of adventures! Plus, he shares how his South Africa study abroad experience has impacted his life after study abroad.
CEA: Why did you choose to study abroad?
David: I know my career will involve international commerce. I think it’s important to realize that everyone must think on a global scale these days if you want to move forward. I wanted international experience for my resume and so I would be more prepared for my future.
CEA: What skills did you learn or improve on during your time abroad?
David: My time abroad helped me become more independent. I learned to trust myself and stick to my instincts. I also learned how to go with the flow. A lot of times, you can’t change a situation by freaking out, so it’s important to know when to stress. My time abroad taught me these skills and more! I have also become more open to change in my life and welcome new experiences. I also gained a diverse group of friends from around the world who I can visit and experience their hometowns.
CEA: How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?
David: My time in South Africa opened many doors for me. In every interview I have had since studying abroad, they asked about my experience. Now, instead of being grilled on the technical skills needed for a job, I get to talk about the best time of my life. Employers know that I am serious about wanting to work internationally and they can trust me because of my past experience.
CEA: How has the CEA Alumni Ambassador experience helped you since you returned and with your future career goals?
David: The ambassador program has been a great way to spread the word about study abroad at my school. I work with the Office of International Education on presentations and study abroad fairs but the ambassador program has helped me come up with more creative ideas.
CEA: Why do you think it’s important for male students/all students to study abroad?
David: No matter gender, it’s important to study abroad. Once college is over, life starts moving faster. Sometimes it’s hard to fit travel into that schedule. When else can you live in another country for a long period of time and completely immerse yourself in the culture without having to worry about multiple obligations back home? You don’t know what you are missing out on until you go!
CEA: In your opinion, why don’t more male students study abroad?
David: I think men sometimes forget that there is more to life than school. Study abroad allowed me to become more comfortable at my school because I knew what else was out there. It opened up an ocean full of possibilities.
CEA: What are 3 study abroad myths you can debunk for other male students considering study abroad?
1. Study abroad costs too much
It will most likely be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Exchange programs and host families can lower the costs. There are also scholarships and financial aid. I got a scholarship from my school for studying abroad that helped offset the costs.
2. You have to speak another language to study abroad
I know a little bit of French which did not help me much in South Africa. There are 11 official languages in South Africa and I only knew one, English. All of my classes were in English and I picked up a phrase or two in a few other languages while I was abroad.
3. Studying abroad will postpone my graduation
All of my credits transferred back to help me complete my business minor. I made sure my credit would count for something before I left and I had no problems making adjustments once I was abroad. Talk with your advisors and everything will work out.
David Sperling is a veteran CEA Alumni Ambassador and a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He studied abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, during the Spring 2013 semester.