Shaping Your Future While Studying Abroad

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As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, CEA is gathering two decades worth of interviews and insights from alumni. We talked with former CEA students to learn how studying abroad with CEA changed their lives and prepared them for their futures.

In June 2012, Emily Winograd studied abroad with CEA in the Aix-en-Provence in France while studying Biology and French at Wayne State University. She believes her experiences with CEA helped her thrive in her current career.

Emily: I work as a pharmacist and I am currently pursuing advanced training in clinical toxicology. Studying abroad has made it easier for me to approach unfamiliar situations (like moving 1000 miles away from home for a toxicology fellowship!) with confidence. The insights I gained through my CEA program continue to help me provide culturally competent care to my patients. The three greatest skills I sharpened (besides language skills) during my time abroad were adaptability, patience, and my ability to face the unknown with confidence. All of these qualities were useful as I pursued my Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and even more so now that I am a practicing pharmacist.

As for Emily’s favorite memory while she was overseas? Well, there are too many for her to count!

Emily: It’s impossible to choose one favorite memory from my CEA study abroad program; the entire experience was a dream come true. That said, the organized excursions to various interesting locales around the region were definite highlights of my time in France. From visiting lavender fields and a goat farm, to exploring Monaco and Marseille, these weekend trips added another layer of cultural richness to an already fulfilling travel experience. I can’t recommend this program highly enough!

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Emily’s weekend excursion to Cassis.

On the opposite half of the world, Meredith McDermott studied Environmental Biology in Australia in 2000 and it not only helped her current career, but impacted her so much that she stayed two years!

Meredith: I work in a direct intersection of science and education, leading the largest K-12 public school system in the country towards greater sustainability and environmental stewardship. I am an avid lover of nature, particularly the ocean, which is what originally drove me to Australia. I studied the intriguing landscapes, flora, fauna, and ecosystems and this laid the foundation for my career. My interests were fostered and expanded upon while I also gained a global perspective on cultures as well. In fact, I continued on past my atypically long (2 years!) undergraduate stint in Melbourne to attend graduate school in Brisbane. Best decisions I’ve ever made and just had a reunion with my Aussie friends last year! The best adventure of my life that led to so many other adventures!

While alumni Hannah Clay had hands-on life planning experience when she studied Environmental Sciences at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth during Summer 2013.

Hannah: CEA did a good job of preparing me for the independent travel and including me in a program where this opportunity was available. I loved the days that were not structured, which I was hesitant about in the beginning. I would be traveling alone to a foreign country for the first time. During this experience I felt completely supported and that I was consistently in a safe environment. We were also given the freedom to create our own schedules on the weekends where I was able to learn to navigate and control my settings independently through the program.  This was a great way for me to experience the city with my fellow students.

With a little help from CEA, she was even able to practice her emergency planning skills!

Hannah: The biggest struggle that I faced was that the airline lost my luggage! This was my greatest fear while traveling and I was without my checked suitcase for 6 days. CEA contacted my school directly and they actually planned a trip for our entire group to go shopping. During this trip I was able to purchase every item that I needed for the upcoming days and I enjoyed very much spending this time with the other people that were on the trip. I still treasure some of the items that I bought during that shopping trip!

Some CEA alumni like Ciera Harris, who studied in Costa Rica in Spring 2007 while earning her International Business degree from Westminster College, have used their CEA experience to thrive socially as well.

Ciera: I am currently living in South Texas, but have lived in Southern California, Virginia, the panhandle of Florida, the mountains of North Carolina, and my hometown in Missouri. I am a military spouse, have moved a lot, have had to adapt often and make new friends wherever we go. Studying abroad helped me to expand my horizons by experiencing a new place and making friends I wouldn’t have otherwise made, some of which are my best friends and whom I still communicate with. I learned to be independent, to embrace new places and things, and to always be open to change.

 Expand your Horizons with CEA next semester.

Judson Tomaiko is the Communications Intern at CEA Study Abroad. He studied Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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