To expand my perspective and learn from experience and to take a fun break from school, I took the advantage of the opportunity to study abroad twice during my time as an undergraduate at Ohio University. My sophomore year, I participated in a Global Public Health Program in Costa Rica and my senior year I participated in a service project in Jamaica.
These two trips motivated me to view my life and career more creatively, examine my purpose and think about what difference I really want to make in the world. The pieces didn’t come together all at once, but the conversations I had, everything I experienced and the people I met shifted my perspective.
In Costa Rica, people speak Spanish, so I was ready to practice my skills every chance I got. My most used phrases were:
“Where’s the bathroom?”
“I’ll have chicken, please.” and
“Party on the beach!”
When I chose the program, my major was biological sciences and I planned to become a Physical Therapist. So I thought it was a great opportunity to study health practices in another country. It was interesting, but I didn’t really enjoy learning about it as much as I hoped I would.
Back story: My freshman year, I took the intro biological sciences class and failed literally every exam! I decided to drop the class, to avoid getting an F on my transcript. I thought, “Hey, quit while you’re ahead!”
My experience in Costa Rica was so much fun! This was my first time flying in an airplane so I was super excited about that! I got to leave the country! We stayed at a hotel in the capital city San Jose, we also stayed on an island for a few nights where we slept in cool tents and celebrated the New Year. The island was my favorite, we travelled by boat to get everywhere we went. How cool is that!
We participated in some exciting excursions as well, snorkeling in the ocean, visiting a rainforest, zip lining through a forest, dinner at a restaurant on the top of a mountain, hiking through a mountain trail, flying in a mini airplane over the beautiful waters and mountains, it was such nice experience.
While staying on the island, a woman who was on vacation told our group about what she did for a living. She was from England and she got her Masters degree in Education and she travelled around the world teaching. She told us she genuinely loved traveling and teaching, so she created a way to make a career out of her passions. This sounded so fun and interesting to me and I asked more about her career journey, her future goals and plans and why she was doing it all.
My interest was peaked after hearing about how she earned her living traveling around the world, teaching, building relationships, learning and helping people. This was in 2013, when I knew very little about entrepreneurship and starting a business. I thought “That’s beautiful, I need to do something I genuinely love doing too.” So I switched my major to Communication Studies to pursue a career in marketing and public relations because it would be fun and I could be creative and I’d be able work in any industry, because everyone needs marketing and PR.
However, now that I am a lot further along in my career than I was in 2013, I am honing in on the career that best fits my skill set and personality. I am passionate about seeing families thrive and bypass the barriers of work and bills and experience the mindset shift that empowers them to pursue their true dreams. So my goal is to create tools and stepping stones, in the form of personal and professional development workshops and housing programs, to help people live out their full potential and accomplish their goals.
Moral of the story, my studying abroad experience was life changing! Studying abroad was a great way to take a creative vacation for winter break that was beneficial for my career and I earned class credit hours by doing it! It helped me think about my career path and determine what I really want to do and I had so much fun.
I encourage every college student to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Seek out scholarship resources, talk to family and friends as well as faculty and staff to get funding! Do what is necessary to experience the world through a study abroad program that will help you earn credit towards earning your degree.