Resiliency as a Post Study Abroad Skill

Two hands stretching spring.Stretched spring. Resistance and opposition metaphor.

Be resilient – Bounce back

With study abroad on the rise and pressure for recent graduates to kick off a dynamic career in their chosen field (and avoid a lengthy stay living at home and working as a barista!), there is much talk in the media and international education circles about what skills are derived from an education abroad experience. We often hear about skills gained in the areas of linguistic ability (of varying degrees), observation and agility. On a recent Cultural Career Cohort discussion with Jamie Gelbtuch, Founder of Cultural Mixology, the concept of “resiliency” came up as an important and valid skill for those who have a study abroad experience. I was intrigued.

According to The Resiliency Center, resiliency can be defined as “Able to recover quickly from misfortune, able to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched out of shape. A human ability to recover quickly from disruptive change or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.”

Jamie mentioned this center to explore resiliency and suggested that we take the quiz, so I did. I scored an 82 (“very resilient”) and upon reading the description, realized how much my experiences abroad have impacted how I approach life and work. Those moments of being uncomfortable, trying to learn new words in a completely new language, getting lost, having my breath taken away by new experiences – they all synthesized into skill building of the highest order.

Here is some of what the quiz informed me about my own resiliency. The interpretation of the score I received includes many characteristics, but these are the unique behaviors that I think most speak to qualities that can be directly related to the power of academic travel. I can easily imagine them being utilized in an interview setting. I took the liberty of providing an overarching heading for each point:

  • Diplomacy: Express feelings honestly. Experience can express anger, love, dislike, appreciation, grief–the entire range of human emotions honestly and openly. Can also choose to suppress their feelings when they believe it would be best to do so.
  • Curious and Risk Taking: Playful, childlike curiosity.Ask lots of questions, want to know how things work. Play with new developments. Enjoy themselves as children do. Have a good time almost anywhere. Wonder about things, experiment, make mistakes, get hurt, laugh. Ask: “What is different now? What if I did this? Who can answer my questions? What is funny about this?”
  • Lifelong Learner and the Ability to Reflect: Constantly learn from experience.Rapidly assimilate new or unexpected experiences and facilitate being changed by them. Ask “What is the lesson here? What early clues did I ignore? The next time that happens I will….”
  • Positive: Expects things to work out well.Deep optimism guided by internal values and standards. High tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. Can work without a job description, is a good role model of professionalism. Has a synergistic effect, brings stability to crises and chaos. Ask “How can I interact with this so that things turn out well for all of us?”
  • Solution Oriented: Read others with empathy.See things through the perspectives of others, even antagonists. Win/win/win attitude in conflicts. Ask “What do others think and feel? What is it like to be them? How do they experience me? What is legitimate about what they feel, say, and do?”
  • Always Improving: Gets better and better every decade.Become increasingly life competent, resilient, durable, playful, and free. Spend less time surviving than others and survive major adversities better. Enjoy life more and more.

Imagine your students being able to speak to these skills in an interview instead of sharing the typical language around “deals well with ambiguity” or being “highly adaptable.” Taking the quiz and linking the skills back to specific experiences will help study abroad alumni understand how resilient they are and will certainly provide new language to differentiate themselves from the applicant pool.

Having students write in their personal journals about challenging times upon their return home is also a way to explore resiliency. For example, students charged with putting themselves in new and uncomfortable situations back at home (for example, taking a bus to a part of their town with its own subculture that they have not explored before) is one way to affordably open up the door of discomfort. Getting lost, observing, and engaging appropriately in an unfamiliar environment allow for practice of various resilient qualities. Writing as an intentional journal activity to consider more deep reflection on such an activity helps a student to hone in on articulating these fresh skills further. Journal prompts could include:

  • What did you observe?
  • What feelings surfaced for you as you embarked in this new community?
  • How did this experience remind you of your time abroad?
  • How did you succeed in this situation? How did you fail?
  • What could you have done differently, upon reflection?
  • What resilient qualities did you utilize in this new experience?
  • How did these qualities help you to engage and reflect?

Visual learners can be prompted to take a photo of their domestic sojourn as a jumping off point to illustrate and describe the experience and can use the same set of thoughtful journaling prompts.

For the career and education abroad advisors out there, what ideas do you have to gently adjust your re-entry programming to explore the concept of resiliency? Share your thoughts in the comments below so that we can share ideas!

 

Missy Gluckmann

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing toolsspeakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

 

How Teaching English in Foreign Countries Expands Your Horizons

 

teacherIf you would like to experience life outside your comfort zone and enhance the lives of others as you meet challenges head on, teaching English in foreign countries can be the catalyst that expands your horizons and renews your commitment to making the world a more interesting place. Once school is over and you decide that you would like to make a difference in the world you should consider teaching English in a location where you can truly make a difference. Let’s take a look at how working to teach people in foreign countries English as a foreign language can help you to grow and develop as a person.

Teaching English in Foreign Countries Allows You to Travel

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigtialPhotos.net

If you enjoy experiencing travel, eating new foods, enjoying different cultures, and having life experiences that are second to none, teaching in a foreign country can be just the solution that you need to stretch you beyond your current growth. With the money that you earn from your teaching job you can also travel around the country to visit the major attractions and engage in activities that are offered in this location.

Expand Your Personal Growth by Teaching English in Foreign Countries

When you decide to leave your comfortable and familiar surroundings you can use the opportunity to redefine who you are and the beliefs that you hold dear. Working with children of any age or corporations which have a strong desire to learn English as a foreign language can help you to determine where you’ve been in your life and the path that you want to take from this point forward. Enabling corporate executives to use their own wisdom instead of using translation software which isn’t always reliable will provide you with a level of satisfaction that is rewarding in itself. You’ll be able to focus more on the things that really matter to you, to read more about things that interest you, and to concentrate on your own personal growth and development.

Make a Difference in the Lives of Others by Teaching English in Foreign Countries

3people graphic

Image courtesy of images/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As you help others acquire English proficiency and reach some of their personal goals you will feel a tremendous satisfaction; by enabling others to get what they want you make a difference in their lives that directly impacts your own life. You will be a positive force in the lives of your students so be sure to accept this responsibility with a commitment to excellence and integrity. Making a difference after your TEFL Academy training will demonstrate to you the value of taking this step toward helping others in a life-changing manner.

By Teaching English in Foreign Countries You Can Follow Your Dreams

Do you dream of visiting foreign lands and seeing those attractions that you once viewed in your school books as a child? Do you think there is more to life than assuming a role and staying in once place forever? Following your dreams is a simple accomplishment if you take a job teaching English in a foreign country. You can spend your leisure time exploring the countryside, enjoying the cuisine, and learning about the culture of the land.

It’s never too late to expand your horizons; taking that first step toward learning new skills and talents for teaching English abroad will be one that you come to think you should have made months ago.

 

Guest Plog Post from: Suzi McKee

Suzi McKee is an honor graduate of the University of Maine and has spent the last 43 years both teaching English on the secondary level and supervising the English as a Second Language for her public school system in Tennessee. For the last five years, Suzi has also worked as an Independent Journalist for companies around the globe writing blogs as well as content and marketing pieces. In her spare time, Suzi enjoys riding with her husband on their Harley-Davidson through the mountains of East Tennessee and North Carolina.

 

 

The Study Abroad Advantage reaches 2,000 members!

SAA-2,000-MEMBERS

The Study Abroad Advantage is a Linkedin Group designed to help study abroad alumni bring their experiences to the professional market.  Students who have returned from abroad are encouraged to publish a review of their experience abroad and use this to highlight their ability to communicate, to use social media and their new perspective on the world.  In addition to a place to network with other study abroad alumni and alumni group organizers, the Group features postings on career development and advice on how to apply lessons from abroad to the professional world.  Prospective employers are invited to join the group to do some recruiting of the members and promote their firms.

The group hit a milestone last week with the 2,000th member, a student named Alexis Lupton from Brigham Young University.  We asked her to comment on her study abroad experience and she said “I am always willing to embarrass myself a little for the greater good.”  She went on to add more detail about her study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was quite different than most, in that my study abroad was a travelling one instead of in just one city. We also did not have a traditional classroom. Our classrooms included: the UN, the U.S Embassy, Pepsico, UNESCO, and every where in between. My experience really taught me a lot about myself. I learned how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and really try new things. I saw the world from many different perspectives, from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral to the slums of Paris. Sometimes plans change unexpectedly and you just have to go with the flow (like our Morocco trip being cancelled and going to Vienna instead). I gained the independence to be able to do things alone even though it may have seemed a little unnerving, and you too, in the end, truly will not be let down. Overall the world is a fascinating place and my study abroad instilled a desire to always continue exploring. 

Alexis Lupton

Alexis Lupton – Student at Brigham Young University

You can read her full study abroad review here: http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/brigham-young-university-traveling-global-diplomacy-study-abroad/reviews/22303  

If you’d like to connect with Alexis, you’ll find her profile on Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/alexis-lupton/26/107/152 

We invite you to get the study abroad advantage by joining and becoming active in “The Study Abroad Advantage”  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Study-Abroad-Advantage-8159424/about 

Overcoming Employer Skeptisim of Study Abroad

 

Woman gesturing thumbs up in front of corporate personnel office

 

Those of us who work in International Education see the rewards of students returning home from abroad. They are wiser, confident and more mature, and we naturally think that Study Abroad is a great step toward a rewarding career. As a student who has overcome all the obstacles that study abroad might put in your way, I’m sure you would agree that the eye opening experiences, greater independence and self-awareness provide a jump-start in your career. Unfortunately, there are many hiring managers and employers who don’t see it that way.

Study Abroad may not be the secret ticket to getting a jump-start in the career place. Many human resource professionals and hiring managers do not value experiences abroad when making hiring decisions, and while corporate and organizational leaders talk about the global workplace, your study abroad alumni card isn’t your FAST-PASS to the front of the line.

The following two quotes are just a sampling of some of the biases that exist against study abroad:

“People put ‘study abroad’ on their resume. I actually like when they don’t study abroad because that means they aren’t entitled.” – Millard Drexler

Millard “Mickey” S. Drexler is the current chairman and CEO of J.Crew Group and formerly the CEO of Gap Inc. He has been a director at Apple Inc. since 1999.  http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/millarddre532208.html

and

“Studying abroad can be a nice “add on” in theory, but it also can be a waste of time, or simply a good time, for an unfocused – and privileged – high school or university student.” And “And even the best programs will do little for an unmotivated student.” – Curtis S. Chin

Curtis S. Chin, the United States ambassador to the Asian Development Bank from 2007 to 2010, is the managing director of RiverPeak Group, an advisory firm.  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/17/should-more-americans-study-abroad/studying-abroad-can-be-an-expensive-waste-of-time

 

Entitled. Privileged. We also hear that study abroad returnees are viewed as unmanageable, always with a cause, always want to change things and even anti-corporate. These are stereotypes and just like you had stereotypes of the place you visited before you left, you now have a label associated with you. How you handle this label and the associated bias will affect how your career unfolds.

Stress the workplace values when talking about study abroad

Now before you panic and sign up for grad school or an internship program or resolve yourself to teaching English in some remote corner of the world, there is hope. There’s work you need to do, but there’s real hope turning what some perceive as lemons, into lemonade.

Consider the following statements.

“Study abroad doesn’t count to an employer unless the job candidate can say how it has made them a better person, scholar, citizen, and professional…”  – Linda S. Gross, Associate Director of Career Services, Michigan State University

http://chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Help-Students-to/123653/

According to a 2012 survey of employers done by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University (MSU), hiring managers considered study abroad to be of “limited importance” in relation to recruiting new graduates. In fact, study abroad was ranked the least important of several college activities, with internships listed the most valuable activity.

http://www.nafsa.org/_/File/_/ie_mayjun14_edabroad.pdf

 

So how do you highlight your study abroad experience?

Keep this in mind. Employers want creative, independent thinkers who can work in teams, take responsibility and get things done.

Think in professional analogies about your time abroad and how you overcame obstacles and how those prepared you for the workplace. How did you show leadership? How did you take responsibility? How did you pull together disparate people and get them operating as a team? How did you face long odds, overcome poor preparation and lack of support and achieve something notable? What got you out of bed in the AM and got you to avoid the distractions of the social and partying scene?

Do not simply talk about how great it was abroad, what wonderful friends you made and the amazing sites you’ve seen. If that is your focus the following is what an employer could think.

“I’m not interested in your life journeys. This includes your experiences studying abroad, even if you had an amazing time. Save these musings for late night dorm room chats with your best friend.”   By Katherine Goldstein

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/08/ cover_letter_writing_advice_how_to_write_a_cover_letter_for_an_entry_level.html

Instead, translate your experiences abroad into practical examples of how you have matured and can take on responsibility. If going abroad means you can enter into an honest conversation about how to take and offer criticism, then your experience has prepared you well. If you can articulate how lucky you were, how humbling the experience was and how you want to rise to serve, you have a real chance at breaking the privileged student stereotypes that surround study abroad. Hiring a study abroad graduate should give employers the confidence that they will get an employee who is a problem solver, a confident well-spoken team player who will be a loyal asset to the company.

Convey these messages while interviewing and you will now have The Study Abroad Advantage.

Feel free to add your comments below and join our initiative called The Study Abroad Advantage on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

But How Did Study Abroad Help Me In My Career?

Puzzled Confused Lost Signpost Showing Puzzling Problem

Static

When I arrived in Barajas Airport in Madrid, I was greeted by Cristina Blanco, the (fabulous) director of the program. My mouth felt sticky, I was terribly jet-lagged, and still left-over anxious over having had my visa inspected. When I saw Cristina holding the sign that said CIEE (just like the literature said she would be), and wearing a big smile, I was relieved. At least, I was relieved until she said “sshhhrrrrshhsshhrrr.”

This was what castellano sounded like to me.

I smiled emptily at her. “¿Cómo?” I asked.  “What?”

“Sshhhrrrrsshrr,” she repeated kindly, pointing over to a growing group of young people about my age.

Over there. She wanted me to go over there and join the rest of the group. I nodded and moved in the direction she indicated, but I had understood nothing. I was terrified.

It all felt so unfair. I had studied Spanish in school for eight years. I knew words! I knew a lot of words! I listened to Juanes all the time! I liked Pedro Almodóvar films! And instead of feeling confident, the entire world turned into static.

At first I cried a lot. I was exhausted after having a five minute conversation with my host family. I fell asleep watching my English language DVDs every night. But after two weeks or so the static began to clear out. The shhhhrrrrshhhhhh sounds distilled into words that I recognized and could soon use. Two months in, I was able to joke with my host family, and on the airplane home I was able to discuss Spanish politics in Spanish.

editors note: You can read the full program review on Abroad101!

But how did this help me in my career?

I teach American Literature and ESL (English as a Second Language) in a high school in Queens, New York. Approximately 70% of my students are former English Language Learners, and of these 55% speak Spanish at home. Speaking Spanish is obviously useful. Anywhere you work in the world, speaking Spanish can only be an asset. But you probably already knew that.

Those two weeks I spent lost in static taught me more about second language acquisition than I could learn from a textbook. The strategies I used are strategies that I encourage my students to use.

  • Sit in the front of the classroom and minimize distractions.
  • Read for the gist of paragraphs rather than trying to understand every word on the page.
  • Use context clues when you can and a dictionary when you can’t.
  • Use physical and facial cues to help construct meaning.
  • Ask people to slow down or say it again.
  • Ask for help and ask questions.
  • Speak your native language when you need to. It’s totally fine.

I strongly believe that I have a better understanding of how to teach literature to ELLs and former ELLs because of my experience abroad. Teachers of ELLs are encouraged to discuss strategies for learning, as well as concepts to be learned. I had to learn these strategies for myself, so when I present these ideas, I am speaking as someone with experience, not someone who only read about these strategies in Chapter 2. Because we have all braved the static, we know we can trust each other to get to the point where the words come freely.

 

– Elizabeth Tanzer-Ritter
For StudyAbroad101.com

 

Elizabeth Tanzer-RitterElizabeth Tanzer-Ritter

I am in my eighth year of teaching English and ESL in the highly diverse New York City Public Schools. I graduated from Brandeis University in 2007 with a major in English Language and Literature and a double minor in Secondary Education and Spanish Language and Literature. I studied abroad during my junior year of college. I studied in Alcalá de Henares, Spain in 2006 (and it was awesome). I earned a graduate degree from Queens College in English Education in 2011 and a certificate in TESOL from St. John’s University in 2013. I love what I do and I am so grateful to be able to apply my experiences abroad to my experience in the workplace.

Study Abroad Advantage member Allie Bunch interview

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To draw attention to The Study Abroad Advantage professional networking group on Linkedin, we prompted our members to nominate a student with the most professional study abroad review. Our winner, Allie Bunch, talks more about her time away from Clark University and what it was like to study at one of the most elite universities in the world, The London School of Economics. Allie will soon be completing her degree at Clark and is ready to be hired! Read this interview and learn about her growth and maturity through study abroad. 

Join the Study Abroad Advantage on LinkedIn

 

1) Tell us a little about your background, did your parents attend college?  Do you have siblings in college?

Both of my parents attended college – my father graduated with a BSc in Education and my mother with an AA in Apparel Design. They have always encouraged and supported me in my pursuit for higher learning, and as their oldest child they are experiencing all of the firsts along with me. This year, my younger sister started at Endicott College, also in Massachusetts, so we are definitely a family driven to be educated.

 

2) We assume that you studied abroad as a Junior, is that correct?

Yes, I was abroad during my Junior year.

 

3) You took the path of a full year abroad, and you chose one of the top ranked universities in the world. Two pretty bold steps.  Most people don’t know much about Clark, but they do about LSE, tell us more about why you chose this path and what you expected?

I grew up in Seattle, Washington, so when it was time to pick a college, I seized the opportunity to make a big change. I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts to go to Clark University in no small part due to the university’s strong study abroad program. During my Sophomore year, I had the opportunity to work in the Office of Study Abroad/Away and learned about the LSE program during my first week on the job. I remember leaving work that day and calling my parents to inform them that I would be spending my Junior year in London. I was in my second year at Clark I was ready to make another big change, and this program was exactly what I was looking for. I felt that a one-semester program wouldn’t satisfy me: I’d just be getting settled in by the time I had to turn around and come back. Education opens up a lot of doors, but what many people – especially young adults my age – don’t realize is the opportunity that education can give you to explore. I’d already gotten a taste of that when I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast, and I was lucky enough to recognize that opportunity for a second time. As an adult in a professional setting, there are not many chances to travel and engage with other cultures for extended periods of time, but being a student provides almost a built-in excuse to really discover what’s out there.

 

4) From your review, you seemed to have a pretty remarkable experience, in the review we asked if it was worthwhile, did it also meet your expectations?   

I think one of my strengths that has been long in development is the ability to go into things with a very open mind and very few expectations. I went to London expecting only new experiences and challenges, both of which I got in abundance. I experienced living in the heart of a big city, interacting with many different cultures on a daily basis, and being in a location from which I had access to other countries almost as easily as one can access neighboring states in the US. The first trip that I took outside of the UK was to Spain for just three days, and the ability to hop from country to country was unique and endlessly exciting. I am also thankful that I was prepared for challenges, because studying at the LSE is undeniably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was not only adapting to a new education system, but that education system was also the most rigorous I have ever faced. This was important to me, though. Obviously spending a year at a less-challenging institution sounded appealing, but I wanted my experience to contribute to my future through both experiences as well as education, and I think that my time at the LSE will do this throughout my lifetime.

 

5) You refer to the GC – the General Course, which sounded like it was filled with foreign students, what percentage were Americans?  Are they what you expected?  How did you get along with the non-American, non-British students?

It’s funny that you ask this, because as I look back, most of the friends that I remain in touch with were other American students. I think that this is partially due to the house I chose to live in, Northumberland House, which housed more students from the US than some of the others. I didn’t mind this so much though because I was able to interact and engage with students from other areas through my classes and my involvement in the LSE Dance Society. I found that in some cases, the students who went abroad to the LSE with friends from home tended to keep mostly to themselves, but for the most part everyone was friendly and willing to branch out very quickly.

 

6) Tell us a bit about the differences of the campuses and how you think that will affect the outlook of where you look for work.

Worcester is as different from London as night from day. Clark is located in an area of Massachusetts that has certainly seen better days – Worcester was a booming city in the past, but has since fallen off since the decline of its manufacturing industry. Though there are many colleges and universities in the city, there is very little else when held up next to London. I lived in Northumberland House, which is between Trafalgar Square and the Thames; literally in the center of London. Every morning I walked to school on the Strand with businessmen and women and every evening I made my way back through crowds waiting outside of theaters for the next big musical. I’m no stranger to big cities after growing up in Seattle, but London is a different breed and will absolutely affect where I decide to settle for work. I loved and thrived in the business and bustle of the city and ideally would seek out a job in or close to a similar city, with lots of opportunities to travel and experience more of these around the world.

 

7) You mentioned tying into the LSE Alumni network, how do you plan to do so, how has it gone so far?  Do you have any tips for future students?

Unfortunately, the bulk of the LSE Alumni network caters more to students in the UK and greater Europe. However, there is an organization here in the States called Alumni and Friends of the LSE (AFLSE) that alumni can join for a membership fee. I haven’t pursued this avenue yet, but might consider it in the future. For now, I’m happy working on my own as sort of an ambassador for the program, especially among my peers and younger students looking for a challenging and rewarding study abroad destination.

 

8) You’ve joined The Study Abroad Advantage group on Linkedin and sound like you plan to use your experience at LSE to separate yourself from other job seekers, how do plan to do that?  What are your talking points?  How are you translating your comments about growth and maturity into door openers for work?  What else can you offer in the way of suggestions to students about to study abroad?

I think that my time at the LSE sets me apart from my peers because my experience is unique and shows my ability to adapt and face challenges head-on. I think that the most important thing for me is that I really proved to myself what my capabilities and strengths are. Of course having the title ‘London School of Economics and Political Science’ on a resume will look good on its own, but I would stress to a potential employer that it’s really what I was able to take from my studies and from my time abroad as a whole that will distinguish me from other job seekers. To students planning to study abroad, I would say avoid entering into the program with expectations of how you think it will be. Prepare, of course, for the rigors of the program and for immersion in a different culture, but be ready to adapt and be excited to be surprised. Regardless of the program, it will be an incredibly rewarding experience.

 

9) If you’ve not landed a job yet, here’s your chance to show-off – why should someone hire Allie Bunch?

I learned a lot during my year at the LSE, and not just about political science. I learned so much about myself that I am excited to apply to whatever job I find myself in: I’m wildly ambitious and have a much more adaptable mind than I ever realized. I surprised myself, really, by how well I did in the program, and I think that’s because I am driven to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations of me – including my own. I am self-sufficient and determined. I am highly responsible, a practiced communicator, and a fast learner. I showed myself that it is when I am faced with new challenges or when I find myself under pressure that I thrive. It is these skills, and others, which I will bring with enthusiasm and passion to any job.

 

3 Reasons Why Studying Abroad Enhances Your Job Prospects

All over townIf you’re like me, your parents and professors were skeptical about your decision to study abroad during college. After all, it’s a daunting prospect to go through the immense task of immersing yourself in an entirely new language and culture. And for all this trouble, what is spending a few months overseas going to do for your job prospects? Incidentally, studying abroad — and the invaluable language skills and cultural knowledge that come with it — can end up being one of the most career-defining decisions you could make. Having spent a summer in Argentina, I can personally attest to this: studying abroad is a great way to enrich yourself — personally, professionally, and linguistically.

1. Learning a language gives you problem-solving skills

When you are living in a country that speaks a foreign language, you are forced to leave your comfort zone. Suddenly, even seemingly mundane, everyday tasks become challenges that require patience and creativity to overcome. In my case, the day after I arrived in Argentina, I was forced to confront one of these challenges: I realized that I had fallen ill with Lyme disease, an illness that exists only in North America and Europe! Despite the language barrier between us, my doctor and I were eventually able to communicate, and I received proper treatment.

Despite its difficulty, learning language through this type of experience is crucial in developing real-life language skills. But more than improving your language skills, your trials in communication are great fodder for cover letters, application essays, and interviews. Studying abroad is guaranteed to give you a plethora of answers to those dreaded and ubiquitous application and interview questions about conflict resolution and problem-solving.

2. Being bilingual helps you make international connections

As your language skills progress on your trip abroad, you will undoubtedly find it easier to make friends internationally. While making friends is great on a personal level, it’s also a fantastic start to building an international professional network. The relationships that you build on your trip abroad are an excellent way not only to expand your own horizons, but also enhance your ability to be a serious contender in an increasingly global workplace.

Since my trip to Argentina, my knowledge of Argentinean Spanish has helped me greatly in making connections in the Spanish-speaking world. For example, when an Argentinian author visited my college the year after I studied abroad, I struck up a conversation with him in Spanish, showcasing my knowledge of Argentinean idiomatic expressions and slang. Impressed with my knowledge of his language and culture, he offered me a job in translating some of his work, and I continue to work for him to this day.

3. Bilingualism is a huge plus for prospective employers

Perhaps the most important career bonus to studying abroad is that it gives you constant exposure to native speakers of a foreign language, which is the only way to really learn the intricacies and complexities of a new language. In addition to the chic factor of bilingualism, fluency in a foreign language gets you jobs. Indeed, learning a language abroad demonstrates a host of positive qualities to prospective employers — it highlights your independence, your intellectual flexibility, your resourcefulness, and your ability to thrive in unfamiliar environments.

In my case, only by immersing myself in a Spanish-speaking culture was I able to truly acquire proficient Spanish-language skills, which has opened countless doors for me professionally. In fact, my bilingualism is the reason that I have the job that I do now, which requires me speak in both English and Spanish on a daily basis. My job allows me to write about what I love, and sustain myself while I study Spanish and plan the next destination on my list of travels.

As my journey shows, today’s job market is as much about networking as it is about skills and where you got your degree. Being in the market, making personal contacts and connecting with people proved to be the answer for me, if you really want to work overseas, I suggest you go for it. Showcase your time abroad by creating a review, demonstrate your ability to offer constructive criticism, take ownership of adversity and grow to have a enviable world view. Submit your education abroad review here then use in in networking groups like The Study Abroad Advantage to find opportunities.

Don’t listen to the skeptics: studying abroad is one of the best career moves that you can make. And if you have reservations about jumping head-first into a new language and culture, you can prepare yourself with some free online resources that help you practice the language you’ll be using overseas. Studying abroad allows you to engage your curiosity, expand your worldview, and experience a new culture. Most of all, it grants you the gift of bilingualism, which has proven time and time again to be a serious advantage in terms of both bragging rights and job prospects. For those looking to embark on an exciting adventure and advance their careers at the same time, I couldn’t recommend studying abroad more highly.

 

paul_thumbnailPaul currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he teaches English and writes for Language Trainers, a worldwide language teaching service for individuals and professionals. You can visit their website or email paul@languagetrainers.com for more information.

Returning to Amsterdam after a year abroad

amsterdam studio

Shipping container complex – Stavangerweg, Amsterdam. Picture Source: dekey.nl

After researching cities around the world and various study-abroad programs, I found Amsterdam to be the most intriguing in terms of its urban landscape, seemingly progressive social policies, and central location in Europe. It was important that I live in a non-english speaking country but still be able to study in English—which is something Amsterdam would be able to provide.

My year abroad in Amsterdam

I eventually (and quite happily, I may add) landed a spot at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (via the ISEP programme) for the full 2010-2011 academic year. The university set me up with a studio in a unique shipping container complex where I had the freedom, accessibility, and opportunity to take the most of Amsterdam and its people.

I took a range of classes (including Dutch, Financial geography, the sociology of cities, and history of the Lowlands), befriended many internationals as well as Dutch, and was able to easily travel around the rest of the country and other hotspots in Europe.

To say the least, Amsterdam won over my heart that year — for a multitude of reasons. With a population of only around 700,000 – Amsterdam felt like a city of villages where you had the comfort of small scale but also the advantage of its international, cosmopolitan nature.

I also fell in love with the ubiquity of cycling. To live in a place where the majority of people cycle from A to B brought a sense of ease and smoothness to my life, something I’d never felt in other automobile-centric cities. The fact that I could easily reach any corner of the city within 30 minutes – always carrying my own weight and arriving to the next place with energy pumping into my veins—was invaluable.

The Great Return

When I finished my last year at the University of Vermont after my grand ol’ year in Amsterdam, I was determined to return back to Dam (or Dammage, Hamsterdam, Amsterjam – as I like to call it). I luckily have an Irish passport (I am American, but my father is Irish), so securing residency and work permits was not an issue. However, like many recently graduated, finding work became somewhat of a nervous scramble, and was exacerbated by the fact that I was searching for jobs in a foreign country.

With little work experience and professional connections in the Netherlands, I decided that it would be best (albeit risky) to move to the Dam without a job. With good friends I had met from my year exchange I had places to stay and knew people in the local job force who could provide me with ideas and leads.

After a month or two, I finally landed a job with Imbull, a company that runs a handful of websites including Flipit.com, a startup website that is aiming to become the number one couponing powerhouse in the world. Luckily, and rather appropriately for the theme of this article, I discovered the job vacancy from a friend I had met during my exchange year at the University of Amsterdam.
flipitDue to the international nature of the company, Imbull was quite enthusiastic when it came to hiring international staff. They took full advantage of Amsterdam’s cosmopolitan character and I feel a lot of international companies in this city accept and even seek after American or other English speaking degrees.   Because of this, Imbull was able to start a global venture without having to outsource much of the work or bring employees over from different countries.   They did, however, help a few staff members secure working and residency visas, which is one of the only ways the Netherlands allows people to remain in the country if they don’t have Dutch or EU citizenship.

For my bachelor degree, I studied political science and human geography, so how on earth did I end up at a marketing/tech-oriented company? Young startups are always looking for an energetic, young, and relatively inexpensive labour force who can learn quickly and grow with (and within) the company. Imbull promised to teach me the skills I would need and in return I was the sort of flexible, adaptable, computer-savvy, and low-level employee they needed.

Startups move with haste. Since there is less bureaucracy than larger, more established companies, decisions can be made quickly, and startups can generally do more with fewer resources.
Within the first week of working, I was given the task of content editing and Search Engine Optimisation for the Singaporean version of Flipit, which had just been launched a week before I began working. As I became more comfortable with the content management system and the other tasks I was given, I quickly gained more responsibility and control over the direction that the website would take.

The average age at Imbull is 27, which has been ideal for my first job outside of university since everyone is young, enthusiastic, and well, let’s just say … a little bit nutty. Flipit.com is active in 23 countries so we have quite the international staff, with each employee bringing a new flavour and attitude to our eclectic team. If you were in our office you’d hear the English girl cracking sarcastic jokes to the slightly more sensible but chatty Scandinavians; or you’d notice the slightly obnoxious American (me) speaking broken French to her Dutch-Morroccan-French colleague. Needless to say, it is quite the scene.

Oranjekerk - our new offices in Amsterdam

Oranjekerk – our new offices in Amsterdam


Final Words of Advice

As I mentioned earlier, I would not have found this exciting start up if it weren’t for my year exchange! So if you are thinking of going abroad remember: the connections and people you may come across will be invaluable for your future, particularly if you hope to return to where you’ve studied, either to work or to visit.

And don’t forget to branch out while you are abroad – I see many American exchange students stick together with other Americans for the entirety of their exchange. A lot of your programs will be engineered in such a way that you will be living and taking classes with other Americans. It’ll be difficult to step out of this bubble, but it will be worth.

 

 

 

Guest Post –
Eliza Shaw, Flipit.com

 

 

Abroad101 Announces “The Study Abroad Advantage”

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Join the Study Abroad Advantage on LinkedIn

Putting the Ideals of Study Abroad into Practice, Abroad101 Announces “The Study Abroad Advantage”

International education software company extends its platform to help students advance their careers.

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New York, NY (PRWEB) October 06, 2014

Abroad101 has launched an initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” Designed to help college students gain an edge in the job market after graduation, this collaborative effort involves students, college advisors and prospective employers. Students start their Advantage with a capstone summary of their education abroad published on Abroad101. This review is logo_prwebthen shared via social networks and other outlets with prospective employers who are looking for students with international experience, foreign language skills and the maturity that comes from being overseas.

Study Abroad is widely considered advantageous in the job market. Mark Shay, CEO of Abroad101.com stated, “The goal of The Study Abroad Advantage is to put this theory into practice by providing a platform for students to showcase how they have grown and matured while overseas. For employers, The Study Abroad Advantage is a place for HR departments, hiring managers and recruiters to get a glimpse into the personality and character of the student as a prospective employee.”

Connecting the two is a group on Linkedin called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” The group was created on August 30 and was joined by over 250 students in the first 5 days. Students in the group link to their study abroad review from their Linkedin profile as a reference point, while employers and job recruiters use the group to connect and network with these stand-out students.

Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is an early supporter of The Study Abroad Advantage. Trinity has a vibrant study abroad program and requires returning students to complete a program evaluation through Abroad 101. Nancy Ericksen, Assistant Director for Study Abroad in the International Programs Office at Trinity, says, “The future is here. With the reality of technological advances and a growing global economy, I believe that the student with international experience has an advantage in preparing for the world of tomorrow. Using The Study Abroad Advantage, our students can showcase their experience and use it in opening contact with employers – leveraging that to start their career.”

Employers are increasingly turning to the web to investigate candidates, discover how well they communicate and present themselves added Martin Tillman, President of Global Career Compass, an international consulting practice focusing on the impact of study abroad on student career development: “There is much evidence (in research conducted by both academics, private companies and research organizations) that the value-added of international education experience to a students’ career development is diminished if students cannot clearly articulate the impact of that experience. The Study Abroad Advantage is a nice way for education abroad advisors and career service counselors to harmonize their professional skills with technology to enhance the value of study abroad for their students.”

The Linkedin group is just the beginning according to Abroad101’s Shay: “We are looking forward to working with university career centers and placement offices as well as large employers to find innovative ways to help these creative, ambitious and now mature students turn their real-world experiences to leap forward in their career development. The core philosophy of The Study Abroad Advantage is to provide a platform to channel the energy and idealism fostered by international education into organizations in need of talent.”

About Abroad101
Founded in 2007, Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website that also gives universities a software tool for evaluating their exchange, faculty-led, third-party provider, volunteer and internship programs. Focusing on American college students looking for a semester or term abroad, this innovative system connects past and future students, parents, advisors and program providers. As part of the platform, the Abroad101 directory of study abroad programs is the most comprehensive database in the field today. To see the study abroad rankings rating and reviews visit http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

Read this Press Release on PR Web

Top 4 Ways to Include High School Study Abroad on Your College Resume

Close-up of an 'Approved' College Application letter.

So, you’ve come back from your amazing high school study abroad program, and now you’re basking in the glow of all your wonderful experiences and memories – the places you saw, the people you met, and (let’s be honest) the many, many crepes you devoured for both breakfast AND dinner. And while you may not exactly be ready to think about those pesky impending college apps yet, it’s likely that the time to fill them out will come much sooner rather than later. But, luckily for you, did you know that high school study abroad can really set you apart from the crowd when it comes to college admissions? It’s simply all about how you translate your experience into practical terms that look resume-worthy – for instance, stating that you “took a language course in Spain” isn’t as impressive as saying that you “improved oral proficiency in Spanish and gained a higher level of overall fluency”. Read on for the top 4 ways to include high school study abroad on your college resume!

  • You acquired the ability to speak a second language. Second language acquisition is rapidly becoming the norm for college applicants everywhere – when French is the official language of 35 countries, nearly 45 million Americans speak Spanish as their first language, and Mandarin easily has the most native speakers worldwide, it’s no surprise that this would be the case. The fact of the matter is, admissions boards are getting more and more used to seeing applicants that have intimate knowledge of second and even third languages, so including this on your resume is a no-brainer (just be sure to go into detail about your rate of improvement during your time abroad, what you specifically studied and how this contributed to your knowledge of the language, etc.)
  • You’re now on your way to becoming a true global leader. Whether you realize it or not, study abroad imbues you with some truly valuable global leadership skills – other than being proficient in a foreign language, these include acquiring necessary cultural empathy and the ability to make decisions through a global lens (all of which are note-worthy buzz words for college admissions boards). Get ready to ride the global leadership train all the way to your top school pick when you include these skills on your resume!
  • You increased your level of cultural awareness and tolerance. One of the best things about study abroad is that it forces you to become open to other ways of life. In today’s globalized world, this level of heightened cross-cultural awareness and tolerance is crucial – admissions boards want to see this demonstrated, in print. Immersion programs in particular (so, programs in which you live with local families and speak and hear the language constantly) are excellent ways to acquire these skills.
  • You overcame language and cultural barriers. Learning to successfully navigate your way through a conversation in Italian (rather than, ahem, faking it) is a huge victory in itself – and, bonus, this is also something that can translate into some serious communication skills development on your resume! Think about it: overcoming different cultural and language barriers likely required you to use communication skills you didn’t even know you had. Intercultural communication is in itself an in-demand skill, but learning to communicate across cultures also results in a higher level of assertiveness and self-confidence – hello, leadership skills!).

About the Author: Justine Harrington is the Admissions Director for SPI Study Abroad, a leading provider of language and cultural immersion summer programs for high school students. She is also the author of the SPI Blog.