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.

 

Study Abroad – See sports you NEVER expected!

A lot of attention is paid to sports in the United States, but the craze for competition goes well beyond American shores. For those of you who love sports and can’t imagine a semester without the sports pages, ESPN or sports talk, don’t worry there’s hope abroad. In America we love our football. In Europe they have..well, football and in Australia they have.. well football. The Aussies may also call it Footie and the Europeans may call it The Beautiful Game and for those of you considering study abroad it is yet another chance to experience cultural immersion.

From Finland to East Asia let’s explore some of the silliest, wackiest, and most outrageous competitions around. At first glance these sports will make your head spin, but pull up a chair, pop open a beverage, stoke up the grill and join the global tailgate, because sports abroad can be as entertaining as it gets!

photo courtesy of The Georgetonian

photo courtesy of The Georgetonian

First stop Finland:

Land of fine chocolates, fiord hockey and cheerful shoes. Finland has been the butt of many jokes about cultures both strange and exotic. But really, she’s a good country and one that plays host to one of the world’s most triumphant competitions known, in Fin-speak, as Eukankanto. Translation: Wife Carrying.

The pictured ‘carry’ is known as Estonian style. Wife Carrying is a heralded sport in it’s European home that not surprisingly has penetrated other cultures across the continents. On competition day, an annual event, wives will enjoy having their husband lunge through sandy, fenced, and wet obstacles all while just inches from their partner’s bum. Ultimately, the prize to gain is not the glory of “World Wife Carrying Champion” but rather the grand prize of your wife’s weight in beer.

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Next stop, Japan where you might have thought Sumo was as strange or bizarre as it gets. No, we found a sport that may have started as a training regiment for Power Rangers. It is called Bo Taoshi and it looks something like this:

 


(YOUTUBE LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNVkXNdH2mA)

The object of the game is for the defending team to keep its pole at full mast for as long as possible. As you can see from the video, there is an attacking team that will scrape, claw, fight, and even walk on you to bring it down. The match ends when the pole is tilted to a 35-degree angle from its 90 degree start. It doesn’t seem like there a lot of regulation but there is surely a lot of participation. It cannot be for the faint of heart since the Japanese military uses it as a training exercise for recruits. This bizarre sport should probably be reserved for adults considering its extremely physical nature, but I for one would love to be in the Fujitsu super box watching this one replayed over and over!

Buzkashi

Moving away from the made for TV sports, our last comes from Central Asia, the region consisting of countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. There you will find something very out of this world and something that I can assure you the NCAA will never sanction on campuses. It is a very widely played sport in this area and also the national sport of Afghanistan called Buzkashi. Translation: Goat Bashing.

photo found on http://www.ontravelarabia.com

photo found on http://www.ontravelarabia.com

Okay so it isn’t exactly how it sounds. Goat Bashing is more of a relative translation. The sport more so involves the use of a goat and probably more bashing of other riders instead of the goat…which starts the game dead. The fierce competition begins with a dead goat lying on the ground and 10 men on horseback. Basically the object of the game is to snag the goat up from the desert ground and carry it to the goal. Matches can be played as teams or individually where every rider plays for their self. Some of these matches see hundreds, maybe even thousands, of spectators during the season that spans from November to mid-spring. Before anyone gets too judgmental, try to imagine what your typical Central Asian resident would think of the BCS Championship or the Final Four and all of its unbridled enthusiasm. Fun fact about Buzkashi, it was actually banned by the Taliban regime but since their ousting from control, the sport is being enjoyed by Afghanistan’s people once more.

If you love sports like I do, and you want to study abroad, let me assure you that missing one Iron Bowl or Red River Shootout, Holy War or World’s Largest Cocktail Party (all annual rival Football games for you non football lovers) for the likes of Buzkashi, Bo Taoshi or Eukankanto is, as they say, PRICELESS! People everywhere share a love for competition and it can be a way for you to connect with the new environments that lie ahead of you. Competition is in our blood and can often be very healthy, unless you are the goat! If you’re headed for a part of the world that Fox NFL Sunday doesn’t cover then I’d say explore what kinds of sports satisfy the locals. You can bring your culture to them, tailgate and chant and maybe even participate if you try hard enough. If not, then no worries. Kick back, see the sights, and have faith in the thought that you definitely aren’t the only one to do a double take at some of these bizarre events.

Interested in exploring sports abroad? Visit Abroad101.com for programs all over the world.

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.

Study in Perth

 

Abroad101.com - StudyPerth

Study abroad programs in beautiful Perth Australia

Looking for a study destination with flexible study pathways, pristine beaches with the No. 1 student diversity in Australia?

Here are some of the reasons why you should choose Perth, Australia as your next study destin(HR RGB) Perth from above-Horizontal-resizedation!

Perth has been rated as one of the world’s top 10 most liveable cities (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013), ranked in the top 10 per cent of 215 world cities for quality of life (Mercer, 2012) and top 30 Best Student Cities in the World (QS, 2013).

 

World-class education

Western Australia’s world-class universities, colleges and schools provide quality-assured education with flexible study pathways. The state’s practical approach to education, guided by teachers who are experts in their field, ensures that you are taught the skills that employers are looking for in today’s competitive world. Your study experience will not only provide you with learning, but also the possibility to be part of the growing academic and professional network that will guide the future of our city.

A lifestyle that’s hard to match!

Perth offers one of the highest standards of living in the world and yet is more affordable than the UK and the USA. As a student, you will receive a 40 per cent discount on all public transport throughout the state. Perth also has a relatively low crime rate compared to other major cities, making its campuses, transport and city streets safe and secure.

Most multicultural city in Australia

Perth is number one in Australia for student diversity. People of more tDSC_6028han 200 different nationalities live, work and study in Perth, speak over 170 languages and practise over 100 religions. There are numerous places of worship, with most restaurants and campuses catering for religious and dietary requirements. So, no matter where you’re from you’ll always feel welcome and respected.

 

 

Working in Perth

Perth has experienced an economic boom and is in the midst of a cultural rebirth. We currently generate around 19 per cent of Australia’s jobs, but have only 11 per cent of the population —meaning there’s never been a better time or place to find a job than right now, in Western Australia! Working in Perth while you study is not only a great way to earn some extra money. It will give you the chance to be part of our community and experience our way of life, and it’s also a fantastic way to work on your English language skills if you’re not a native speaker.

If you are on a student visa (a full-time international student), you will have the opportunity to work part time for up to 40 hours per fortnight and unlimited hours during semester break.

Making the most of your time in Perth

We value a balance of work and leisure in our lives and make the most of Australia’s open spaces with our city DSC_7642design and housing. The city centre is the home of business, as well as dozens of new bars, clubs and restaurants. Surrounding entertainment districts provide relaxed environments for music, theatre, festivals and cinema, and are minutes away from the peace and security of residential areas. Our Swan River, historic Fremantle port and King’s Park Botanic Gardens are the hub of outdoor recreation in the city, and our beaches are wide, pristine and welcoming.

Perth is at a unique point in its history and development. We are in a position to offer study choices, lifestyle benefits and career possibilities not available anywhere else, and in one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the world. An education in Perth is a chance to be part of this exciting new future, no matter your goals and interests.

Search for your course today at www.studyperth.com.au.

StudyPerth is the first point of contact for anyone wishing to obtain information on studying and living in Perth, Australia.

Living with a Host Family

DSCN2281Kellie is an Abroad101 Global Ambassador, who spent the spring of 2013 studying abroad in Paris, France with AIFS.  In this post she tells us why you should consider living with a host family when you study abroad!

“When I chose to live with a host family I knew I would gain cultural and language experience, but I honestly had no idea what I was signing myself up for. Let me start by telling you about my first night in Paris where I started to question whether it was too late to just fly back to Texas. Continue reading

Happy Bastille Day!

Bastille Day
photo credit:
side78

Tomorrow, the 14th of July marks the annual celebration for all French and Francophile enthusiasts, Bastille Day! Bastille Day is what English speaking countries refer to the day as, yet in France it’s better know as La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) or  Le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July)

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Thinking of the perfect gift for your host family

 

Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!

So you’ve packed your clothes, guidebooks, cameras, and other essentials from home that you’ll need while you’re abroad. Before trying to stuff the last couple square centimeters of your luggage with items that you probably won’t even use, be sure to save space for a gift to give your host family! Not only do you want to make a good impression and show your gratitude for opening up their home to you, but if it’s done right, this small gesture can be a great way for them to get to know you! Some of the best gifts are those that spark meaningful conversations that can set the tone for the rest of your stay.  Continue reading

If I Had a Study Abroad Do-Over

Angie Orth

Angie Orth, courtesy of angieaway.com

Today we have a very special guest on our blog. We are honored to feature the lovely and VERY well travelled Angie Orth, who studied abroad in Paris back in 2003. Today Angie has a successful travel blog that documents her jaunts through the slums in Kenya to gelato in Rome and everything in between. We asked Angie if she could reflect a bit on her own study abroad experience and how it’s shaped who she is today. Here’s what she had to say.

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Guest Post: Dr. Tara Keenan from John Cabot University in Rome

Rome: Castel Sant Angelo

photo credit:
Art History Images

Today, Abroad101 is so lucky to have a guest blog post written by Dr. Tara Keenan, a writing instructor at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.

Tara Keenan received her BA and MA from New York University. She attended a study abroad program in Ireland where she first learned about intercultural dialogue and global citizenship. Afterward, she taught high school English in New York and then decided to attend Dublin’s Trinity College for her Ph.D. in European History focusing on feminism in Ireland. Upon finishing that program and publishing a book entitled, “Irish Women and Street Politics”, she moved back to New York where she directed a local office of the New York Civil Liberties Union for three years. During that time she taught history and politics at various colleges and universities in New York including Fordham University and CUNY.  She’s currently a writing instructor and the coordinator of the John Cabot University Writing Center in Rome. Continue reading