Abroad101 Advisors Newsletter – Winter 2016


Please take a moment to remember the last time you booked a hotel, chose a movie or show in a theater, picked a restaurant, or bought a product online.  Did a review guide your decision?  If these small decisions were influenced by reviews, then we’re sure you’ll be interested in how something as unknown as an education abroad experience needs reviews.  Since 2007, Abroad101 has been helping universities manage the demand for reviews by turning the old-style program evaluation into a dynamic online review platform.  We’ve processed over 3,000 new study abroad reviews from just the last semester with more coming every day.  Abroad101 has pioneered the responsible use of reviews to complement university goals and in this edition of our advisor’s newsletter we take a look at reviews in the bigger picture.

The Best Reviews are About the Student

For students, study abroad is hard, the rewards are personal and telling their story is a big part of the process. Abroad101 helps universities collect student accounts of their time abroad and publishes them as reviews and personal points of pride.  A study abroad review is different than a restaurant review or that of a retail transaction as the best reviews are ones that focus on the student.  A good study abroad review is reflective, heart-felt and tells about the student’s growth and discoveries, even states the student’s worldview and views for the future. 

The reward for a good study abroad review is a lasting testimonial, one the student will take pride in sharing with you the advisor, their friends and family.  Please don’t feel it is necessary to pay or otherwise entice reviews through rewards or a sweepstakes.  This mentality cheapens the value of the student’s work and can sway students to be less than honest in order to improve their chances of “winning.” When you direct students to submit a study abroad review through Abroad101, the essential messages that you are sending are to share their experience with the world and take pride in those accomplishments.

Re-Entry in a Box

The Abroad101 review is 37 questions in length and is designed to walk students through a reflection of who they were before they left, who they are now and what they hope for their future.  As part of this process, they will rate 9 different aspects of their program and provide some insight and tips for future students.  Taking 20-30 minutes to complete, the review can help students put their feelings into words and start the process of communicating their experiences in concise and coherent ways.  As an advisor, you can manage this process by using the Abroad101 tools and then tally those responses in reports.

Candor is Key

Reviews are very influential in today’s consumer market and study abroad is no exception.  People come to review sites looking for balance to the always-positive websites, brochures and in-person presentations.  They know things aren’t perfect and want to understand what may be imperfect about a given location, program or host.  Quite often the visitors to Abroad101 are coming to validate their earlier discoveries and because of this, we see a significant portion of our traffic from parents and other adults who support students.  Students may be drawn to the ratings and comments about food and social aspects of a program, while parents see value in ratings and comments about safety and cost.  The 37 questions in the Abroad101 review give everyone something to discuss with plenty of examples to engage in a meaningful dialog and hopefully break some stereotypes about other people and other parts the world.

The vast majority of students who study abroad have an overwhelmingly positive experience, which is reflected in the reviews.  Those that struggle and report negative things will actually help future students prepare and set their expectations.  We hope you’ll bring these reviews to the attention of future students so that they can put things in perspective.  Costs in London are high, academics at Oxford are hard, petty crime is rampant in Paris and the food in Ghana is, well, … different.  Knowing these things before a student goes away may make a big difference in how they prepare.  As advisors you discuss these issues over and over, but with reviews the students are learning from their peers and for the schools that require reviews of their students, the peer advising affect seems to really help.

Please encourage your students to read the reviews as part of their pre-departure preparation and push them to be candid in their reviews when they return.  Students can start their review at http://www.StudyAbroad101.com/reviews/new

Transparency vs. Exposure and Risk

The concept of transparency is another reason universities turn to Abroad101. They want every story to be told and they want to capture the student’s voice in their promotion of education abroad.  The publication of these evaluations does worry some, fearing that unpleasant experiences will chase away future students.  We have this discussion daily with university officials and Abroad101 strongly believes that the risk of non-disclosure and suppression of a student’s story is a greater risk than any possible adverse affects of a negative review.  Failure to publish these accounts in today’s review-focused world is more telling than publishing stories of unhappy participants.

There are organizations lobbying government to mandate transparency and accountability and we strongly believe that using Abroad101 as your platform puts you at the forefront of this issue.  Publishing shows integrity and may well mitigate your risk if complications arise in the future. As the old slogan goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind” and when it comes to education abroad, it is riskier not to prepare students for the unknowns they face.  Using the Abroad101 system is an effective way to better prepare students and their families for the experience and lessen your liability for not disclosing past details.

Data, Data, Data

When you use Abroad101, you also harvest a wealth of data from your students and can compare it to students from other universities.  With our reporting you can see graphs on how your students rate their experience in those 9 categories and you can compare, even benchmark this against your own students (semester by semester) and all other institutions.  Those that use Abroad101 for their faculty-led programs can even compare, program by program against other programs operating in the same country.  One Dean recently told us about his use of Abroad101 stats in his university’s regional accreditation review.  He is using Abroad101 to benchmark his students’ education abroad experiences against others with the graphs report from his Abroad101 dashboard.

Publish or Perish

Faculty members often say they have to publish to stay noticed and relevant in their field.  We suggest that same guiding principle is needed for your study abroad offices.  In today’s consumer-focused, review-driven economy, reviews are key and those universities that don’t subscribe to this practice risk alienating their core constituency.  You may be using some other way to collect your evaluations and assessments, but if you are not publishing them, you are missing a big opportunity.  The Abroad101 software can provide you with the tools to manage this process reliably and effectively and at a cost that can’t be beat.

The software is free, the training is free, the support is fast and the process is easy.  Custom solutions are available if you need more functionality.

You can use Abroad101 for third-party programs, exchanges, faculty-led programs plus service learning and internships for credit.  Programs can be overseas or can include “study away” domestic programs as well.

We hope you’ll call us for a no-obligation demo of the Abroad101 software and use it to advance education abroad at your institution.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Mark Shay






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Sending Money Abroad: How To Cut Back On Costs

bankwireStudents, or their devoted parents, are bound to send substantial amounts of money abroad if they (or their children) decide to study in a different country. A year at a UK university would cost £12,000 (or $17,5000) per year, and a year in Australia would cost even slightly more (AU$24,000 / US $17,500), and that’s for tuition and university fees alone, not including other expenses.

If you include living costs into the equation, the total annual cost would be approximately doubled, and would amount to anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000. That means that taking even a single semester abroad would cost thousands of dollars to fund. As stated before, these are significant amounts of money that has to be transferred between countries and currencies, and most people, students and parents alike, are inexperienced with the process.

Fees On Money Wires

As overseas education is an expensive business by itself, students often do whatever is in their power to reduce costs. They apply for scholarships, turn to public transportation, use free international call providers, and try to stick to a tight budget. What they seem to disregard or ignore is the incredible amount of money being spent on the process of move funds from their home country.

When sending money abroad, 3 or more types of fees incur. The first one is the simple upfront fee of about $30 per transfer in the U.S (eq. to that in other countries). The second one is the recipient bank’s fee which could amount to 1% of the total trade volume. The third one, which is the most significant one also, is the cost of exchanging money between currencies, which is usually 2.5% or more of the entire transfer. There are additional fees that vary according to country, bank, and account type.

Tuition fees of $20,000 could easily cost an additional grand just in bank fees, and a year at Harvard could cost an additional $5,000 just in bank fees, when it is paid for from abroad. That seems fairly illogical, as these fees are nowhere near proportional to the effort and risk that bank has to partake in order to execute them.

There are specialized services for those who are seeking for cheaper alternatives: commercial foreign exchange firms. The way they work is by “mediating” between banks – you send them the money, they exchange it for their much lower rates, and send it as a wire transfer to its new destination. With a transfer of $10,000 or more you can expect 1.5% or less in total transfer costs, and bigger transfers can induce a fee of 0.7% or less (it depends on the currencies exchanged, volumes, and timing). You can view a full breakdown here.

Some of the big names in the industry include Moneycorp, World First, Travelex, FairFX, HiFX, and of course Western Union’s money transfer platform (to to be confused with its remittances cash to cash transfers through branches).

Living Expenses

Living expenses is a different story. While money transfer companies could be the most cost-effective mean of transferring funds to a student abroad, students who only go abroad to study for a single semester would have difficulties with opening a local bank account.

The second alternative is with companies that issue pre-paid currency debit cards (some of the money transfer companies like FairFX or Moneycorp, also provide that service). These pre-paid cards can be loaded with one or more of several different currencies, are reloadable, the cost of currency exchange is lower, and there are no fees on withdrawing money or paying with them abroad. It’s extremely simple to reload this card with any type of currency – the parent just has to log to the online site, input his debit or credit card details, and the card is instantly loaded.


The exchange and transfer of money abroad is an important aspect that should not be overlooked by overseas students and their parents. It is possible to save thousands of dollars in fees by sidestepping from banks and looking into alternative providers.

Guest blogger…

Alon-RajicAuthor Bio: Alon Rajic is the Managing Director of Finofin LTD which owns and operates MoneyTransferComparison.com. He loves to read and write about everything relating to business and finance.

Study Abroad Program Evaluation Software

10 Reasons to use the Abroad101 education abroad assessment system at your university.

Education Advisors, please direct your students to submit their study abroad program evaluation (review) through Abroad101 –


A seldom seen section of the Great Wall of China

If your New Year’s Resolution is to advance education abroad on your campus, Abroad101 gives you 10 reasons why you should turn to us to manage your program evaluations:

1) Reviews are Rankings Nominations – Each review becomes a submission for the Study Abroad Rankings by Abroad101. The eight different star rated categories are compiled to recognize top providers and programs as well as highlight trends in the field like up-and-coming destinations and budget-friendly locations. This year, by popular demand, Top Academic Experience returns to the Study Abroad Rankings.

2) Reviews are Good for the Student – Abroad101 publishes each review as an individual web page and takes the student through 37-questions designed to summarize their experience and give them a point of pride to share with the world and jump start their career.

3) Program Evaluation Software – Abroad101’s systems works behind the scenes as software to manage program evaluations for third-party, exchanges, faculty-led and even internships and service programs for credit. In addition to the standard survey, universities can add custom questions, part of the free version of the software.

4) Reviews are Data – Unlike in-house evaluations, Abroad101’s standard set of questions allow for comparison among program types and against other institutions. By analyzing your trends over time, Abroad101 can help you report better on study abroad.

5) “Re-Entry in a Box” – By requesting or even requiring each student complete their program evaluation through Abroad101, you help students in their transition back to home campus life. The web-based survey takes the average student 20-30 minutes and gets them to focus on being reflective, taking responsibility for their actions, examining who they were before and what their worldview is now.

6) Be Transparent – Publishing the evaluations/reviews demonstrates you are compliant with all aspects of transparency and in today’s review driven economy it is better to put forward more information than less.

7) Set Expectations – Detailed reviews like those on Abroad101 can be used to help parents and advisors get insight into a particular program and destination. In aggregate, these are helpful in setting expectations and better preparing future students and their parents for what’s ahead.

8) Peer Influence – The Abroad101 reviews prompt returning students to give advise to future students on ways to better navigate their surroundings and also a specific question about money saving tips.

9) Integrate with Enrollment System – Abroad101 can be used as a complement to your enrollment management and student information systems. Using API’s, data can transfer between systems, or without much work, the systems can import/export data back and forth.

10) Fully supported – Abroad101 is web-based software that is fairly simple to use and user-friendly, but just in case, we have a team ready to support you. Free training through online demos and ongoing account support is there when you need it. Our founding slogan remains true today – Fast. Free. Easy.


Free Accounts are available for advisors and administrative staff at US colleges and universities. To get started using the Free Education Abroad Program Evaluation software that we call Abroad101, simply send an email to
support@abroad101.com or call us at +1-212-321-0928.


It is harder to study abroad than it is to get admitted to college

education and friendship concept - happy students giving high five at school

What’s wrong with this title?  Unfortunately it is state of study abroad in America today.  For all involved this is not an indictment to their intentions, rather the unfortunate state of the “industry.”  

If you are student, and you’ve encountered the maze of qualifications, pre-approvals and other barriers to study abroad, we feel your pain.  If you are feeling down, helpless there is hope – consider summer study abroad.

If you are an advisor, stuck behind a desk, wrangling with forms, clunky computer systems and byzantine procedures, we feel your pain.  We hope you will read Abroad101 CEO’s article on “How to Fix Study Abroad” and join efforts to make information simpler to navigate, more visible and easier to share.

If you are a study abroad administrator, or leader, we appeal to you to make study abroad more open, accessible and achievable.  In Europe, the Erasmus Program makes it very easy to attend a university in another country, and many do.  Mobility seems to be a key part of university administration and university life.  In the US, we are not making much progress and we hope you’ll take a few minutes, read “How to Fix Study Abroad” and work to make the little things simpler so that we can make the big things easier.

Abroad101 Advisors Newsletter – Fall 2015


We know it’s a hectic time of year, so we thank you for taking a few minutes to think about broader issues like using Abroad101 to advance study abroad on your campus.  As we begin our 9th year of serving American college study abroad, we continue to enhance the features, improve the directory content and bring innovation to the field.  Here’s how:

Abroad101 is Free Software

The Abroad101 software is online, “cloud based”, so you never to worry about updates or backing up your data.  Abroad101 is program evaluation software that gives your students the means to tell their story and share it with the world.  Unlike websites that grab quick sound byte testimonials, Abroad101’s “re-entry in a box” is designed to draw an insightful student expose of their time abroad.  When students take the time and effort to produce good work it becomes a point of pride AND social media.  As its own webpage you have now given the student a lasting testimonial of their time away and the resulting transformation.  These evaluations are great for future advising and orientations and great for the returning students.  The service is offered free to American colleges and universities, supported by advertising from program providers and foreign universities eager to reach future students.

Got Graphs? – Study Abroad Reporting

Abroad101 provides each university pie chart graphs showing how their students compare to Abroad101 averages.  The graphs show overall satisfaction with the education abroad experience plus ratings on Academics, Program Administration, Housing, Food, Social Integration, Health Care, Safety, and Cost of Living.  Take a screen shot, copy and paste these into presentation slides and impress your Provost!

Re-entry in 37 Questions (or more)

The standard evaluation/review is 37 questions, some Yes/No answers, some ratings and some open-ended essay prompts. The questions are designed and sequenced to guide a student through the entirety of their experience away, helping them be reflective, offer constructive criticism, list accomplishments and offer forward thinking statements.  The standard set allows for an apples-to-apples comparison both on the front end (website for future students, parents) and back-end (data for downloading and analyzing).  If you need more data points, Abroad101 allows additional “University Added Questions.”  These custom questions are not displayed to the public and can help you justify the Abroad101 platform as your official program evaluation tool and help to consolidate your student surveying. 

Reviews of Exchange Programs

Abroad101’s evaluation tool works great with third-party providers, faculty-led and exchange programs.  Each foreign university has a catch-all “Direct Enrollment & Exchange” listing where students from all over the country will submit reviews of direct enrollment, consortia exchanges or bi-lateral exchange programs, all through this one listing.  It’s a great place for your students to see the benefits of these programs and for students to share those with the world when they return.

The Abroad101 Pre-approved/Recommended Programs Feature

For universities who use a pre-approved programs list or recommend programs to their students, Abroad101 offers an easy way to show those choices to students searching on the site.  When a student logs in to Abroad101, they will see your recommendations highlighted with an approved icon.  They also have the option to view only the pre-approved programs in any directory or only view programs that have been reviewed by students from their home university.  The pre-approved programs are easy to manage using your account dashboard.  If you’d prefer we maintain them for you, simply email support@abroad101.com and identify the source of your approved programs list (web links, spreadsheet or other document) and our team will take care of this for you.

Summer and Faculty-led Programs

Abroad101 has over 4,500 faculty-led/university-run programs listed. Some universities use Abroad101 to manage those program evaluations/reviews and to draw future students.  We welcome the submission of programs that are either open to outside students or restricted to your own.   Managing these requires a free “providers” account on Abroad101, which you can request from support@abroad101.com.   You’ll still get the benefit of the apples-to-apples comparison of the resulting reviews, plus be able to engage students from other institutions. 

Abroad101 is a Free Directory, now with “Search by Subject”

Released earlier in the year, the Abroad101 Search by Subject directories are filling out nicely as the program providers update their listings and add their course areas.  This is a great tool for advisors as students who are looking for courses outside their major can come to Abroad101 and search from the more than 350 subject areas to find a program just for them: semester, summer or even shorter term: http://www.studyabroad101.com/subjects

Free Software from AbroadOffice

If you are looking for a cloud-based study abroad enrollment management system, we would invite you to consider AbroadOffice, free software from our sister company.  You use Abroad101 for the program evaluations, and AbroadOffice for the rest!  Learn more about AbroadOffice and schedule a web demo by visiting The Global Learning Cloud

Don’t Worry, We’re Here to help

Our company slogan remains: Fast. Free. Easy. We like to think that the system is self-explanatory and our processes are intuitive, but just in case, we’re here to help.  If you’d like a demo of the system or assistance in setting it up, don’t hesitate to contact us.  Support is Free too.

For those that don’t connect with us online, we look forward to meeting you at these upcoming conferences later in the semester: IIE Generation Study Abroad Summit, NAFSA Region XI, VIII and V.


Happy Fall!

Mark Shay







Providers Derby Results from Abroad101 – Summer 2015

ProviderReviews-Aug2015There are so many options for studying abroad, where do you turn? 

One of the most trusted methods for Americans to study abroad comes through third-party provider organizations who manage the entire experience.  At Abroad101 we collect program evaluation/reviews about these providers and publish them on our study abroad review website.  We also compile the ratings that students give the providers which you can use as an indicator of quality.  Review scores are one indicator, the number of reviews is another.

Organizations that encourage or even require their students to complete reviews understand the value of listening to their customers (students) and using that those testimonials to better inform future students as to what to expect in their programs.  Progressive providers also help students promote their own stories and success in education abroad by publishing their first hand accounts through a review.  As the old saying goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind” so we hope that you’ll use the reviews on Abroad101.com to better educate yourself on your options in education abroad.  

Twice a year we produce the Abroad101 Providers Derby – the index of published reviews on Abroad101 to give a sense as to who is making a difference in study abroad.  We encourage you to use this information to help you to make an educated choice for your education abroad.


  1. IES Abroad
  2. International Studies Abroad/ISA
  3. CIEE
  4. CEA
  5. Arcadia
  6. SIT Study Abroad
  7. IFSA-Butler
  8. DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia
  9. USAC
  10. API/Academic Programs International
  11. AIFS
  12. The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)
  13. Boston University
  14. SOL Education Abroad
  15. CAPA The Global Education Network
  16. ISEP Exchange
  17. CET Academic Programs
  18. CISabroad/Center for International Studies
  19. Fairfield University
  20. The School for Field Studies/SFS

Abroad101 Advisor Newsletter Summer 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webHappy Summer from Abroad101,

With students overseas or off-campus during the summer months, most study abroad offices are quiet, which gives staff a window to tackle some strategic projects.  We hope one of these projects will be deeper integration with the free tools and services offered by Abroad101.  In this newsletter we’ll provide some insight into the Abroad101 software and ways in which you might use it to advance study abroad on your campus.

Re-entry in a Box:

Before jumping into the nuts & bolts of the system, please take a minute to think about Abroad101 as a method/vehicle to guide student re-entry from their time away.  Some colleges use the Abroad101 system as their official program evaluation platform. 

The Abroad101 survey offers a review of the entire study away experience in ways that encourage the student to think and write reflectively while providing criticism and praise to multiple of aspects of their program.  Students have a chance to take responsibility for their actions, give a sense of who they were before they went and who they think they are now. 

While technically evaluating a program, ultimately the reviewer is offering a testimonial to their personal growth and achievement.  This in turn speaks as much to the success of a program as the star ratings that accompany their review.  Colleges can also add their own questions to the 37-question standard survey if they feel something more specific needs to be included in the evaluation.

Reviews Help Students/Parents Prepare for Study Abroad

Reviews are often used for a variety of reasons, including researching program selection and to help set expectations.  For future students and their families, the reviews from previous students provide good insight as to what to expect and situations to be aware of.  That’s why a number of advisors use Abroad101 reviews in pre-departure orientation exercises and we’ve even heard of some program managers using reviews as part of their arrival orientation (think first postings to new student Facebook groups.) 

With this in mind, adding links from your program webpages to Abroad101 program listings can help your study abroad community better prepare.  Abroad101 gives each program its own web page and we welcome your link to it.  Find the program here and copy the link for your website.

Another option is to link to your university profile that lists pre-approved/recommended programs and all the reviews generated by study abroad alumni from your university.  Every university has a profile on Abroad101 and you have the ability to update and manage it.  Use the search box at the top of any page on Abroad101 to find your university profile.  If you need access to this portal, please contact support@abroad101.com

Abroad101’s widgets allow content from the reviews to be displayed on your website.  We have a University Widget that works in conjunction with your pre-approved list and a Program Widget that creates a badge like graphic for a single program.  No contract or paperwork required, just use the tool, copy the code and install it on your website or as an addition to your own program search in your directory system.

Abroad101 Program Widget

Abroad101 University Widget

Connecting Reviews to your Enrollment or CRM System

We have been pushing to get Abroad101’s process of program evaluation and our set of questions as a standard part of everyone’s study abroad.  The students give us a lot of data that a growing number of institutions are using in their analysis and management of education abroad.   Abroad101 is set up to pass that data to you in several ways:

  1. “Graphs” tool in your account dashboard compares the scores of the individual ratings questions.  You can see how your students do against 24,000 other study abroad reviews. 
  2. “Export to Excel” function that creates a spreadsheet with all of the data collected in each review, including any custom fields that you have added.
  3. “API” is a computer system linkage that allows your system to dynamically pull the review in.  Your programmers use the unique API key and the review serial number to get the review pulled into your systems.

The Power of the Review Serial Number:

The Export and API functions are even more powerful when this data can get tied to the student’s account in your computer system.  Key to this linking is the Abroad101 review serial number.  Each Abroad101 review gets its own serial number and if you enter that serial number after “/reviews/” it will redirect to the full program link.  For a recent review, serial # 29619 can be viewed here http://www.studyabroad101.com/reviews/29619

If the advisor or the student enters the serial number into your student information system, you can forever refer to the review.  We recently posted an article with one creative way the serial number can be utilized in Terra Dotta Software and similar systems.

Review them all – Faculty-led, Exchange and Third-Party!

Abroad101 allows you to manage program evaluations for each type of study abroad program, or them all.  For example, Abroad101 has more than 1,700 foreign universities listed on the site, each with a catch-all listing for your outbound exchange students.  Through Abroad101 your students can review any of the 4,000 third-party programs or if you’d like, we can add your own to the 4,500 faculty-led/university-run programs in the directory.  University-run programs listed on Abroad101 even have the option to be listed as home-students-only which means they will be listed as closed to outside students, yet you get all the advantages of Abroad101’s reporting, data collection and the publishing tool for students to generate insightful, powerful and career-boosting testimonials of their experience abroad.  Since 2007, Abroad101 is Fast. Free. Easy.

It all Starts with an Invitation

To get any of these projects going, you do need reviews and the best way to get reviews is to invite or require your students to submit one.  It has been our experience that students won’t take the time to review a program unless told to do so.  You can encourage them, offer them incentive, insist a published testimonial will be a good jump start to their careers, or tell them it’s required, but tell them something to make these tools work for you.  Direct or link them to the program page on Abroad101 where they will find a “Write a Review” icon or have them start here: http://www.studyabroad101.com/reviews/new

Contact Us:

As the summer progresses we hope you won’t hesitate to contact us with any requests or questions.  We welcome the chance to present our system to you in a web demo or though a telephone conference call, please send those requests to support@abroad101.com.

Thanks for your referrals and support and best wishes for a Happy Summer!


Mark Shay

CEO / Abroad101




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Using Terra Dotta and Abroad101

terra dotta logoAbroad101.com write a reviewAbroad101-reviews-logo-web





If you use Terra Dotta software (TDS) to manage your study abroad enrollments, you can still use Abroad101 as your program evaluation tool.

While managing the full lifecycle of applications with Terra Dotta, Abroad 101 adds the ability to oversee the publishing of student reviews, summary reporting, and the ability to compare ratings from your students against those at other institutions.

Interested in learning how to add Abroad101 Reviews to your Terra Dotta software?

Please read the full article here: http://blog.studyabroad101.com/using-abroad101-with-terra-dotta-software/

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.


Generation Study Abroad

girl holding generation sab sign

Abroad101 has joined IIE’s Generation Study Abroad with the hopes of doubling the number of American students who go abroad.  The following article comes courtesy of IIE and hopefully brings more students and their parents to believe that study abroad is an essential part of the college experience.

Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad

We believe that study abroad should be an essential component of a college degree, however according to the Open Doors 2013 Report on International and Educational Exchange less than 10% of the 2.6 million graduates last year studied abroad. It’s time to make a change and give all students what they need to succeed in today’s interconnected world!

  1. Globalization is changing the way the world works. Employers increasingly seek workers who have both cross-cultural skills and cutting-edge technical skills.
  1. Competency in languages other than English is increasingly important. Today’s graduates are just as likely to work with people from Beijing and Bangalore as those from Boston or Boise, making the ability to work across cultures essential to success in all arenas.
  1. Study abroad opens students’ eyes to new ways of thinking, instilling a more informed approach to problem-solving in cross-cultural contexts.
  1. Many of the world’s most influential innovations are originating from the collaboration of cross-cultural teams, often located continents away.
  1. Study abroad has been shown to improve grades, boost confidence, and help with college graduation and retention rates.

#GenerationStudyAbroad | www.generationstudyabroad.org
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