Stories shared from Current Students & Professionals
In 2011, at the age of 18, I spent a year living in Taichung, Taiwan and attending a Taiwanese high school. I wanted to study in Taiwan because I knew the experience and culture would be radically different, for better or for worse, from my hometown in the United States, and I wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese. I couldn't have made a better choice-- I'm actually back in Taiwan for my second study abroad experience, this time as a university student. Taiwan is an incredible place to study abroad! The people are extremely welcoming and friendly, and the country is absolutely gorgeous. As a tiny island, Taiwan is very convenient for traveling and it's possible to see anything you'd like to, from the mountains to the beaches. On top of that, Taiwanese people themselves are very active and like to do things, so besides the typical things for tourists to see and do, there are often odd and out of the way places to visit such as a cat village or a ghost-themed town. I can hardly get started on Taiwanese food. It's amazing. Taiwanese cuisine is heavily influenced by typical Chinese fare but has its own unique flavor. Taiwan also does street food unlike any other country in the world. The night markets are something every person needs to see once in their life. All in all, I can't rave enough about how incredible of a country Taiwan is to study abroad in. I love this little island.
A few years ago, I was a junior-year-abroad exchange student in Freiburg, Germany. I had been an AFS summer exchange student to Germany a few years before, and for my study-abroad experience in college, I felt that I really needed to go for the entire year. The highlight of my experience was working on weekends in a Black Forest cuckoo-clock store, selling German gifts and trinkets to American tourists. It was here that I learned business German and it inspired me to have a career in international business. After college I went back to Germany and worked for 3 years, and I have been crossing the pond ever since. Today, I’m the Savvy Navigator and I help Americans plan their dream trips abroad, by connecting them with specialty tour operators and agents around the world in places like South Africa, India, New Zealand, Argentina, and more!
Paige is the founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a global marketing firm she started 14 years ago. She is based in Cambridge, MA and her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times, Colgate, as well as nonprofits and venture-backed startups. Paige is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School. She sits on several boards and is a popular speaker at industry events and conferences. This is her story:
I was an exchange student in both high school and college. I lived with a family in southeast France for several months during my junior year of high school and on campus in Florence, Italy as part of my junior year in college. These experiences were both incredibly special and started my life long love affair with both France & Italy. I am still in contact with the family I lived with and returned for several of my sisters¹ weddings and have visited friends in both countries many times over the years since.
When my husband and I were dating we took a trip to France and Italy because I knew I could not be serious with someone long term if he did not want to travel there with me and in fact he passed the test with flying colors. My friends and family in Europe agreed he was a keeper. I speak both French and Italian and try to keep up my language skills as much as possible. My niece will be studying in Italy next year for half of her junior year in high school so the tradition continues! I am so grateful for the experience, it has enriched my life in so many ways.
Professor Sherridan Schwartz
As part of my graduate international policy study, I traveled with Texas Southern University’s eMPA program on Study Abroad to Ghana, West Africa and particularly to the historic Elmira Castle, a former fort and slave trading post located on the coast.
Although I have traveled abroad to 5 continents, this trip – especially to the see the pre-colonial slave quarters, the slave cells and holding areas, and the “Door of No Return” (which is where most of the slaves held there exited to the New World), was transformative. Visiting this well-preserved UNESCO historic site underscored my personal determination to never forget the savagery, history, and legacy of slavery. Every single visitor on my trip to Elmina was moved – many of them to tears – by the solemnity and gravity of the place and of the trip there. I try to impart this first-hand knowledge about the claustrophobic and inhumane conditions the slaves endured, in my teachings.
In fact, the Elmina, Ghana trip moved me so much, that later as a University administrator and professor, I work with both Study Abroad and International Exchange programs – now ensuring that other students have the opportunity to see other worlds, and to allow international students the chance to come and study here in the United States.
We Thank All Those Who Provided Us With Their Experiences!