We caught up with two-time AIFS participant, Andrea, who spent back-to-back Spring semesters studying and interning in Granada, Spain. Andrea’s life was impacted so greatly by her international education experiences that she has gone on to pursue a career in the industry. Read more about her story:
How has your study abroad experience impacted your educational goals and career?
My experience began studying abroad, but quickly evolved into a career. I was fortunate to become an intern at both my home university in the International Affairs Office, and during my time abroad with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS).
While I was abroad, I was able to capture my travel experience and share it with my fellow classmates back in the United States, naturally creating a marketing technique that helped me promote the my home school’s International Affairs department. I assisted in all student outreach events and created all marketing material for education abroad opportunities. I implemented a newsletter regarding study abroad events, reminders, and world news events. My social media marketing skills developed through this time as well.
After my first time abroad in Granada, Spain, I quickly returned to study abroad there again. I became the intern in the AIFS Granada office in 2012. I coordinated this unique opportunity with the help of the director for Granada’s AIFS office. I helped promote host families by visiting their homes and following up on social media, showcasing families through photography and blogging.
A major focus during this time was to prepare for student arrivals. I also worked with the office to prepare for new students and arrange tours. Together, we created student outreach events and held a major company event that brought AIFS Resident Directors around the world to Granada.
My study abroad opportunities allowed me to move forward in my professional career beyond my degree. I worked at Kaplan International for a year in Philadelphia. Kaplan works with International Students traveling to the United States to learn English. This was a special opportunity for me to connect with students from all over the world.
Once I moved out of Philadelphia, I began an adventure traveling the United States. I traveled throughout the U.S. for almost two years. Soon after, I began working for Cornell University, which is where I currently work. I am the Program Office Assistant in the Study Abroad Department – Cornell Abroad. Study abroad is truly my passion – and this passion will continue to grow throughout my career.
How has your study abroad experience impacted other areas of your life?
Study abroad has impacted my life in more ways than I can count. I think about my travels abroad almost daily — working in study abroad allows for me to constantly reflect on my time overseas. I certainly think about where I want to travel (the list is never-ending) every day as well. Study abroad helped me with my personal growth, my perspective on the world, and has certainly shaped the person I am today.
Have you been back to your study abroad location since your time abroad?
I have not yet, however I have a personal goal to get back to Granada by 2020.
Are you still in contact with other students or anyone you met during your time abroad?
Absolutely. I have many Facebook friends from the two times I went abroad. I am also in contact with my Resident Director, Paula, whom I share a great relationship with.
Are there any activities or traditions from your time abroad that you have continued back in the US?
I still drink Moroccan tea out of my tea cups that I purchased at As-Sirat (Teteria-Andalusi) in Placeta de la Charca. My house is adorned with all of my treasures from abroad. Every desk I’ve had at my job always requires a photo of The Alhambra.
What are your top destinations for future travel?
I would love to travel to Nepal and Tibet, multiple places in Vietnam, Taiwan, multiple places in India, Patagonia, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and back to Ireland! And of course, my heart belongs to Granada.
Any advice for students who are considering studying abroad?
It’s worth any sort of bump in the road. It’s worth the planning, the finance adjustments. Anything that looks like a problem is simply grain of salt.
Any advice for recently returned study abroad students?
To stay global. Work global. Read global. Eat global. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you can’t live globally.
This post was contributed by Andrea Durmiaki, who studied abroad in the spring of 2012 and 2013 with AIFS in Granada, Spain.