We kick off our series introducing the CFL team with Karen Winslow, Systems Coordinator, based in our Stamford, CT office. Karen has been with AIFS for 40 years, working with hundreds of students each year as they complete their applications and begin their study abroad journey.
What do you do for AIFS?
I maintain the participant database and set up our online enrollment forms. Work closely with participants after they apply to a program, answer questions and help them navigate the student portal. In addition, provide program invoices, and liaison with our Travel Department and staff abroad.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with so many people (staff abroad, college coordinators, faculty, and participants).
What do you love most about working for AIFS?
The people I work with are at the top of the list. I enjoy busy work and there is so much involved in arranging study abroad programs. Additionally, I enjoy the opportunity to visit the sites and places where we offer programs.
What do you like most about working with faculty and students?
I enjoy working with groups (shared experience that includes a faculty/program leader and participants). It is exciting to hear the enthusiasm whether in an email or phone call.
Where and when did you study or work abroad?
England – In 1988 I visited the AIFS London Office and met with staff, traveled everywhere on the Tube/Underground and saw many amazing sites; joined a British Life and Culture class on a day trip to Greenwich, England. Ended my trip renting a car and driving to Salisbury and through the countryside of Wales.
Any advice for faculty thinking of leading a CFL program abroad?
The AIFS Program Manager abroad will work closely with Faculty/Coordinators as they plan/prepare a program (they will communicate first-hand experience). Try to be as flexible as possible.
Any advice for students thinking of studying abroad?
Studying/traveling abroad is a life-changing experience. A lot of time and effort goes into planning the experience abroad. Please adhere to program deadlines and share program information with family and friends who might be helping you with the process. Please be flexible and try not to compare everything that you are accustomed to.
Tell us something about yourself:
I enjoy cycling, hiking, skiing, reading, gardening, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Where do you plan to travel to next? Why?
Italy and the Amalfi Coast, and eventually to Reykjavik, Iceland.
Tell us a favorite travel story.
Several years ago, I went to London to meet with colleagues. It is always nice to put a face with a name that I am so accustomed to emailing. I had a wonderful time meeting with staff, seeing a show, eating in a pub, and riding the tube to see my favorite sites. Then we drove to Oxford to visit one of our programs. My birthday fell during the time I was traveling. Not thinking much of it, I figured I would celebrate with family and friends when I returned home. I was pleasantly surprised when my colleagues took me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. Made the trip so much more memorable.
A book or movie that inspired you to travel?
One movie that always inspires me to want to travel is ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.’
Tell us your dream trip with an unlimited budget:
I’d like to travel across a whole continent, maybe South America. Getting trains/buses and seeing all those amazing countries from the ground level, and trying all the different foods. I’m not a ritzy person so I’d probably just stay in pretty standard accommodation but the money would be good for getting stocked up on snacks.