Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Monika joined the APA team in 2016 and is the point-gal for all things pre-departure, marketing, and student outreach. Diehard Pittsburgh sports fan, total Francophile, aerial silk student, pretends she knows things about fancy craft beer.
What is your favorite travel memory?
When I arrived in Lyon, France for my study abroad back in the day, it was my first time traveling by myself. I was sad, homesick, alone, and luggage-less (my bags didn't make it on the plane with me!).
Rather than stay in my hotel room and mope (infinitely more depressing), I spent the day walking around the city, trying to get my bearings. I eventually found myself at the Rhone River and saw the Hôtel Dieu on the other bank with the basilica perched atop Fourvière Hill in the background. Seeing that beautiful sight for the first time on that cloudy, overcast day reaffirmed that I wasn't making a horrible life decision and that I had so much wonder and opportunity before me.
What makes this my favorite travel memory [now] is that I now LOVE traveling by myself! I've been to 5 countries and many more cities in the U.S. and abroad traveling solo. I'm entirely convinced that I would have never grown so much personally, without my time in Lyon.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I'm naturally a creature of routine and organization and in the world of study abroad, you can be certain to expect the unexpected! I'll probably always be a work in progress but my ability to adapt and roll with the punches has increased considerably.
I'm also super great at planning six months ahead now but, don't ask me what I'm cooking for dinner tonight.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
It's so fulfilling to hear stories of students who have had such a great experience in Paris, to continue their French for academic and professional goals.
We have had students return to France on Fulbright grants, for the TAPIF program (Teaching Assistant Program In France), and even to gain citizenship! Perhaps one of the coolest -- one of our alum is currently working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland as a Ph.D. student.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Paris will always have a hold on my heart! APA recently expanded with a summer program to Dakar, Senegal. Experiencing a completely new culture and section of the world would be such a treat!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
While the landscape of study abroad is evolving, for the vast majority of students, they will likely study abroad once in their undergraduate careers. Which makes choosing the right program so important! In study abroad we talk about immersion and cultures and language--it's all about human interaction! You will not find a more caring, sincere, knowledgeable, attentive team than at APA.
As I was at a study abroad fair this fall, we had a few alumni volunteer at our table. My colleague Lindsay casually mentioned that our Paris Assistant Director, Sophie, was going to be in town next month for a conference. They were so excited, it was like Lindsay said a celebrity was going to be there, their reaction. How are you supposed to properly convey that on a brochure?!
Whether it's talking with a student at 9 p.m. because she can't find a visa appointment or hearing about how one of my colleagues in Paris comforted a student after she missed her flight home, it's those little things that may seem trivial but make the world of difference.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Communication! One of the best pieces of advice I've heard is that "you can't change what you don't know". We listen to our students, ask for feedback from our affiliate institutions, and are constantly in contact with our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic.