What is your favorite travel memory?
When I studied abroad in Spain, I intentionally limited my personal travel to stay in Granada and practice my Spanish as much as possible. I did, however, make two major week-long trips outside of Andalucía that semester: Morocco and Vienna—both of which include some of my favorite travel memories!
If I had to pick only one favorite travel memory, it would be a seemingly mundane day toward the end of my stay in Vienna. My then boyfriend and I had traveled to Vienna on a slim budget with minimal German and no plans. We spent an entire day just wandering the city making our way from one restaurant recommendation to the next. I remember that it was particularly cold, I didn’t have a warm enough coat, and both of us were under the weather—yet somehow it became one of my favorite days of my entire study abroad experience. We stumbled upon amazing architecture, found photo booths, stopped in chocolate shops, talked to strangers, and simply enjoyed getting lost with nowhere to be other than where we already were.
I think that opportunity to lose yourself in the moment is one of the best aspects of study abroad.
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
As an IES Abroad alumna I’m biased, and will always recommend Granada for study abroad! That said, I work closely with our Italy programs, and have to admit that I’ve developed a major crush on Siena. As a smaller, less-known city in Tuscany, we affectionately refer to Siena as Italy’s best kept secret. I’m attracted to the charm and beauty of the region, the deep-rooted and ever-present history of Siena, as well as our programming—who wouldn’t want to study the Business & Economics of Italian Food & Wine!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
With the marketing team at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a wide range of technical digital marketing skills—from e-mail marketing and search engine optimization to photo editing and social media—not to mention that I’ve also grown quite a bit personally and professionally.
Being a marketer requires an empathetic mindset, which is all the more relevant to those of us who have experienced an IES Abroad program first-hand. Since working at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a different understanding of and respect for my time in Granada, and how it continues to affect my life years after I’ve returned.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
I’m driven by IES Abroad’s dedication to our students. We work here because we believe in what we do, and we’re here with one goal: to ensure that each of our students has the highest quality study and intern abroad experience possible. That seemingly simple sentiment resonates through everything we do—marketing, advising, teaching, mentoring—and it’s both humbling and inspiring to work at a study abroad company that prioritizes the students over anything else.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
In part of my role as the Digital Marketing Coordinator, I manage our student blogging program. Each day I get to read personal accounts of what our students are experiencing across the world right now. They’re insightful, they’re heartwarming, they remind me of what it is we are doing for these students, and they often they make me laugh! Our student bloggers are incredibly talented, and they’re having these life-changing experiences that I feel so lucky to be a part of.
One of my favorite posts from this semester was from a Dublin blogger, Kaylie (Knox College), titled On the Shoe. Kaylie has a way with words that makes her posts both deeply profound and easy to read. In this particular post, she talked about the level of self-awareness you develop when you’re in a new place and feeling as though you stand out. I remember her comparing it to the middle-school-desire-to-be-cool that never really goes away. It’s a must-read!