Tag Archives: study abroad


Networking 101: An Essential Tool for College & Study Abroad Students

(photo by: jeln.org)

College students have a lot of juggling to do. There are classes to attend, hundreds of pages to be read at any given moment in time, projects, research papers and exams, as well as figuring out what the heck you’re going to eat for your next meal, and figuring out a study abroad to name a few. But what if I were to tell you that there’s another important component of the collegiate juggling act, too? One that’s equally important, yet often gets overlooked. It’s called networking. (And no, just because you’re on Facebook doesn’t mean you’ve got that one covered.)

It unlikely future employers are going to come to you; you’ll have to go looking for them. According to a report from ABC News, 80% of today’s jobs are found through networking. (http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/80-of-today-s-jobs-are-landed-through-networking) Two good reasons why it makes sense to start growing relationships now, so that they’re established once you graduate and transition to the working world. This is just one more advantage of studying abroad.  You’ll have the opportunity to network abroad as well.

Let’s take a look at the following tips for getting started.     

Network with other students in your major and/or areas of interest. It may seem obvious, but for many students this is challenging in and of itself. Maybe you find it difficult just to break out of the comfort of your routine with classes and studying, or maybe you have a small circle of friends you spend most of your free time with. Try to introduce yourself to others outside your circle. Strike up conversation with fellow classmates- both native speakers and those in your program. Chances are you’ll have a lot to talk about if you’re studying the same thing. Stay connected to one another after classes end. Share information and resources.

Visit the Career Services Center at your home and host university. The Career Services Center is a valuable resource for all students. Learn how to build a better resume, practice your interviewing skills, and research job opportunities both abroad and at home. It’s also a great place to find out about networking opportunities in which students and alumni connect, on campus recruiting events, and job fairs. Take advantage of all of the services available to make helpful contacts.    

map(photo by: www.ttuhsc.edu)

Participate in campus activities and organizations. Find out what activities and organizations your host university has before you decide which one(s) are right for you. Join the student chapter of the professional organization in your field if there is one. The more involved you are, the more people you’ll meet and connect with, and more you can grow your network. It’ll help you break of your bubble, improve your skills, and maybe even develop new ones- all of which are potential resume builders in the very least. To read more about getting involved on campus visit http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/twice-the-college-advice/2011/09/13/5-reasons-for-getting-involved-in-college-and-how-to-go-about-it.

­­Set up a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is designed for professional networking, but it also allows students with limited professional experience to highlight their academic successes and achievements as well as strengthen their existing network. On LinkedIn, users can conduct research on companies they may be interested in working for, join groups related to their areas of study and participate in group discussions, keep up on relevant industry information, and connect with recruiters.

LinkedInAudit(photo by: www.forbes.com)

Build upon the experience you have. Have you done any volunteer work? A work-study? Do you have a part-time job or have you had a summer job? A paid or unpaid internship?   Do you have a good relationship with your supervisor? Connect, stay in touch, and don’t be shy about asking for recommendations for your LinkedIn profile. Look at each of these experiences as an opportunity to build your network.

Reach out to established professionals in your field. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, or to ask what the advantages and disadvantages to a particular career are. Networking while you’re still in college has a big advantage; there’s no pressure on the person you’re reaching out to since you aren’t looking for employment just yet. Not sure where to begin? Start with alumni. They’ll be glad to offer career assistance.

Don’t overlook your parents’ (and host parents’) friends, and your friends’ parents as potential connections. Like alumni, this is another subculture of people who genuinely want to see you succeed. They have decades’ worth of experience, which also means they’re probably well connected. And you never know who they might be able to put you in touch with.


(photo by: www.huffingtonpost.com)

Talent, ambition and a solid education are all essential for career success, but it’s clear you also have to know people. There are a lot of great opportunities that you’ll hear about only because of who you know. So be proactive. Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. If you find someone doesn’t want to connect, don’t worry. Just move on. The added bonus is that in no time, you’ll be building your confidence, too.


Julie Kemeklis

Julie Kemeklis is a freelance writer and language teacher from West Windsor, NJ who writes on a range of topics including travel & culture, and family & parenting. She studied abroad in Costa Rica as an undergraduate student, and received her MA from the University of Georgia’s Department of Romance Languages with a concentration in Spanish literature.

Twenty in Paris is not a typical study abroad blog


How many study abroad blogs / books will tell you that? Not enough! – Quote from ebook Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris

I am in love with Melibee Global and its blog which are dedicated to elevating the discussion about education abroad, culture, and diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing tools, speakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities.

What a perfect mission statement, right?

One of the first blogs on their website that caught my eye was about IIE’s (a study abroad program) new initiative called “generation study abroad” where the goal appears to just be about increasing the number of students going abroad. Check out that article here http://www.melibeeglobal.com/2014/05/generation-study-abroad-bold-or-harmful/

However, the article that really spoke to me was “Are study abroad blogs ruining the field?”. In the past few years since I studied abroad, study abroad blogs are popping up all over the place and in more mainstream places, too. The author of this exposé is spot on when she said “These [study abroad] posts are meant to be silly, fun reads that are geared towards 20-year-olds about travel. Some of these articles do include good information. But it is mostly information on travel, accommodation, shopping, or food; rarely anything about academics in another country, cultural immersion, or topics of re-entry, mental health, and other not-so-glamorous aspects of studying abroad. These mainstream articles often take creative approaches and do generally help promote and make study abroad seem more accessible to interested students. But could they be doing more harm than we can initially see? ”

The answer is yes! Blogs like these (no name calling out but they are out there) contribute to the romantic notion that studying abroad is this magical partying time where you travel and only have lots of fun. That studying and the immersion into another culture and language are merely things that you do once in a while between parties and jet-setting. It’s not that websites/people like Melibee and Twenty in Paris are trying to deter you from studying abroad; we’re trying to steer you clear of the hype and better prepare you by showing the whole study abroad picture: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

As a student, I bought the study abroad hype so much so that I thought Paris was going to be magical and perfect from day one. I was not prepared for the cultural, linguistic and academic hurdles that awaited me in Paris. And looking at the popular study abroad blogs today, is it any wonder that a student would go abroad with these unrealistic expectations? So whose job is it to prepare you for studying abroad and to help you see through the smoke screen which are typical study abroad blogs? I believe that it is you, the student, and the study abroad program. Most students primarily get their information on studying abroad from their program before seeking outside sources like these unrealistically happy blogs. Study abroad programs are the first and constant source of information for students to find out the in and outs of studying abroad and how it will impact their college career. Students need the abroad office’s experience to tell them what to expect or useful resources (like blogs or books) that will provide information on the experience/ transition and immersion into life and college abroad. As college students and adults, it is your job to make sure that you are finding out this information or asking where you can find it. At the end of the day it is you going abroad, not your study abroad program director.

Studying abroad is gaining more exposure now than it ever has before but is more always better? Melibee and Twenty in Paris agree that more students going abroad isn’t necessarily better, especially when they haven’t been prepared for the actual academic and cultural experiences. More preparation and focus on these academic and cultural differences is what needs to increase for study abroad students. Studying abroad is a major change in a college student’s life which needs serious blogs/ books and programs to support them and show them the whole picture. Typical study abroad blogs are fun but they are not sufficient preparation for the study abroad experience.


Top 10 Reasons Why I love Studying Abroad in Paris

1. Paris in the spring.



2. Major holidays are not an opportunity to go shopping; rather an opportunity to spend time with friends, family and loved ones. Or if you’re all alone, a great time to walk around the city and explore. Coming from a country where we have sold the meaning of everything, it is refreshing to be among people who still value the meaning of the word holiday.



3. Eating isn’t just a necessity; it’s a pleasure and in Paris you can get real fresh, real good food with more tastes than you’ve ever experienced (if you’re coming from the USA) on any budget and in modern (supermarket) or traditional (street) markets.636-01324714


4. Education is a privilege, not a right. French students do not do any of the distracting activities during class that is typically seen in American classrooms. Such a pleasure to be class and not have the student in front me eating a noxious smelling plate of nachos while talking on their phone in his/her PJ bottoms.



5. The French do not wear slacks. I never saw anyone wear any sweats in public (although you will see Uggs-ewww! ), PJs or women in curlers.



6. An appreciation for the little things in life. The French know how to stop and smell the roses. As an American, this took time to get used to but I have learned to really appreciate life and the simple things like the yummy aroma of a good meal filling the house, eating a good meal with a loved one/good company, good conversation, and sitting in a park outside in the sun just to name a few. As Americans we are go, go go. I know that I walk fast as I want to get to my destination but it is good to walk a little slower sometimes and savor that you are in the most beautiful city on Earth for more than a week.



7. An improvement in French skills. I didn’t become fluent studying abroad for 10 months but I became pretty darn tootin’ good and with a charming Anglophone accent to boot.



8. Cimetière Montparnasse, the Louvre musée, Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde and Rue de Rivoli in this area. Absolutely breathtaking!


(Louvre musée – me)

9. Paris at night



10. Pâté en croûte from Monoprix; small, human sized radishes (compared with the mutant ones in the USA); fresh bread with cheese; salmon on blini with fresh cream; Picard’s frozen lentil, veggie and lardon dish- yum!


(Pâté en croûte – www.acuisiner.com)



How to dress the part when studying abroad

(all photos courtesy of Andrea; Mireille is Andrea’s mannequin)

*** Top photo is a no- no; If you wear a large and in charge hat like this in Europe to go to the grocery store or class, you’ll just get curious looks instead of compliments***

Spending time abroad, you’ll find yourself going through a style evolution. You’ll start to incorporate some elements of the host country into your wardrobe. If you study abroad in Europe, you’ll see that scarves and hats are a popular clothing accessory for both men and women. It’s easy to see why they are. They can be functional (i.e. keep you warm when it’s cold) as well as fashionable (i.e. be perfect accessory to your outfit). But most importantly, dressing like the locals will help you to immerse into the study abroad experience by embracing the culture. Clothes are not merely a means to keep warm and protect the body; they also express the values, beliefs, and culture of a group of people (and that is not limited to nationality). Our physical presentation can tell people what kind of music we like, what religion we belong to, as well as what country we come from. A great way to immerse yourself into the culture before you leave to go study abroad is to start dressing like the people in the host country.

In this post, we’ll cover Europe as it is where I studied abroad as well as is a popular destination for many American students. Mireille le mannequin models for us some perfect examples of how to dress like a European.

How to dress like a European (slideshow)

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Andrea illustrates how not to dress like a European

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So what are you waiting for? Open the door to study abroad success by starting to dress like the locals.