Why did you pick this program?
I picked this program because I didn't want to have a traditional study abroad experience. I wanted to experience Greece like a local. So I was really drawn to IPSL's immersive focus. Additionally since I knew I wanted to pursue something related to animals I found their hands on service element at the farm to be exactly what I was looking for in allowing me to pursue my passions while abroad. And the experience has served me well, since adding this experience to my resume I've been able to enter my field of choice by standing out with my life experience. I don't think I would have had as much success otherwise.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Do it! You won't regret it. The thing about study abroad is that is so much more then just a semester or summer in another place. The lessons I've learned from my experience are still unfolding even a year later.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take risks and be brave! You've already made the leap to live abroad, now embrace it. When you are abroad it's not the time to close yourself off to new experiences. Make new friends, get lost in a new city, dive into the service you are doing. The more you open up to new things the greater your experience will be.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
I don't particularly have one moment that I cherish above the rest. There were so many good ones! But one of my favorite parts of my time there was getting to learn about Greece's agriculture policies from the farmers I served with. We would work all morning long on the dairy farm and around 2 pm near the hottest part of the day we would all take a break and sit in the shade and drink frappes, which are frothy, sweet instant coffee drinks. We would talk about their lives and how the policies of the government affected their work. I learned more in those afternoon coffee breaks about Greek culture and government than in any course that I took.
Why do service while abroad?
Service is a great way to get more out of your experience. But make sure you are really thinking about your intentions behind why you are doing service. Make sure to check your privilege at the door and throughly investigate whatever service provider you are working with. If you decide to pursue service abroad remember that you are there to meet the communities needs, wherever they are at and don't try to push your own ideas on a culture or situation you might not throughly understand.