Alumni Spotlight: Kayla Joosse


Kayla is a senior at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Finance. She has wanted to study abroad for as long as she can remember, and chose a program in Prague, Czech Republic.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Prague for a couple of reasons. The main reason for me was because I had a friend who lived in Prague. I wanted to see her, but I didn't know anything about Prague and wasn't sure if I would like it.

When people think about studying abroad, they usually think about choosing glamorous cities like Paris, Rome, or Barcelona. I felt that I would be missing out by not choosing one of these large hubs, and was torn in my decision. Ultimately, I realized that with the centrality of the country, it would be easy to travel almost anywhere, so I decided to stick to my decision.

Another factor that really played into my decision was money. This program itself was one of the cheapest, and the cost of living was very cheap. I was able to spend three days in Rome, and I spent as much there as I probably did in two weeks in Prague. Tourist cities are fun, but come with a hefty cost.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program helped with the big stuff, such as getting a visa and getting into the school. At first I was unaware of that and tried to apply to the school on my own. I was very stressed and confused, but when I emailed the coordinator she said they took care of it. Though it may not seem like it, this is a huge burden off of an applicant's shoulders.

When I received the visa instructions, it looked overwhelming and confusing, but after reading everything carefully, it wasn't that hard.

I didn't have to organize much. They take care of everything for lodging, and they even provided me with videos on packing to help master the challenge. All I had to organize on my own was my plane tickets.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't try to plan everything in advance. Instead be able to go with the flow and take anything that comes your way. Definitely make a list of places you want to travel to, as well as research the area and find things to do. That being said, I think I speak for everyone when I say nothing goes as planned.

I had a select few places I wanted to travel to, and planned to find people who wanted to go to these places. Instead, I ended up finding a group of people to travel with and went wherever the group decided to go.

Truth is, I went to some random countries I never thought I would care to see, like Poland, Croatia, and Slovenia. I can tell you that no matter where you go, it will likely still be amazing and fun.

You are traveling in a new country with a group of friends - it isn't the location that's important, it's the experience. So be flexible and go with the flow.

I didn't anticipate wanting to travel to 14 hours to a country that wasn't on my must-see list. By the end of the program, it ended up being one of my favorite trips I have been on. Take it as it comes and you'll be sure to have fun.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Class schedules are a little bit different than how it works in America. Instead of Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and Tuesday/Thursday classes, each class lasts for a longer block of time once per week.

Though it may be painful to sit through a three-hour lecture, in the long run I believe it's better. There are typically have two days off, and everyone has Fridays off automatically. Depending on how the schedule works out, there's likely one extra day off.

On Tuesday's, the school hosts Nations to Nations, which is a party at a different club every week. Most people go to this, especially in the beginning. On weekends, most people were gone traveling.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

To be honest I didn't have too many fears going into it, as this is something I have wanted to do since the third grade. I am very adventurous and outgoing, so I didn't have a lot of anxiety. However, a few days before the trip I started to get worried.

Traveling alone without phone data can be somewhat nerve wracking. But I just took it as it came, and ultimately ended up where I was supposed to.

The more I traveled throughout my time there, the more independent I felt. I made lots of mistakes, including forgetting my passport and getting stuck in another country, but as crazy as it sounds, I just took a deep breath and laughed it off.

Things are going to go wrong and you are bound to mess up a lot, especially if this is your first time traveling abroad. Just realize that no matter what happens, you will make it home eventually. So take every negative thing and turn it into a funny memory. Don't let fear keep you from doing things you will regret not doing once it's over.

Would you recommend traveling every weekend?

No. Though it's cheap and you will quickly discover that you can see lots of cool places for low costs, I would recommend staying in Prague at least a few weekends.

I will say that I traveled a lot and got to see 7 countries while still staying back about 5 weekends. I think you definitely should take advantage of the time and low costs, because traveling will make your experience so much richer. But if you leave every single weekend, you won't get to immerse yourself in Prague and it won't feel like you are actually living there, and by the end you will have some regrets.

Enjoy traveling, but enjoy where you are too, because although it is your "home," it is all temporary. Enjoy everything while you can.