I initially became interested in the Live Different Academy program as a friend attended the program in a past year. I was able to see her social media posts of the program and eventually as a full-time representative of the organization. I was interested in traveling, but wanted to be culturally immersed and have a deeper purpose to my time spent abroad. Live Different's longer 13 week Academy program also appealed to me as I wanted to travel for an extended amount of time.
Alumni Spotlight: Chelsey Schiller
Chelsey is a 22 year old humanitarian at heart. From her profession to her experience with Live Different, she lives to help others in any way she can and finds this the greatest life reward.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Live Different was very efficient and organized when it came time to apply for the Academy program. I applied very late, but they were still able to answer all my questions, send me information booklets and forms, and keep me posted on what they needed from me. Through this process, they were very personable and always made sure all of my questions were answered.
Live Different organized the schedule of the program and all accommodations. I was required to complete forms, book my own flights, and submit separate tuition and charity payments. My biggest responsibility was to fundraise the charity portion payment of the program, which was very successful with the help of family and friends.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
My best advice to anyone looking to attend a program aboard is to listen to the voice telling you to go for it. Leading up to my acceptance and attendance, I had moments of excitement and stronger moments of being nervous and scared. I ignored the negative and pushed myself out of my comfort zone- and I'm so grateful I did!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Live Different always keeps things interesting! The program year to year will slightly change, because of improvements and adjustments from past years. The schedule will also change based on the group's interests and wants. Generally, throughout your time spent there, you'll volunteer and serve at various local charities/organizations.
You'll participate in a home build for a family in need! You will be immersed in the culture in many ways such as spending time with host families and even spending "A Week In The Life" of a Mexican immigrant worker. And you'll take part in excursions and other activities. It's best to check with the organizers for a more specific schedule but also go into the program with an open mind to any possibility.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was being uncomfortable with living abroad for over 3 months. I had never traveled for that long before and I was unsure I could "make it through". Again, I listened to the voice in my head saying to go for it and that it would be an amazing experience. If this is something that fears you, know that there is always an option to go home if required. Live Different representatives offer a strong support system and will help you to feel comfortable in every way possible; even through the hardest times!
What were your living conditions like?
Live Different has a gated compound on site with a few different houses and buildings. The main house consists of large bedrooms filled with bunk beds. All blankets and linens are provided. The house has a large kitchen and common area to relax in. Although you'll be living with a group, there are opportunities and areas to get time to yourself if needed and this is respected. Like anywhere, a new place can be nerve-racking, but once you're unpacked and settled in you'll feel comfortable and it might even start to feel like home!