Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Lyden

Why did I decide to travel abroad with ESAC?

Melissa: I always knew that I wanted to go to Prague and it is now a place that holds a piece of my heart. I've returned to visit twice since completing the ESAC program and know that it is a place that I will return to many times throughout my life. Kristine and David (the owners of ESAC) diligently worked to create a program that focuses on learning about Czech culture and having fun in Prague. They select professors that will do the very best job in creating a curriculum that is as hands on as possible. When people ask me questions about deciding on a study abroad program, I recommend Prague for a number of reasons. It is important to take into consideration that the exchange rate is favorable, you can get by with knowing little or no Czech (and using basic manners and common courtesy), the city has a to die for ambiance, rich culture and vibrant nightlife. Every young person should spend at least a little bit of their early 20s in Prague!

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

Melissa: Some of the other ESAC participants have become my lifelong friends! Since our return from Prague two years ago, I have had a lot of fun with the new friends I made. My roommate in Prague, Meagan, and I lived together our senior year at Virginia Tech. Sarah Jean and I have created adventures and lasting memories in various cities. Jake and I met up in Paris and were lucky enough to travel together again! These friendships would not have been possible without the trust Kristine and David imparted to their students. They give you enough independence to explore and travel on your own, but are there to assist with anything you may need.

Taking a break from studying for a weekend trip to nearby Vienna!

How has this experience impacted your future?

Melissa: I first discovered my love of wine during the summer I spent in Prague. This sent me on a path that ultimately led me to my exciting career in the wine industry. Additionally, studying abroad impacted my personal life in many positive ways. I learned the importance of being adaptable, especially when you are in a place where you do not speak the native language (I always joke to my friends when we are traveling to a new place in the US that it should be fairly simple since the signs are in English). The only downside to the program is that you will be extremely heartsick upon your return home, and should start immediately saving your money for another trip in the future!