Alumni Spotlight: Tate Fowler


Tate is a 21 year old, female student at the University of San Diego studying biology who is originally from Big Lake, Minnesota. When she is not studying, Tate works as the Assistant Camp Director for a YMCA Day Camp and also as a server at a local restaurant.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Tate: There isn’t an a day that goes by that I am not thankful for the wonderful abroad experience that IES provided me and it has really started to make my wheels turn about where I see myself in the future now. I remember the last thing I said to myself as I sadly sat down in my seat on the plane to fly back to the States and it was “I will see you again soon Germany.”

After living in Germany for 4 short months, I came to the realization that attending medical school wasn’t what I wanted to do and that I absolutely needed to continue to travel and explore the world in order to keep growing as a person and expand my cultural knowledge and sensitivity. I now see myself potentially working and living over in Europe and will do anything to make this dream happen!

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Tate: The fact that the IES Abroad: European Union program planned several week long academic trips to various cities and countries around Europe is a major positive about this program in particular. I was able to travel to Berlin, Prague, Strasburg, Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Athens, Bucharest, Sofia, Switzerland and several other smaller cities surrounding Freiburg all because of IES planning.

This is a very unique quality for a study abroad program to have and I even heard from multiple of my friends that were studying abroad during the same time as me just in different cities and with different programs of how lucky I was to be in such an organized program that promotes its students to travel!

Another very special aspect of my study abroad experience was that the city I lived in named Freiburg was a medium size German college town. It was not some huge cosmopolitan city that would swallow me up but instead I really got to know the town and some of the locals during my experience abroad, which I am so happy to have that chance!

Did you forget to pack something important? Did you feel as if you were missing something?

Tate: This is such a wonderful study abroad pre–departure question that is so important! PACK LIGHTLY. I can’t say that enough! As a female, it is my instinct to over pack because who knows I “might” need it or “what if they don’t have it there?” Wrong and wrong again.

Depending on where you personally choose to study abroad most places will have something very similar to that item you think you “have” to pack or if not you really learn to survive without it for a few months. I ended up leaving behind so many things before I flew back to the States because I realized I didn’t use them a single time while abroad so why would I use them back home?

Use good judgment and pack your necessities of course but the less you bring, the less you have to haul around airports, trains, buses, cabs, upstairs, or downstairs in new countries you are trying to navigate that speak a language you might not understand in the slightest!

If I could do-over one thing, what would it be?

Tate: This is my only regret about my study abroad experience that I did not take every free weekend and take that opportunity to travel to a new city or country. I wish I would have sat down with my friends that 1st weekend of being in Germany and planned out a trip for every weekend then on. Once a person catches the travel bug it is so hard to get rid of it!

Even though I was so lucky to have been able to travel to 10 countries in 4 months there were still many places on my checklist I was unable to explore because of poor planning on my behalf. Take advantage of the relatively cheap airfare, book a decent hostel and explore a new place! Get lost somewhere new even!

Another thing I caught myself doing too much while traveling abroad was (and this might sound crazy) but taking too many pictures. I was so focused on capturing a picture of something to have it with me forever I sometimes wasn’t completely able to let the beauty of the place sink in with my own eyes. Remember pictures don’t do you justice and can’t capture the real picture that your eyes can!