Alumni Spotlight: Julia Bennett

Julia Is a Linguistics major at Binghamton University. She was born and raised in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York. She spends her days hula hooping and enjoying the great outdoors.

Why did you pick this program?

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Julia: I picked this program after extensive research. I wanted a program that would provide lots of time outdoors as well as time in cities enjoying the nightlife of modern cities, as well as traditional cultures of a different part of the world. I knew I wanted to go somewhere really different than the Western culture I was used to.

I looked into about twenty different programs and this one caught my eye. The fact that I'd get to travel to four different countries during the program is what really sealed the deal for me! After reading the program description and the detailed itinerary I honestly thought it was too good to be true.

My brother even tried to convince me it wasn't a real program and was just a scam to get your money (HA! Maybe he was just jealous.) I took a leap of faith and paid the deposit. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

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Julia: The lighter you pack the better. You can get practically anything you could ever want abroad. On this program you'll pay a lot less for everything than you would in the States. They have a lot of really cool clothes in Asia and they're really cheap. They're perfect for traveling so you really only need the clothes on your back.

Plus, the more things you bring the more you'll have to carry. It's really freeing to have almost nothing with you. And if you don't bring anything you're expensive or that you're too attached to, when things do inevitably get lost, stolen or broken you won't sweat it.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Julia: Simply put I guess I learned "It's not what you do it's the way that you do it." Having an awesome experience isn't about the places you go or the things that you see, it's the attitude you bring with you everywhere you go. But, it's easy to wake up happy and excited every morning in a new place, with a new sunrise on your horizon. It's not so easy to do that once you come home.

On this trip each day was fresh and new and exciting, when you come home it's easy to fall into the mindset that each day will be dull, monotonous and won't bring anything new. But each day is really only as wonderful as you think it will be. Going abroad helped me see each day as a something new instead of just a boring continuation of a robotic life.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?


Julia: I tell them to definitely go for it! I think people are often pretty hesitant to go abroad because it is really intimidating to imagine going half way across the globe all by yourself. I understand you won't know anyone at first, but you will make friends easily even if you're not the most outgoing person (trust me.)

It's easy to think of the worst case scenarios when going abroad, but they won't happen. In fact, in all likely hood your trip will far exceed your expectations.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Julia: The most challenging part of the experience for me was dealing with illness. On this program you're almost always doing something, whether it's traveling, hiking, exploring the city, or something else physically demanding -the program doesn't stop when you don't feel up to it. It's not unlikely that you will get very sick at some point on the trip and dealing with it will test both your physical and emotional limits.