Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea Schwartz

Chelsea is from Short Hills, NJ who is will be attending the University of Vermont in the fall as an undeclared major because she loves so many things including elephants.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Chelsea Schwartz headshot

Chelsea: The most important lesson I learned on my trip was to give everything a chance even if you are unsure or nervous about it.

There are probably going to be a lot of things you are unfamiliar with, but to get the most out of your trip don't be afraid to try everything because the things you thought you wouldn't like would be your favorite. Anything from the food to the activities to the people and their culture can and mostly will be different from what your used to. Don't be scared to take risks and ask questions.

Also, don't be afraid to talk to a lot of people. There were so many different people from different countries around the world participating in similar things we were doing. I got the opportunity to talk to people from Australia, Sweden, and Europe who were all super friendly. It definitely added to my experience in Thailand.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Chelsea: The hardest part about going abroad was adjusting to the atmosphere. I did not realize how hot and humid Thailand was and when I left the airport I was hit with this huge heat wave which was really surprising. It was uncomfortable at first and made me ask myself how was I going to deal with this for the next 14 days but I got used to it. Its always helpful to research a little about where you are going so you know a little bit of what to expect.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Children's School in Chiang Mai

Chelsea: There were so many memories made on my trip abroad. The best memories were the ones where we were in a situation that was so crazy, we laughed uncontrollably.

There was one night at the Elephant Nature Park right outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand when someone forgot to close the window in our room. These giant plants/brush were right outside the window and a tarantula crawled in. I walked in and saw it on the ceiling and I screamed so loud that I woke my roommate up. When she saw it she just said nothing and grabbed her backpack and shoes and booked it out the door.

Although it was kind of scary, we all just laughed about it for days which something I still tell all my friends at home.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Tiger Kingdom

Chelsea: Standing 2 feet away from a giant elephant for a week was something I only could experience in Thailand. Every morning when we walked to the bathrooms you would look to your right and see a bunch of elephants waving their trunks back and forth. It was almost like a dream. That was not something I would ever see out my bedroom window in New Jersey.

Even when we were just admiring the elephants from a distance, it was so amazing to just watch them do their thing. All of us knew that this was probably the only week in our lives that we would get to experience something this insane. And because all 10 of us shared a love for elephants and animals in general, it made the experience really enjoyable.