Staff Spotlight: Carrie Osborn

What position do you hold at Abbey Road? What inspired you to join the team?

Carrie Osborn, an Admissions Representative and Program Coordinator in Florence.

Carrie: I'm an Admissions Representative during the year, and in the summer I am a Program Coordinator at Abbey Road's programs in Florence, Italy.

Italy has been my passion since I was a teenager. I ended up majoring in Italian Studies and Art History in college and spent my entire Junior year studying in Florence. I loved it so much, I went back to do my MA there too.

I loved the idea of working with Abbey Road because I get to combine my love for Academics with my passion for Italy and try to get young people as excited about study abroad as I am!

What do you most enjoy about your role?

Carrie: My favorite part of my role is seeing how excited these young students are to spend time studying in a foreign country, because I remember feeling exactly the same way when I was their age.

When talking to teens, it's amazing to see their faces light up when they realize that having an adventure abroad is actually a feasible possibility.

I also love to discover what drives our students to study abroad – some have been studying a foreign language for years and want to take their skills to the next level, some have gone on family vacations abroad before and want to experience those places in a new way, with people their own age, and others are just genuinely interested in learning about a different culture.

Did you travel abroad as a high school student? If so, where and how did it impact you?

Carrie: Yes, I did travel abroad in high school. I was a Senior in high school and went on a trip to Italy with a group of teachers and other students. I had never been outside of the U.S. before and was initially a little nervous about traveling without my parents.

I'm so glad that I didn't let my nerves hold me back, because I got to visit beautiful places all over the Italian peninsula, I was exposed to a new culture and new language, and seeing masterpiece works of art in situ in churches and piazzas had a profound effect on me.

That trip inspired me to study Italian language, culture, history, literature, and art in college. It inspired me to continue my education even further into graduate school, and even led to the work that I do today!

What makes Abbey Road's programs so unique?

Carrie: I think Abbey Road is so unique because we are all so passionate about international education – everyone who works at Abbey Road has a strong personal connection to it. Because of that, we work very hard to give our students an experience abroad that is as far from a "tourist experience" as possible.

We all appreciate the value of immersing oneself into another culture, and how doing that in a genuine way requires working with the local communities abroad and providing our students with first-hand language learning from native speakers.

We all believe in the importance of language learning happening outside the classroom, in real situations like exchanges with local merchants or waiters in a restaurant.

We also make sure to give each of our students a lot of individual attention and work hard to make sure that they get what they want out of their summer experience.

What advice would you have for a high school student considering their first trip abroad?

Carrie: I would tell a high school student that if they have the slightest desire to go abroad, they should absolutely do it. No matter what reservations or fears they might have about taking on that challenge, I can guarantee that by the time the summer is over, they won't want the program to end.

I would also really advise students to try to leave their daily American habits behind and be open-minded about learning a new way of doing things. New foods, new behaviors, new ways of talking are all part of having a real immersion experience abroad.

Being stubborn and stuck in your ways can make for a tough experience abroad. Flexibility and a high level of curiosity and respect for our communities abroad are crucial qualities that can turn a fun summer into a life-changing summer!