Staff Spotlight: Laura Charalambidou

Program Coordinator
Laura Charalambidou is a Program Coordinator for Global Semesters in their Cyprus based programs. She is an American, but has been living in Cyprus for the last 10 years. She studied at the University of Texas in Austin receiving her Bachelors of Science in Biology, and moved to Cyprus upon graduation.

female half shot

What position do you hold at Global Semesters? What has been your career path so far?

Laura: I am a Program Coordinator with Global Semesters in our Cyprus based programs. What does this mean? Well, it basically means that I get to do a little bit of everything in the process of a student coming to study here! I help prepare everything from housing to working with on course schedules before students arrive and when students are here I accompany them on excursions around the country and trips abroad.

Upon departure I help assist alumni in getting their abroad transcripts to their home schools and offer lifelong assistance for anything I can be of help with (it’s not so easy to get rid of me)! I look forward to continuing providing students with amazing study abroad experiences in whatever area of the field my future may hold!

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Laura: I studied abroad the summer of my junior year in college in San Jose, Costa Rica. I enrolled in a 6 week intensive Spanish program with a home stay and excursions throughout the country. I think it was from that moment that I began my love affair with being immersed in foreign cultures. Seeing passions for local traditions, from language to food to dance, made me realize what an amazing and diverse world we live in, and that each place you visit holds a variation on these things that is truly unique to that place.

Which study abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Laura: I think that Cyprus is a highly under rated destination for study abroad. Maybe because of its small size and location, it can be overlooked or overshadowed by the more common “go to” destinations for study abroad. I can’t think of anywhere else on earth where you can find such a unique mix of cultures, from Eastern to Western influences, combining Mediterranean island living with modern European cities and a fantastic home base for easy, cheap and convenient travel to destinations in other parts of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Acropolis Athens

With study abroad becoming more and more common for students, I think it is important to keep that element of uniqueness which Cyprus can still give you. Elaborating on the “go to" destinations for study abroad I mentioned before, I think places in central Europe such as Florence are highly overrated. Not that Florence isn’t an amazing city or an amazing place to study abroad, it is and it may be one of my favorite cities in the world, but it is overrun by North American study abroad students.

I think it is very hard for a student to get a true study abroad experience being surrounded by so much of the same student culture they are already used to back home. The idea of study abroad is to get out there and experience something completely new! Why travel half way across the world to spend your time hanging out with people you could have met without ever having left home!

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Laura: Global Semesters I believe is unique in the study abroad industry as it offers multi-country study abroad programs in addition to single country programs. Multi-country programs give students the chance to have a home base where they gain the experience of studying and living in a foreign location (more of a traditional study abroad experience), and in addition to this they also get to experience other countries through specially organized trips outside of the country of their home base, making the most out of their time abroad.

Venice taly

Global Semesters is also very focused on providing as much assistance as needed (or wanted) to its students. In each location where we have programs, there is a local Program Coordinator (like me) on site that is on call 24 hours 7 days a week for anything a student may need.

Program Coordinators also provide more assistance than just being on call when needed, they also actively provide students with information and help them get involved in all aspects of the culture of the location they are in, whether it be providing info on cultural events and local celebrations or arranging meetings to visit local museums and city hot spots, they try help every student experience each location as if they were a local.