I have never traveled overseas alone before. As a graduate student, I had grown comfortable with the routine of things, from classes to rotations, and weekly exam reviews along with work obligations. But one day I woke up and realized that after I graduate, I wouldn’t have time to learn what life is like in another part of the world like I could as a student. As someone who has always been curious about other cultures and as a strong believer in bridging gaps in communication between different populations, I wanted to be able to really learn from life across the world and then use that knowledge to direct my own career in the future. While my university does offer a plethora of classes that can educate people about different cultures, I knew that there was a clear difference in learning about it and learning within it.
I spent weeks looking for internships that could apply to my interests while also providing the security that I wanted as someone studying abroad alone. When I discovered IES Abroad, my entire life changed. From the beginning of the application to when I arrived back in my home state after my 8 weeks living in Milan, Italy, the staff was there 100%. They helped me get my documents together for school and were very organized in helping all of the study abroad students get acquainted with the schedule and their expectations of us once we arrived. In addition to a class focused on cultural differences, society, and economics, they offered a free Italian language class, which was SO helpful when it came to my internship site and when I travelled to other places over the weekends (which they let us do!). I wanted to explore the Psychology field as it isn’t really discussed in my program, and they partnered me with a psychologist who had just created his own psychology company. It was so educational and enlightening, and my former boss and I still talk to this day! They have an incredibly vast array of programs and subjects that students can choose from, and they even give you the choice of interviewing with your potential boss while studying abroad before you even arrive in your study abroad country! I really liked that they were committed to helping me find a good fit from the very beginning.
In terms of location, I was in the HEART of Milan, in a gorgeous apartment, with three other American students and one community assistant (a native Italian college student). It was so safe and secure, which was something that made everyone so much more open to exploring their surroundings and really immersing themselves in the culture. They also provided everyone with a student health insurance plan that was included in our tuition fees. In terms of pricing, IES is one of the most affordable internships I have seen, and it definitely had the most coverage in terms of securing a placement geared to the student’s needs, safe and convenient housing, optional trips within the IES program (which were also SO much fun), health insurance, and weekend travel opportunities. I will forever be grateful for IES Abroad and the amazing staff that helped me learn so much about the world and so much about myself this past summer. A piece of my heart will always be in Italy.
If you're thinking about studying abroad but feel like there are so many reasons not to-- trust me, DO IT! Take a chance on yourself. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.