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China, South Africa And Beyond!

Q&A with Megan: Studied in China
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Megan
Studied in China
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
At the end of the day, we have more in common than we think! It was fun to celebrate the similarities and recognize the differences.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
Sometimes students psych themselves up too much, anticipating a tough transition. Be flexible, patient and write down everything you remember from your trip.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Plan early and be up-front about your goals with your academic advisors.

When and where did you study abroad? Did you have a study focus?

I have been fortunate to study abroad several times. My first trip overseas followed my first year of studying Chinese. I visited Hangzhou, China, for a month and focused my studies on Chinese culture in film and learning the local language. My second trip abroad was a semester program in South Africa and Namibia with the Center for Global Education. This program strives to break down stereotypes and discern development projects in southern Africa, aptly titled “Nation Building, Globalization, and Decolonizing the Mind.” Lastly, I studied for an additional month in China in the city of Nanjing after receiving a scholarship from the local chapter of the Confucius Institute in Indiana.

What made you want to study abroad?

I’d traveled to England with my family when I was 13 years old and distinctly remember visiting Oxford and Cambridge. My parents and relatives suggested that I “come back someday and study there” and I just knew I had to! Turns out, I haven’t quite made it back to England yet, but I’m hopeful!

What was the biggest surprise about your study abroad experience?

My first study abroad experience in China truly made me feel like I was on another planet! It was a strong reminder that there are a lot of people on this earth and there is no single “correct way” to go about your life. At the end of the day, though, we have more in common than we think! It was fun to celebrate the similarities and recognize the differences.

How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?

The scholarships I had received for study at Valparaiso University carried over into most of my study abroad experiences. I also applied for and received outside scholarships and grants to help finance my trip; for China specifically, students should look into local Confucius Institutes for any connections or scholarship opportunities. I participated in a grant program that included a 100-hour volunteer internship in an NGO that was later rewarded with $1,000. I also always worked part-time while at school and even if I had to make social sacrifices, I knew it would always be worth it in the end (and I was right!)

What was your return like? Do you plan to go abroad again?

Each return has had its ups and downs and there are hardly any commonalities among my separate returns to the US. The re-entry experience really depends on the length of time you were abroad and how dedicated you were to engaging with and immersing yourself into the local culture. People/advisors will always tell you that you are going to experience culture shock, but while this is possible, I feel that sometimes students psych themselves up too much anticipating a tough transition. Be flexible, write down everything you remember from your trip, and be patient with yourself – grown accustomed to your old stomping ground takes more than a few days!

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Plan early and be up front about your goals with your academic advisors. Because I wanted to study in Namibia and my degree emphasis was on East Asia, all of my elective courses were completed on my semester abroad – which meant I had to hustle every other semester! In the end, the important thing is to make the decision to commit to studying abroad. Yes, it is a financial and a planning hurdle but you will have few or no regrets upon returning. Who knows, you may end up becoming addicted to it!

What did you miss most about home?

Mom’s cooking! Signs in familiar languages! The ability to truly relax and not feel like I was wasting precious moments.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

I want my life’s work to be dedicated to facilitating cross-cultural exchanges through education. I have hopes of working to create programs, maintain programs and help advise students who are looking to go abroad. I especially want to make study abroad more affordable and accessible to students, as well as working to make the programs more effective and social-justice oriented. I am looking forward to the possibility of working with colleagues who share my passions and I’m excited to help mold students’ worldviews!

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Megan knows exactly what she wants from her future career. Having had multiple positive experiences abroad, she is now dedicated to providing others with the same opportunity. Her proactive and enthusiastic attitude to facilitating cross-cultural experiences will serve her well as she pursues her career goals. As Megan moves into program management and creation, she may find that language fluency and international business skills would be of value. She might even consider taking time off to pursue an international MBA.

Megan's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
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Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
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Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
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Hooked On Volunteering!
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Making Contacts Count In The UK
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Going Solo In Spain!
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English Teaching In Eastern Europe
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China, South Africa And Beyond!
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Getting In Sync In Nairobi
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An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
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Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
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A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
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Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
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Design And Dining In Korea
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Tips From Tasmania
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Fast Friendship In Korea
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Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
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Now Or Never In Colombia
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Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
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An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
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Gaga For Ghana!
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Skill-Building In Bonn
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American Freshman In London
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Loving Life In Lyon
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Contributing To Change In Ghana
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A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
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Adapting To Work In Peru
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Independent In India
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Architectural Adventures in Australia
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Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
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Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
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A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
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Off The Beaten Path In Africa
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The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
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Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
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Living For The Moment In Valencia
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People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
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A Love Affair with Shanghai
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Learning To Love London
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Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
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Passionate About Panama
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Study And Adventure In New Zealand
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Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
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A Spring Semester In London
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Across Europe In A Caravan!
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Out And About In Paris
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Sports, Study And Fun In France
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Changing Course In China
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Learning While Teaching in Beijing
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Caring And Career Skills In Belize
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A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
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Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
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Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
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Insight And Education In Korea
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One Summer, Two Internships!
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Into The Wild In Alaska
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Giving In Guatemala
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Soaking Up Japanese Culture
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A Year Of Feeling French
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Springtime In Spain
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Host Hospitality In Morocco
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Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
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Learning To Go With The Flow In France
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Adventure In The Alps
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Communicating Creatively In Spain
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Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
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Simpatico In Florence
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Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
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A Professional Visit To Vietnam
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Making The Most Of Milano
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A Warm Welcome In Mexico
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Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
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Getting Settled In Seoul
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Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
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Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
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Business And Pleasure In Australia
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Kids And Culture In Korea
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Building Memories In India
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Encountering Cultures Across Europe
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Au Pair Resources
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Awards and Grants Resources
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Business and Finance Job Boards
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Business Directories
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Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
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Canadian Government Resources
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Children and Families Abroad
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Country Guides
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Cross-cultural Skills
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Engineering Job Boards
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Engineering Resources
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Expatriate Networking Sites
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Foreign Students Working in the US
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Freelancing Abroad
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General Job Search
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Global Education and Social Action
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Health Career Resources
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International Associations With Clubs on Campus
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International Development Career Resources
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Re-entry
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Relocating Abroad
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Stories From Abroad
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Travel Health and Safety
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UN and Other IGOs
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UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
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UN and Other IGOs Resources
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Visas and Passports
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