Bradley studied abroad in San José, Costa Rica with Academic Programs International (API), and also in Palmerston North, New Zealand with The Education Abroad Network (TEAN). He is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford, and intends on pursuing a career in international education.
Where do you go to school?
University of Pittsburgh – Bradford
When and where did you study abroad?
Fall 2012 – Universidad Veritas in San José, Costa Rica with Academic Programs International (API)
Spring 2013 – Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand with The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)
What was the BEST part about studying abroad?
That’s a tough question! I’d say the best part about studying abroad is traveling and meeting new people. After participating in both of my semesters abroad, it still fascinates me how many diverse and interesting people you meet while traveling, and how quickly and easy it is to befriend a fellow traveler.
Throughout my year abroad I had the privilege of not only living and studying in Costa Rica and New Zealand (for five months each) but I also got to travel to Panama, Nicaragua, and Fiji. I have to tell you, nothing compares to the feeling of bonding with a group of people while watching the sunrise atop a mountain in Fiji, ash-boarding down a volcano in Nicaragua, snorkeling in Panama, zip-lining through the rainforest in Costa Rica, or reenacting scenes from Lord of The Rings in New Zealand.
What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
The world is a magnificent place! There is beauty everywhere…sometimes you just have to look for it.
Studying abroad has made me a more global citizen. I have learned to respect and appreciate other lifestyles and cultures. One of the greatest quotes I’ve heard has been, “It’s not wrong, just different.” So true! I’ve learned that I in order to be a ‘good’ traveler, you do not judge until you understand. Studying abroad took me out of my comfort zone; it has opened up my eyes to the world and has allowed me to become a more confident, self-aware individual with a passion for international travel and creating friendships all over the world. I’ve learned that my heart desires the rest of the world, and my experiences studying abroad are just the beginning!
What was your BIGGEST challenge while studying abroad and how did you manage to handle it?
Honestly, I think my biggest challenge studying abroad was having to say goodbye to the countries I had called my home, and to all the new friends I had made.
I found a home in Costa Rica and I found another in New Zealand. The friends I met in both countries, regardless of the fact that some of them had to return to their home countries as well, are still and will always be my family from those countries. It’s hard to go from seeing them every day and taking off on a different adventure every weekend to only communicating via Facebook, Skype, texts, and calls. I consider some of them to be my best friends, and I know I will have them in my life as long as I live. Luckily, social media does exist and I’m always in communication with them. It may be harder to meet up, but I know that one day we will and until then I will always have my memories of the awesome times we had together.
How did studying abroad change your life?
Studying abroad has definitely changed my life! It has opened up my eyes to the wonders of the world, both big and small. It has allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and has helped me become a more confident and self-aware individual.
Studying abroad has also made me realize how passionate I am about international travel and education. There is so much that can be learned outside of the classroom and outside of one’s comfort zone. I’m hoping to, after graduation, continue my own international adventures, and share my enthusiasm and passion to help others gain an international education and discover the world as well.
What are your future plans?
I’m currently finishing up my undergraduate degree, and am planning on graduating in the spring of 2014. After my year abroad, I came back to my home university and obtained an internship in the Study Abroad Office. I am also working with both of my study abroad providers (API & TEAN) and promoting their study abroad programs and, in general, international education to the students on my campus.
My future plans are currently undecided; however, I do know that they will involve more international travel. Graduate school is most likely in my future, however my focus will be switched to international education/studies. I can also see myself teaching English abroad, working for a study abroad program, or taking some time off to backpack around the world! Wherever I end up, my goal is to ultimately obtain a career in which I can encourage more students to take advantage of the amazing opportunity of studying abroad.
What’s your BEST piece of advice for someone who is thinking about studying abroad?
Even if it’s only a 0.001% thought, GO! When will you ever get another chance like this again?! Don’t make excuses and then regret later about putting it off. Also, when you do go, go with an open mind. Don’t form many expectations beforehand because chances are they won’t be met. Also don’t worry about what could go wrong, just go and do it! Be spontaneous, go with the flow and make mistakes, but be smart about it and use your intuition and gut feelings.