John Benander

John overlooking the beautiful Aegean Sea
on Paros Island, Greece

John studied abroad in Seville, Spain and now runs the website Study Abroad Store.

Where did you go to school?

John Carroll University

When and where did you study abroad?

Seville, Spain – CLIC

What was the BEST part about studying abroad?

The greatest thing about studying abroad was the awakening I had to a whole new world. Stepping out of where I was and experiencing life from a different perspective changed the way I think to this day. I am never going to be able to think the way I did before I left and that’s a good thing. I am much more aware of the rest of the world.

What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?

I learned that, for the most part, people all have the same goals and are very similar. We all want happiness, we all want to love and be loved, but fear, specifically fear of the unknown, can get in the way of that. Studying abroad is a great way to remove that fear.

What was your BIGGEST challenge when studying abroad?

My biggest challenge was the frustration that occurred from not knowing the language. I felt like an infant at times, not being able to articulate intelligently what I wanted. But there always came such satisfaction when I took a deep breath and figured out what I needed to do to get my point across.

How did studying abroad change your life? 

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience for the better. It changed the way I think and made me want to spread the word to others. So, it has definitely changed my life!

I have a passion and belief that the more people that go abroad, the more understanding of other cultures they will be, and ultimately, the more peaceful the world will be.

What have you been doing post studying abroad?

I now run Study Abroad Store. While advising students in the past, I was often advising students on several different places they should go for the different products that they needed. That’s why I decided to start a website where students can get all their products in one place.

My wife started Athena Study Abroad and I had been involved in the organization from the beginning. Our goal has been to partner with smaller schools overseas so as to provide a more intimate, personalized experience that lends itself to strong cultural immersion.

What’s your BEST piece of advice for a student who is thinking about studying abroad?

Do it.

It’s so easy to make excuses why not to go: money, time away from friends, etc.

But look at the reviews of people who do go abroad – so rarely does anyone ever regret it. So, just do it!

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