Rachael Van Der Werff

Rachael with friends at International night at Vilhemsro!

Rachael studied abroad in Sweden and now works as the Operations Coordinator for GoAbroad.com

Where did you go to school?

South Dakota State University 

When and where did you study abroad?

Sweden, Jonkoping University through SDSU 

What was the BEST part about studying abroad?

The best part about studying abroad for me was my accommodation during my stay. I lived in a place called Vilhemsro, which was a renovated hospital filled with 60 international students. This could be overwhelming for some, but for me it was just what I needed! There was never a dull night. If I was ever feeling lonely or wanted to be around people, I would just walk down the corridor and find people cooking, watching a movie or hanging out in the common room. During those interactions I met people and built long lasting friendships that helped me grow into the person I am today.

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

Studying abroad helped me realize that no matter where a person is from, or what their background is, there is always something that you can find you have in common. Whether it is humor, sadness, art, music or love, you can always find a way to connect with another person.

What was your BIGGEST challenge while studying abroad and how did you manage to handle it?

My biggest challenge while studying abroad was being away from my family for 5 months. I missed family gatherings, birthdays and holiday. I was able to overcome this challenge by connecting with them through emails, blogs and letters sent back and forth. The time away from my family made me really realize how important they are to me and how much I love and cherish them.

How did studying abroad change your life?

Study Abroad definitely changed my life. The people I meet, the places I visited and the things I experienced had an impact on me in a way I would never have been able to experience in the comfort of my home country. Everything I experience challenged and shaped me into a person who will always be looking for a new friend, adventure, and culture to explore!

What have you been doing post studying abroad?

I am currently working for GoAbroad.com as the Operations Coordinator. Without the experience of Studying Abroad I never would have had the opportunity to work for this amazing company. I feel blessed to be able to contribute daily in helping provide people with the resources they need to find the perfect international opportunity!

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

Studying Abroad is the best way to get out and experience the world! Going abroad while you are in college might be the only time you have the flexibility to leave your life in the U.S. for a few months and be engulfed in a new culture!

Noah Peden

Noah studied abroad/volunteered in Brazil, Costa Rica, Philippines, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Thailand and Peru and now works as an Outreach Coordinator for GoAbroad.com.

Jennifer Liechti

Jennifer studied abroad in Sweden and also worked as a live-in au pair in Switzerland. She hopes to pursue a career in international education.

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