The best of both worlds: Start planning now for an amazing learning experience next summer
Taking classes and working an internship all while being abroad with friends? Yes, please!
Summer break offers many different opportunities for students. They can take classes, work an internship, travel, all while still wanting to have time to socialize with friends. I struggled trying to decide which option was right for me. However, after doing research about different programs offered at my school, I found an option that allowed me to experience all four at once.
This past summer, I participated in Georgia Tech’s Leadership for Social Good study abroad. Through this program, I took 9 credit hours that apply to my minor and got a deeper insight to the nonprofit world. I worked an internship with a Hungarian social enterprise, AndiJoga, where I was able to apply the lessons I learned in class directly to an organization. Over the six weeks I was abroad, I was also able to visit six different countries, make 19 new friends, and create countless memories.
Learning inside and outside the classroom
On the academic side, I took three different leadership classes. We had activities such as class presentations, book reports, reflection essays, video essays, and speaker reports. Many of our classes featured presentations given by different leaders in the Hungarian non-profit sector. When I first started the program, I was nervous about balancing classwork with taking advantage of being abroad. However, I quickly realized that learning comes from cultural experiences. As a class, we participated in different cultural activities, as well as volunteered for different non-profit organizations, such as building a house with Habitat for Humanity. We were able to learn in a classroom, but also have practical application to go along with it. This is important to look for so you know how to use what you are learning.
Firsthand experience through an internship
My internship was with AndiJoga, a social enterprise that strives to provide sustainable access to the physical and mental benefits of yoga to everyone who would otherwise not be able to experience calmness through breathing and movement. My position included conducting research for the organization and creating marketing materials. We also worked on defining the organization’s impact and finding ways to measure it. In addition to this, I participated in many yoga classes and experienced firsthand the calmness this organization is working to promote. This showed me how important community is within an organization and the need to unwind.
I was able to travel and explore. Through the official program, we spent time in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. On weekends, I went to Greece, Poland, and Slovenia. While abroad, Budapest was where we called home. We spent four weeks there learning and working. In Greece, we were able to experience gorgeous islands and beaches and I got to live out my Mamma Mia dreams. In Poland, we had a humbling experience after visiting Auschwitz and Schindler’s museum. My weekend trip to Slovenia was truly unforgettable and my favorite. We spent our time hiking, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, and exploring the beautiful country we were in. There is a whole world out there beyond our comfort zone to explore and until you step out, you might not appreciate how wonderful it is where you are now.
Although these places hold a special place in my heart, it was the people I was with that turned them into fond memories. Every person on this program had the same drive and passion for helping people. We each made a genuine effort to get to know each other on a deeper level. These people were there to encourage me to keep going as I was struggling to hike up a mountain. They encouraged me to try new things – from something as simple as traditional foods to new adventures like cliff diving. As the program came to an end, I began to see influences on myself from each new person I met and each new place we encountered.
When looking for what to do with your next summer break, consider your goals and which programs could help you meet those goals. There are a lot of opportunities out there so start exploring now and your next summer could bring you the experience of a lifetime.
Pearson Students: Have you studied abroad during the summer? What advice would you give on selecting a program? Share by commenting below!
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