Global Education Advocates

The Global Education Advocate Program was created to help students with questions and concerns about studying abroad and connect them with peers who have recently returned from study abroad programs. Global Education Advocates are enthusiastic individuals who are willing to talk with other students about their experience, and help with outreach events and initiatives on campus. These students volunteer their time to their peers and are excellent resources for anyone unsure of which program to choose, not sure what to pack, wanting to know how phones work abroad, or even just hoping for some general advice. The 2019-2020 Advocates are listed below so that you can reach out to them to hear about their experiences abroad and learn more. If you don’t see an Advocate listed for the exact program you are interested in, they are always happy to talk generally about the study abroad experience, application and process and will still be a great resource for you.

 

Emily Neuharth (she/her/hers)

E-mail: emily.neuharth@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Cambridge, England Study Center

Major: Creative Writing, Christ College Humanities

There really were many parts that gave meaning to my semester– which in and of itself was significant because I realized that I didn’t have to have one, big life-changing event that would define my “study abroad experience,” or the growth that I would take back with me. I learned to find meaning in a slower pace of life, in solitude and independence, and in how naturally an unknown place and strangers can become a home.

Advice: Try not to compare your experience. I really struggled with silently comparing myself to my fellow cohort members, other Valpo students abroad, and even past students who I had talked to. The most difficult comparison to let go of was actually between my reality and the expectations I had set upon myself prior to arriving abroad. I know it’s easier said than done, but trying to go into the semester with an open mind can really help you stay present in the moment, and not get caught up in worrying about doing “enough” or making “the most” of your time.

Demi Marshall (she/her/hers)

E-mail: demi.marshall@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Cambridge, England Study Center

Major: English major, Theater minor

The most meaningful part of my experience was getting to experience such great adventures with all my housemates. We became very close over the semester and created so many amazing memories together.

Advice: If you are really interested in studying abroad, my advice would be to make a plan to go and just stick to it. Go to the study abroad fair, ask questions about the program you’re interested in, tell your advisor when you plan to go. While it seems scary at first, studying abroad was the best thing I’ve done at Valpo and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested.

 

Ben Ganswindt (he/his/him)

E-mail: ben.ganswindt@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Cambridge, England Study Center

Major: Business Analytics

The most meaningful part of my experience was the different places I got to see and experience along with the relationships I built with people I met abroad.

Advice: My advice to students interested in studying abroad would be to get out of your comfort zone and be willing to try new things and go on adventures. To make the most of your experience you need to have a desire to learn about different cultures and see what they have in store. Be open to new ideas and different perspectives and it will be an eye opening experience.

 

 

Xiangrui Li (he/his/him)

E-mail: andy.li@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Reutlingen, Germany Study Center

Major: Mechanical Engineering, minor in Mathematics

The most meaningful part of my experience was that I got a chance to meet some new people and make some new friends, was able to travel a lot around Europe and experience other cultures.

Advice: Don’t be shy, get out of your comfort zone while studying abroad, be more open to people and enjoy your time abroad.

 

 

Abdalla Elghazaly (He/Him/His)

Email: abdalla.elghazaly@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Reutlingen, Germany Study Center

Major/Minor: Mechanical Engineering

The most meaningful part of my experience was adapting to a new culture, environment and people and making friends.

Advice: Be as open as you can, have fun, yet focus on your studies.

 

 

Abigail Dykema (she/her/hers)

E-mail: abigail.dykema@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Costa Rica Study Center based near San Jose

Major: Biomedical Engineering, minor in Humanitarian Engineering

The most meaningful part of my experience was getting a host family! I now have another family in a different part of the world who continue to check in on me and care for me even though I’m not there anymore.

Advice: Be open to making new friendships with people in your cohort and with your on-site staff. They’ll be your biggest support while you’re abroad, there to lift you up when you need it and help you celebrate all of the exciting new things you do.

 

Maddie Fry (she/her/hers)

E-mail: madeline.fry@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Costa Rica Study Center based near San Jose

Major: Theology & Ministry, Spanish and Global Service

I found my home stay to be the most remarkable part of my study abroad  experience. My host family was so welcoming, nurturing, and inclusive which made my time in Costa Rica so much more enjoyable.

Advice: I would encourage students who want to study in another country to have an open mind about learning about and within other cultures and being prepared to have a deeply formative academic and personal experience. Living in another country will expand your perspective in so many areas and challenge students to see the world in a new lens.

Sarah Germann

E-mail: sarah.germann@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Costa Rica Study Center based near San Jose

Majors: Environmental Science and Geography

The most meaningful part of my experience abroad was meeting lots of different people in lots of different places and, as a result, learning to embrace and become a part of the community around me.

Advice: I would advise students to approach their study abroad experience with an open mind, open heart towards new people, a readiness for ambiguity in plans, and a willingness to forgive their own mistakes.

 

Lucas Delahunty

E-mail: lucas.delahunty@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Universidad Viña del Mar Exchange in Chile

Major: International Relations and Spanish

The most meaningful part of my experience was getting to improve my Spanish fluency with my Chilean friends and host family was one of the most meaningful and beneficial parts of studying abroad. My host family was welcoming and helpful which made my experience all the more worthwhile.

Advice: Capitalize on the opportunity to travel, become more independent, and continue to form your worldview.

 

 

Brennen Wilson (he/his/him)

E-mail: brennen.wilson@valpo.edu

Program Location: Augsburg University in Southern Africa (South Africa & Namibia)

Major: Digital Media Communications

The most meaningful part of my experience was the different context of education in a different atmosphere compared to what one might be already used to in the United States. Re-wiring the brain to think and live in a new complex way. This can benefit anyone to become a more adaptable, open-minded, caring and experienced person.

Advice: Take advantage of this opportunity. For those who believe that studying abroad will serve no benefit to their education (personal intellect), please reconsider. To me, studying abroad should be less about the benefit to one’s textbook learning than it is beneficial to one’s all around wisdom through experience. It is a different kind of education–one not found necessarily in a textbook or through a lecture–for those who are on the fence of truly seeing the value in studying abroad. If you are to go through with the decision to travel, trust me, after the semester (or for however long) you will soon realize the benefits traveling had to your overall character and intellect. Those who make it in this world are the ones who grow to become masters in adaptation. If you cannot adapt, you will not survive. And the best way to learn how to adapt is by going out there–challenging yourself to try, meet, and do new things. There is no such thing as failure when you grow in the attitude and expertise of adaptation. If you tried, that is all that matters and this philosophy to life is what will separate the strong from the weak. Of course, the study abroad experience comes with so much more to one’s traditional education too. Especially for those who want to learn about a specific country’s cultural and historical context.

 

Jen Feutz (she/her/hers)

E-mail: jen.feutz@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Augsburg University in Southern Africa (South Africa & Namibia)

Major: Political Science

The most meaningful part of my experience was learning what really matters in life. The relationships that form your life, whether at home or abroad, are invaluable resources that we need to appreciate more.

Advice: My advice to students is to take everything in! Studying abroad can be a bit overwhelming, so remember to slow down and take breaks to enjoy your experience!

 

Rae Erickson (she/her/hers)

E-mail: rae.erickson@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Augsburg University in Southern Africa (South Africa & Namibia)

Major: Global Service

The most meaningful part of going abroad for me was just learning that I could manage my mental health on my own in another country. Being away from my typical support systems showed me that I am never alone, no matter where I am, and that I can handle things alone, even when I don’t have to be.

Advice: Going to study abroad in another place is such a life-altering and rare opportunity, that I want every person willing to experience it to choose somewhere that they will really learn the most about themselves. For me, this meant going to Namibia, where there is a really different culture to learn about.

 

Annika Brown (she/her/hers)

E-mail: annika.brown@valpo.edu

Programs/Location: Boston University Paris Internship

Majors: International Relations and French

The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was being able to connect and meet new people in another language.

Advice: Plan ahead so you can fit it in your schedule because it will be an experience that help you grow in new ways and give you lasting memories.

 

 

Rachel Silcox (she/her/hers)

E-mail: rachel.silcox@valpo.edu

Programs/Location: Exchange Program with University College Utrecht, in Utrecht, Netherlands

Majors: Mechanical engineering and the humanities

 

The most meaningful part of my experience was meeting people from all different backgrounds, including the Netherlands, Tanzania, Dubai, and even Hawaii, interact and work together to create a great student driven school. My experience abroad showed me how important and interesting international collaboration is and I hope to take what I learned here into anything I do in the future!

Advice: My advice for students would be to try to not have any expectations or assumptions, but that students should take whatever opportunities come up and look forward to the adventure!

 

Christy Craig (she/her/hers)

E-mail: christy.craig@valpo.edu

Programs/Location: Exchange Program with University College Utrecht, in Utrecht, Netherlands

Major: Health Science

 

Reese Jones (she/her/hers)

Study Abroad Student Aide

E-mail: reese.jones@valpo.edu

Program/Location: College Year in Athens, Greece

Major/Minor: Sociology: Criminology

The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was definitely the building of relationships while being there. I was able to acquire long lasting friendships, despite distance and inconsistent communication. They also help me to stay connected to Greece, as well as made Greece feel more like home while I was there. I was happy to have created international ties that I could always revisit. I think that’s a beautiful way to “leave your mark” someplace, by creating a shared energy with people that has a mutual impact on everyone’s lives.

Advice: Maintain an open mind! Don’t dismiss what you don’t understand or what isn’t familiar to you. Embrace difference. Embrace change. Have fun.

 

Claire Utzinger (she/her/hers)

E-mail: claire.utzinger@valpo.edu

Program/Location: College Year in Athens, Greece

Major: Studio Art, minor in Communication and Humanities

The most meaningful part of my experience was that I made friends from other schools that I will have for the rest of my life. Right away I found a group of people that had similar values to me, and a passion for travel. This truly enhanced my experience abroad because I had people that I could lean on if I was having a bad day or go out and explore Greece on a good one. You don’t realize how important that is until you are in a different country for four months, which teaches you a lot about yourself and other people.

Advice: When you study abroad, you are able to experience the culture of the country you are in, in a way that you would never be able to if you only visited for a short time. Soak in everything. Take advantage of travelling to other places while you are abroad, but also take the time to really take in and learn about your city.

 

Isabel Coffey

E-mail: isabel.coffey@valpo.edu

Program/Location: College Year in Athens, Greece

Majors: Creative Writing and Greek and Roman Studies

The most meaningful part of my experience was meeting incredible people who shared my passion for travel, discovery, and especially Classics! Sarah, Maria and I learned and grew so much together through our travel, and will be friends for a long time.

Advice: Don’t hesitate. Study abroad, or any new experience for that matter, is scary. It’s a leap. Take the leap and go with it even if you’re afraid because things NEVER turn out how you expect and life will take you to amazing places when you let go a little and live through the fear or uncertainty.

 

 

Abbey Zombik (she/her/hers)

E-mail: abbey.zombik@valpo.edu

Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Newcastle, Australia

Major: International Relations, Philosophy Minor

The most meaningful part of my experience was getting to meet people from all different parts of the world, as well pushing myself out of my normal comfort zone, giving me more confidence then I have ever had before. This lead me to deciding what I wanted to study as well as, what I wanted to do for a career path.

Advice: My advice to students would be keep an open mind, and be willing to experience the new culture that you find yourself surrounded by, make the most of your time abroad!

 

 

Ryan Gersch

Study Abroad Student Aide

E-mail: ryan.gersch@valpo.edu

Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Limerick, Ireland

Majors: Chemistry and Biology – pre-med track

The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was being able to experience a culture I had not known much about before. Ireland has a very unique and beautiful culture, and I am so thankful to have gone on so many adventures and to have learned more not only about Ireland, but about myself as well.

Advice: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone during your trip abroad. Push yourself to embrace new ideas and experiences. Doing so will make your time abroad more memorable and meaningful for you. The idea of experiencing something that is not familiar might seem intimidating, but the most wonderful of surprises come to us when we least expect it.

 

Abby Corbett (she/her/hers)

E-mail: abby.corbett@valpo.edu

Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Limerick, Ireland

Major: Greek & Roman Studies, minor in Philosophy

The most meaningful part of my experience was being able to see the country that my family comes from. Learning that my family left Ireland after the first and second potato famine was awesome, yet devastating.

Advice: Do it. Apply for the scholarships and take advantage of being able to travel easily to other places. Flights are cheap throughout Europe. Trains are just as efficient as well!

 

 

 

Grace Burkhart (she/her/hers)

E-mail: grace.burkhart@valpo.edu

Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Limerick, Ireland

Major: Biochemistry, minor in Creative Writing

The most meaningful part of my Study Abroad experience was getting to travel and experience so many amazing places. Each city had its own unique character, and it was so great to be able to explore the city, eat delicious food, laugh with friends, and visit beautiful, historic sites.

Advice: My advice would be to enjoy the time you have in your study abroad program. It goes by so fast, so if you want to travel anywhere else, start planning early. Before you know it, you’ll be headed back to America, so make the most of your time abroad!

 

 

Ellie Benz (she/her/hers)

E-mail: ellie.benz@valpo.edu

Program/Location: IES Abroad French Language Immersion Program in Nantes, France

Major: French and Psychology

While I was abroad, I created many meaningful connections with so many different people. I loved learning about other cultures and becoming best friends with people from around the world. Still having connections with those people even back in the US is a great feeling.

Advice: Be confident. There are many times studying abroad when you will be unfamiliar with the language, the food, or just where you are living and traveling in general, but that is okay. Just be confident in everything you do and things will work out fine!

 

Maddie Bohlin (she/her/hers)

E-mail: maddie.bohlin@valpo.edu

Program/Location: IES Abroad French Language Immersion Program in Nantes, France

Major: French & IECA, minor in Humanities

The most meaningful part of my experience was building a relationship with my host family. My family talked with me, watched French films with me, and invited me to family gatherings, all which taught me a lot about French language and culture. Having a strong relationship with them made my study abroad experience feel more unique and personal, and it was a great opportunity to practice my French with native speakers!

Advice: Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture! While it feels safer to stick with other students who may be in your program, you will not get a real sense of the culture unless you talk with local people and participate in their customs. Trying new things can be scary, but also very fun! So take some chances and really get to know the country you will be calling home for the next few months.

 

Anna Corner (she/her/hers)

E-mail: anna.corner@valpo.edu

Program/Location: IES Abroad French Language Immersion Program in Nantes, France

Major: French & IECA

The most meaningful part of my experience was living with my host family! From taking care of me when I was sick to giving me rides to airports and train stations, they went above and beyond for me.

Advice: Learn to budget and don’t impulse buy. It’s so easy to blow through money.

 

Lizzi Stack (she/her/hers)

Email: lizzi.stack@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Barcelona, Spain

Major/Minor: International Business

The most meaningful part of my experience in Barcelona was being able to meet new people and speak to them in their language all while learning about and experiencing a new culture.

Advice: My advice for anyone who is interested in studying abroad is to just do it! Take advantage of the unique opportunity you have to travel and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Visit places you’ve never heard of or places you’ve always dreamed of going to. Flights are pretty cheap all throughout Europe. Don’t hesitate! It goes by fast so make the most out of your experience!

 

Vivi Estes (she/her/hers)

E-mail: vivi.estes@valpo.edu

Program/Location: Florence, Italy

Major/Minor: Management

The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was being able to immerse myself in so many different cultures across Europe.

Advice: My advice to any student who wants to study abroad is to say yes to as much as possible to any opportunity that presents itself because that is where you grow the most! It goes by so fast so take advantage of each and every moment.

Become a Global Education Advocate

This program is a great way for students to maintain their connection and involvement with the Office of Global Education after they’ve completed their study abroad program. If you are interested in serving as a Global Education Advocate, please e-mail study.abroad@valpo.edu.