The Study Abroad 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. Study Abroad 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 2018-2019 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.



Damia Garcia (she/her/hers)

Study Abroad Advocates Lead


Program/Location: Vina del Mar, Chile & Puebla, Mexico

Majors: International Economics and Cultural Affairs (IECA) and Spanish


The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was getting out of my comfort zone and being able to experience new things. Studying abroad gave me a whole new perspective of life and helped me decide a career path.

Advice: When you go abroad be as open minded as possible. Forget anything you have ever learned about the place you’re going or stereotypes you might expect from this place. These preconceptions can hinder your experience abroad and can keep you away from experiencing the wonders a country has to offer.


Evonne Le (she/her/hers)

Study Abroad Advocates Co-Lead


Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Newcastle, Australia

Major: Public Relations, Sociology minor

The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience is developing my independence. It was a very personal growth for me that I will treasure forever.

Advice: My advice for students is to keep an open mind. There are going to be differences and similarities; besides thinking about negatives, always think about the positives. Embrace your study abroad.




Caroline Pratt (she/her/hers)

Study Abroad Advocates Co-Lead


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

Majors: International Relations/Economics, Minor in Communications


The most meaningful part of my study abroad experience was being in a cultural vastly different than my own. Studying abroad in Namibia, I was constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone which allowed me to make meaningful connections with many different people. My time abroad, solidified my decision to pursue a masters in international education and work in development work post graduation. The Namibia program was especially influential because of the diversity of the program, with its internship component, three homestays, and the freedom to become a more confident world travelers. The connections that I made studying abroad, to both the local community and my peers, were unlike any others I have ever had. The friendships I made in Namibia, I am sure will last forever.

Advice: First off, study abroad even if you are worried about missing out on on-campus life. It is so worth it and I promise everything and everyone will be eagerly waiting you when you get back. Also- when you are abroad, take advantage of every opportunity. Take a weekend trip, hangout with locals, do not be afraid to put yourself out there.


Isabel Coffey


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.


Lily Kapitan (she/her/hers)


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

Majors: Social Work and Spanish


The most meaningful part of my experience was being able to become part of my host family. I gained a lot of insight into the culture through my family and made a really great connection there. I also got to be a big sister for the first time which was really great!

Advice: My advice is to try and make some deep connections, with people in your program and people from your host country. There are a lot of great memories you will make and having close friends will make them even better. It’s also important to have someone to talk to when you’re having a bad day. Studying abroad is awesome, but there are going to be some tough moments. If you have a support system around you, the tough moments will be easier to get through.


Kristin Morris


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

Majors: International Economics and Cultural Affairs (IECA) and Spanish


The most meaningful part of my experience was getting to be part of a new family and learning about and living in another culture.

Advice: Don’t be afraid to integrate yourself into a new family or society. The world is there to help you grow!




Hannah Purkey (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: Costa Rica Study Center based near San Jose & CISabroad Summer in Economics in Prague

Majors: International Business, minors in Spanish and Theology


Most meaningful part of my experience: Building cross cultural connections and relationships that will last a lifetime!

Advice: Step outside of your comfort zone. Study abroad is different, its out of the norm, but it can change your understanding of the world around you. This change can lead to incredible things! Remember: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” -Neale Donald Walsch



Maddie Fry (she/her/hers)


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

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.




Justin Buiter


Program/Location: Reutlingen, Germany Study Center

Majors: Chemistry major, German minor


I found learning about the connections between Germany and America the most meaningful from my time abroad.

Advice: I would advise students interested in studying abroad to start planning as early as possible and talk with their advisor and to choose a program that they believe they’ll get the most out of.




Sarah Crowe (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: Reutlingen, Germany Study Center

Majors: International Economics and Cultural Affairs (IECA) and German


The most meaningful part of my experience was getting to learn more about the German language and culture first-hand.

Advice: My advice to anyone going abroad is to go out of your way to meet people in your Residence Hall or people who are natives of your host country. Most of them will be just as, if not more interested in comparing cultures as you will be!




Erik Schuchardt


Program/Location: VIEP in Reutlingen, Germany

Major: Electrical Engineering


The most meaningful part of my experience was making lifelong friends with students from all over the world.

Advice: Don’t be afraid to talk to new people, especially international students. Everyone is in the boat because everything is new, so it is easy to meet people and make friends.




Sara Eveler


Program/Location: Year-long Exchange in Tuebingen, Germany

Majors: Chemistry and German (pursuing Optometry as a career)


The most meaningful part of my experience was finding a church and really planting myself there for the entire year. I had a great year abroad of meeting new friends and improving my German, but by joining a church I had an incredible support group that would challenge me to be the best Sara I could be – that included me growing and maturing in my faith, learning to serve, love, and forgive others, as well as (most importantly) learning to love and trust my Creator in all things.

Advice: My best piece of advice would be to jump right in to the new culture. It’s hard at the beginning to adjust and transition to a new set of values, a new culture, and a new language, but the harder you push yourself to be a part of it all at the beginning (whether that be speaking ONLY the language of the host country, talking to a native speaker, trying new foods, trying to understand why they do something differently), the sooner you’ll get used to it and be able to enjoy your time abroad!



Michelle Andersen


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

Majors: Social Work and Psychology


The most meaningful part of my experience was the people I met. From my fellow students to the staff, the ladies at the women’s domestic violence shelter I interned at, my homestay families, and even person I interacted with along the way, the people were the part of the experience that touched me most and what I will never forget. I also was and continue to be shocked at how much I learned while there and how it continuous affects the way I think.

Advice: Study abroad. Whatever you are worried about whether it is costs or being away from home, it is worth it. It is an affordable experience that you not only receive class credit for but also have experiences that you could not have anywhere else. If you have questions or concerns along the way, there will be people to help you. In my experience, it was so worth it and I am so happy I got to spend 4 months in Namibia.



Jen Feutz (she/her/hers)


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)


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.



Rachel Silcox (she/her/hers)


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!



Gabrielle Neuman


Program/Location: Central College in Granada, Spain

Majors: Elementary Education and Spanish


The most meaningful part of my experience was being able to meet all of the people I now call friends while experiencing cultures completely different from my own. When going abroad, you have an idea of what to expect, but you never fully know who you are going to meet, or what opportunities and adventures await. I wasn’t sure who the other students going to Spain with me were or what my host family would be like, but meeting those new people both American and European, and doing the incredible things with them that I experienced were some of the best memories I made during my time abroad. While I have learned so much about the different cultures of the world, there is always something more to understand and learn, and my study abroad experience taught me that through the amazing people I met and opportunities I was able to take part in.

Advice: My advice to students would be to take advantage of your time abroad. For most students, studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You may only be in that part of the world during your time abroad so be completely invested in that region of the world. That may be traveling and seeing the sights, experiencing the culture you are living in through festivals or other means, spending time with your host family, and so many other things that are unique to that area of the world. Live life to the fullest during your time abroad, even if that means getting out of your comfort zone because you never know when you are going to have an opportunity like that again.



Biyanka Shah (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: Central College in Granada, Spain

Major: Economics


The most meaningful part of my experience was volunteering with preschoolers in the immigrant/underprivileged part of Granada.

Advice: Get as involved as you can so you can experience the nation in as many was a possible. Be as uncomfortable as possible. Do not be afraid to do things alone, it’s more fun sometimes. Take one trip alone; you’ll learn so much about yourself.




Rachel Kennedy (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: Cambridge, England Study Center

Major: Creative Writing major, art minor


The most meaningful part of my experience abroad was probably being able to see into the lives of another country for a little while. England has such a long and rich history, and the people are very in touch with history even though it can seem so far in the past. Having connections to large parts of history and small parts of history is something that doesn’t feel very important here in America, where we constantly seem to be moving forward and forgetting to look back. For me, seeing the history of the country be more or less alive even in the modern day was really meaningful and gave me a new perspective on how to look at things in my own life.

Advice: Some advice I would give students is simply to be fearless.Generally speaking, I can be pretty quiet and timid when it comes to doing things outside my own comfort zone, so studying abroad, while it is something I always wanted to do, frightened me quite a bit. I would be in a far away place and more or less on my own. It was daunting, to say the least, but being outside my comfort zone led me to do some amazing things that I don’t know I would have ever done. If I had held on to the nerves and fear that I felt before leaving, I don’t know that I would have made the strong friendships or that I would have done half of the things I did. It’s important to be smart and to be safe, of course, but trying new things and not being afraid of experiences is important for personal growth and for making the most of studying abroad. More practical advice I would give students it to make a list of everything you need and double check it before you leave. Pack early, ask questions and ask for help if you need it, look up some stuff about where you’re going, and always plan ahead, or at least try to. The last practical thing I can say is some advice that was given to me about picking out souvenirs: If you wouldn’t expect them to get you anything, don’t stress about getting them something.



Cecilia Hall (she/her/hers)

Study Abroad Student Aide


Program/Location: Cambridge, England Study Center

Major: Meteorology

The most meaningful part of my time abroad was getting to live in such a cool place. I really enjoy life in Cambridge, from meeting people at pubs to studying on Jesus Green. Life there felt more relaxed, and I appreciated that then, but I really know how much it means now.

Advice: Travel whenever you can. I went to six other countries when I was abroad and I have good experiences from all of them. If you cannot travel outside of the county that you are in, travel within it! Explore the city you live in and find something different about it.



Ben Ganswindt (he/his/him)


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.




Maria Clemens


Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Newcastle, Australia

Majors: Chemistry and Environmental Science


I have a hard time picking the most meaningful part of my experience abroad because it impacted me in so many ways. However, I guess I would have to say that one of the most profound effects this opportunity had on me was opening me up to heaps more of the world and shown me strength I have in places I didn’t recognize. It also has reminded me of how important the people close to you are and allowed me to make friends across the globe that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Advice: My advice for future students would be to seize every chance they have, every single day they are abroad. I went in with the attitude that my days were numbered so I made them all count. I encourage everyone to get out of whatever shell of security they may have and travel, meet people, and love every second of it. Not everything will be perfect or work out the way you want/think it will but that doesn’t make it bad. We all make loads of mistakes but I can guarantee studying abroad will not be one of them.


Ryan Gersch

Study Abroad Student Aide


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.


Abbey Little


Program/Location: CISabroad Semester in Newcastle, Australia

Major: Actuarial Science

There is beauty everywhere you look in Australia – within the people, in the landmarks, in the art, in the culture. My favourite memory from studying abroad is much more than just is comprised of many memories made with the amazing people I spent time with while abroad. The people I communicate with on a daily basis has changed since studying abroad. I have relationships. Real, meaningful, lasting relationships with not just the people I went abroad with, but with the people of Australia. I fell in love with Australia. I fell in love in Australia. It is now my second home. As Miriam Adeney said, “you will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ..And to me, that is the most remarkable aspect of my life.

Advice: BE PRESENT! Immerse yourself in the culture and reach out to the locals. Do not compare your abroad location to your home. It will be different. Embrace every difference and be present in every moment before it is too late.




Abbey Zombik (she/her/hers)


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!




Skylar Schoedel


Program/Location: La Rochelle International Business School in La Rochelle, France

Majors: Marketing and French

The most meaningful part of my experience was truly the people I met! Going abroad really pushes you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow as a person.

Advice: It’s 100% normal and okay to be nervous!!!! This experience pushed me beyond what I thought was capable, but in the best way. There will be times you’ll have to have hard conversations and uncomfortable moments, but it’s all a part of the experience.




Emily Nelson (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: Kansai Gaidai Exchange Program in Hirakata, Japan

Major: Psychology

The most meaningful part of my experience was reconnecting with my country of origin in a modern sense, through new friends, learning the language, and spending time with my family.

Advice: If you think you may want to study abroad, go for it and plan now! I scheduled my first meeting the first few weeks of my freshman year to ensure that my schedule would be compatible with my trip. Get your applications done as soon as possible, and utilize a calendar for important dates. Be on the lookout for scholarship opportunities that can fund your trip, focus on cultivating good relationships with your language teachers if applicable, and talk to students who have been at that particular location. Try to talk to as many people as you can; online information isn’t as pertinent as direct information from students, as they can provide you a picture of what will become your new perspective.


Kathleen Salter


Program/Location: VIEP in Hangzhou, China

Major: Electrical Engineering

The most meaningful part of my experience was being able to experience both life as a fulltime student in China and the business culture in China. I made some lifelong friends and unforgettable memories while on this program that I will cherish forever. Plus, I studied Chinese cooking so I can share some of my experiences with friends and family.

Advice: Don’t be afraid to step a little bit out of your comfort zone and say “yes” to new experiences. Some of my best experiences come from a time when I said “yes” and tried something completely new.


Davina Boykin


Program/Location: Budapest Semester in Mathematics (BSM) in Budapest, Hungary, and CISabroad Summer in Florence in Florence, Italy

Majors: Mathematics and Art

The most meaningful part of my experience was how much I learned about myself. Everyone goes abroad expecting to learn about other cultures, (and I did!) but I learned so much about myself, gained so much confidence, and all in all just grew more as a person, than I ever could have expected.

Advice: Get more information! Even if you don’t know if you’re going to study abroad, or think it’s too expensive, or don’t know where you want to go, reach out! You can’t make a decision without all the facts.



Katarina Diepholz (she/her/hers)


Program/Location: IES Abroad French Language Immersion Program in Nantes, France and Christ College Literature & History of Ireland Spring Break program

Majors: English and French, minor in Mathematics

My favorite parts of studying abroad in France were the ability to improve my language skills and getting to live with a host family–it was a really valuable way to learn more about and become integrated into the culture.

Advice: Go with the flow! Be open to new experiences and cultural differences, even if it feels a little odd–we’re all human, and if you’re studying abroad you’re trying to learn about another culture and becoming a global citizen. It’s important to be open to new experiences! Connect with natives of your host country as much as possible!



Become a Study Abroad Advocate

This program is a great way for students to maintain their connection and involvement with OIP Study Abroad after they’ve completed their study abroad program. If you are interested in serving as a Study Abroad Advocate, please contact the Study Abroad Advocate Lead, Damia Garcia by e-mailing

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