Monday, September 26, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant, Part I: Introductions!

Hi Tulane! 

Welcome to our weekly feature, A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant! This fall, we have partnered with a Tulane sophomore who will be applying to one of the Office of Study Abroad international programs for her junior year! She has agreed to give everyone on campus this insider view of what it's like to search for the right study abroad program and go through the application process! We are so excited to have her sharing her experiences with you! Take it away, Emily!

My super-beautiful hometown,
Hampton, NH
My name is Emily Bonenfant and I am a sophomore from Hampton, New Hampshire majoring in Environmental Studies, with minors in International Development and Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. I’m also a social media intern in the Office of Study Abroad this year. One of my responsibilities will be to take you along with me as I try to figure out where I’m going to study abroad next year!

One of the main reasons I came to Tulane is because I am so passionate about Spanish and travel. I always knew I wanted to study abroad during my junior year. When I was researching colleges, I was very impressed by how many study abroad programs Tulane offers and by how I am able to use my scholarships and financial aid package to be able to afford spending a whole year living in another country! (And, I will still be able to graduate on time, even with two minors!)

When I first moved to New Orleans and campus, though, I lived like a typical freshman. I joined the Green Club, Outreach Tulane and started the process to become a Green Wave Ambassador. Yes, that is me you see walking backwards all over campus. I also got elected as Vice President of Communications for the Tulane chapter of Food for Thought and Action, a non-profit with a branch here in New Orleans. I was learning about stuff I’d never thought about before, like entrepreneurship and international development organizations. Taking college-level Spanish really challenged me, too, but I still loved it! Study abroad was kind of on my mind, but as a freshman, I was so busy getting used to campus life that I didn’t think about it too much.

After freshman year, I went home over the summer and really had a lot of time to think about what I loved about traveling. I realized how much I loved experiencing new cultures, learning languages and meeting people from all around the world. I was going to tackle planning my study abroad during my sophomore year. Now, I’m back here on campus and starting to really give it all some thought. I know I definitely want to become as fluent as possible in Spanish and I also want to study topics related to my major – Environmental Studies – but in a totally new and different place. It’s been so cool to learn about New Orleans and the different environmental issues we have to deal with down here. So, I think I can gain a totally new perspective by studying the same topics somewhere else, too. 
Here I am at the famous windmills in Consuegra, Spain,
the site of Miguel de Cervantes' inspiration to write Don Quixote!
I have a little bit of international experience already, which has only made me more excited about studying abroad. I remember the first time I ever left the country. I went to five different cities in Spain when I was in high school and even took a day trip to Tetouan, Morocco, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! I also got the chance to visit the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.  One thing I really loved from those experiences that I hope to have again during my junior year abroad is learning about cultures that are totally new to me.

At this point, I don’t need to worry about applications yet – the deadline for studying abroad next fall is still a few months away. So for the next month or so, I’ll be researching my options on the Office of Study Abroad website and going to a bunch of different events to try and get as much information as possible so I can make a decision. Of course, I still have all of my responsibilities on campus and my classes, but I’m excited to learn about all of the places I can go!

Tetouan, Morocco
Through this blog, I hope to help my fellow Tulanians use all of the resources OSA has to offer, to find the right program for them that meets your academic goals and personal interests, and also to figure out all of the policies about study abroad that we need to know about!

Macaws in the Osa Peninsula
in Costa Rica!
Check back every Monday to see what I get up to next!