On Tuesday, September 15, 2015, over eighty members of the Colby community including students, faculty, and staff gathered to share good food and stories about their study abroad experiences and welcome seniors returning from study abroad back to Colby.
Our message to students returning from study abroad is that, although it may feel as though you have closed the chapter on study abroad, there are many ways in which to reopen it. There are several ways to perpetuate your experiences abroad. Among them:
- Reflection: Reflect on your experience. Think about it, talk about it, write about it, and integrate it into your academic path at Colby. We hope you will post a story, a lesson you learned, or some photos of your favorite places or people on the OCS Blog. It is only through reflection that you can truly grow and learn from your time away. It will be with you for a long time to come and it may change you in ways you can’t even anticipate.
- Global Ambassadors: Another way to reflect on your experience while helping others plan theirs is by getting involved with OCS as a Global Ambassador. OCS wants your input, feedback, and your help. As a Global Ambassador, you can help other students plan for their time away by participating on student panels, in information sessions, by doing outreach, and much more. Your participation assists OCS in assisting students.
- Discover your Career Skills through the “Marketing Your International Experience” workshop: One way to reflect on your experience and examine the skills you have gained from it is to participate in this collaborative workshop conducted by the Career Center & OCS. In this interactive, hand-on workshop, you will practice ways to unpack your experience and present it effectively in the context of the job search. This is not as easy to do as it may sound. It requires practice!
- Photo contest: Submit your photos!
- Student Exhibit during International Education Week: November 16-20, 2015 is International Education week. The Colby Around the World exhibit held last April was initiated by a group of returned study abroad students, like you, who wanted to share aspects of their experiences abroad with the Colby community. Help us organize a fun celebration of international education this November to share your experiences, stories, images of your international experience in a wide variety of possible media and formats.
Once we are back home, it is all too easy to forget the adjustment challenges, emotional roller coaster, and general stress that can exacerbate or trigger pre-existing physical or mental health conditions, or, in some cases, cause new health conditions to emerge. This is a side of study abroad that is rarely talked about and almost considered taboo. In the coming year, various campus-based groups (including the Counseling Center, Health center, Off-campus study, and students) will collaborate on a mental health and study abroad awareness initiative to raise awareness, demystify, and provide information on resources to help students prepare themselves for their time away. If you’d like to participate in this project, please let us know.