Kaylie Adams interned in the TEAN Chicago office this Summer. A student at the University of Dayton, Kaylie studied abroad in Australia with TEAN, then became a TEAN Student Ambassador once back on her U.S. campus. Editor’s note: Kaylie is possibly TEAN’s biggest fan.
It’s hard to mention studying abroad without mentioning the lessons you learn during the process. You gain independence. You foster an appreciation for foreign lands that were once just specs on a globe to you—lands that now, are second homes. You meet people who live entirely different lives than you, but somehow you find that thread of commonality and suddenly gain insight into the fact that we’re not all so different after all. The lessons each of us learns are numerous; the memories each of us have are eternal. However, one thing that isn’t always mentioned when people talk about their studying abroad experiences is the organization that helped you get there; I am proudly an exception to that.
I remember my study abroad research period as if it was yesterday. My heart was set on Australia but I knew it was an expensive place so I had to be smart and economical. Who was going to give me the most for my money? Who was going to treat me like person? I didn’t want to be just a tick in a company’s tally marks or a name attached to an email. I narrowed it down to three options but my indecisive personality was in full force. It wasn’t until I took a trip to my former high school, dropped a mention of studying abroad to a teacher there, and had a 20-minute chat with Kate McSurley that my future was forever changed. Scary how that can happen, isn’t it? I started that 20-minute phone call with three organizations still in mind, and I would venture to say it only took about five minutes into the call to drop two of them and have my heart set not only on Bond University, but also more importantly, The Education Abroad Network. At that moment, my vision of what my future would entail was ignorant at best because I only had a sliver of exposure to just how much TEAN would take care of me, even after coming home from Australia.
Frantic phone calls were made and many emails were sent before my departure, all of which Kate politely answered. She never gave any inclination that it was probably the same question she’s answered 100 times in the week. I felt taken care of. I felt like, at that moment, I was the most important person to Kate. I was more than a name to an email address and a tick in TEAN’s tally marks. As I’ve repeatedly said during and since my abroad experience, I was used to flying solo during decision periods or when it came to preparing for something—TEAN swooped in and stopped me from doing that. They hold your hand. They’re one step ahead of you, all the time. They just get it.
I can also continue on and on about Helen, my Gold Coast Resident Director, as if she was my Australian mom. I looked forward to cultural events she organized for us just to see her smiling, cheery self and to once again solidify the life-changing experience of not only going abroad, but also choosing to go abroad through TEAN. She remembered our names, stories, quirks, and even interests as if we were her American children. Helen made being away from our families a little easier because she opened up her life to us.
I had a preconceived notion that once I came back stateside, TEAN’s job was done. I’ve never been more okay with admitting I was wrong. I joined the elite group of TEAN Alumni Student Ambassadors when I got back to campus and spoke with interested students about their upcoming study abroad experiences. At the end of the semester I somehow convinced everyone that I had sufficiently completed my Ambassador responsibilities and was asked to become a summer intern at TEAN’s office, a position my dreams were centered around. I now get to experience just how hard TEAN works to send its student off properly. I get to reap the opportunities TEAN diligently puts out there. Had someone told me all of these opportunities existed within a study abroad organization, I would’ve laughed and said, “Yeah, in a dream world.” Well, TEAN is a dream world. Their staff, mission, core values, and everything about them make me excited to walk into the office every day. Everyone’s love for what they’re doing translates into a prospering office atmosphere. The positive environment makes you forget about any of the outside problems you could be having. For that, and for everything else, I owe TEAN my happiness.