CIEE Study Abroad Alumni Shares Advice to Students with Disabilities
In the spring of 2009, I studied abroad in Rennes, France with CIEE. Despite my every desire to study abroad in Paris, Rennes proved to be more wheelchair accessible and easier to navigate. With admittedly some hesitation, I embarked on what ended up being the best five months of my life. Studying abroad in general is an incredibly humbling experience. I learned so much about myself through both challenges and incomparable adventure. My goal while I was abroad was to have an experience like the rest of my peers. I lived with a host family, took classes at the local university, and traveled with my friends on holidays. I took risks and embraced challenges and took advantage of every opportunity that allowed me to make the most of my time in Rennes. The best part of study abroad was the friendships I formed and the confidence my experience instilled in me. After my experience abroad with CIEE, I returned to Rennes after I graduated from college and spent two years as a teaching assistant in a public high school. Without my initial experience studying abroad, I would have never dreamed of my two years in France as even a remote possibility or opportunity. I learned to advocate for myself and coincidentally found my passion: teaching. After moving back to the United States in 2012, I applied to graduate school to get my Master’s in Education. I moved to Austin in 2013 on a whim. I packed up my car, convinced a friend to be my co-pilot, and started masters class in the fall at Texas State University. Studying abroad didn’t hand me these opportunities, but the experience taught me to problem solve, embrace challenge, take risks, and fostered a special sense of adventure. My advice to students with disabilities who are considering studying abroad isn’t to accept EVERY challenge and jump into an experience you’re not ready for, but rather to think of studying abroad as an opportunity to learn who you are and consider the possibility and opportunities study abroad offers.