#StudyAbroadBecause no one will ever be able to take the experience away from you

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jan 30, 2015 / 0 comments

Vanessa Chiasson is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media strategist living based in Ottawa and her blog, TurnipseedTravel.com, focuses on getting great value around the world. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @Turnipseeds


Vanessa Chiasson today, working on the road in Bruges as a travel writer.

Vanessa today, working on the road in Bruges as a travel writer.


What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

I always dreamed about studying abroad. I'm not sure where the drive to travel came from, but even when I was little I would collect travel related items (like collapsible cups!) and dream of seeing the world. I did a youth exchange to Germany when I was 16, and later, when I in the preliminary stages of looking at universities, choosing a school with a good study abroad experience was a priority.


What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?

I studied at the Queen's University International Study Centre in Herstmonceux, England. It was an incredible semester. I really thrived in the small classroom environment and I loved how well the different study modules fit together. I was studying political science and history and I was in the perfect area to do so - there were so many amazing field trips that integrated with the study program. I've never been so passionate about my schoolwork - I was so motivated to learn as much as I could about every single thing I was studying and I had access to all that I needed - the books, the historic locations, the maps, everything.


 A vintage shot of the "castle" which was my study centre. #studyabroadbecause

 A vintage shot of the "castle" which was my study centre


What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

Being in an environment where I was so motivated to study really put me in touch with understanding myself better - what made me proud, what made me feel satisfied, what motivated me, what wasn't a good fit for me. Even now, nearly 15 years later, I'm still benefiting from those lessons. Some of them I didn't recognize when I was younger, but I've come to appreciate them now.


Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?

Today, I'm a travel writer and Im self-employed. I think that seeing how putting in hard work brought positive results in my study abroad program has served as motivation for me today.  For years, I worked in a traditional work place and I was so unsatisfied. Looking back, I feel like I was always trying to get back to that place I had found, that person I was, when I was studying in England. My only regret was not chasing my own career path earlier.


What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?

I think studying abroad is like running a marathon - it can take a lot of work, it can take a lot of sacrifice, and sometimes people will look at you like you're crazy. But no one will ever be able to take it away from you. You'll always be someone who did this for themselves.

Financially, my study abroad experience was very challenging - the exchange rate between the Canadian dollar and the British pound was abysmal! Studying abroad meant the small treats I afforded myself in college had to go. Studying abroad meant a poor balance sheet but a very enriching experience.


Vanessa Chiasson, travel writer who studied abroad


How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

For better or worse, the stereotypes of Canadians abroad really are true. Everyone really does seem to love us! It made me more conscious of my actions and behavior when I realized how every little thing I did contributed to an overall reputation that other Canadians enjoy.

and lastly, please finish this twitter-friendly slogan on why you love study abroad: #StudyAbroadBecause...


#StudyAbroadBecause no one will ever be able to take the experience away from you.


This is part of a series on international education, as part of our commitment to #GenerationStudyAbroad and our commitment to the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. You'll find many more inspiring stories here on Wandering Educators! Do you have one to share?



All photos courtesy and copyright Vanessa Chiasson