#StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Mar 11, 2015 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Brad Miner, originally from a small town in northeast Pennsylvania, found his passion for Study Abroad and International Education while studying abroad in Costa Rica and New Zealand and by having the good fortune of traveling to Fiji, Nicaragua, and Panama. He is currently living in the southwestern portion of PA enjoying his position as the Study Abroad Coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Brad loves that on a daily basis he gets to relive his study abroad experience and help students have their own incredible time abroad.

 

Brad Miner in NZ. #StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

In New Zealand!

 

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

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of traveling the world. I was immediately sold on study abroad as soon as I found out that I could achieve my dream of traveling AND get academic credit towards my undergraduate degree. It was a perfect opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up for anything.

I chose my study abroad locations based on two factors: language acquisition and adventure. Although I spent my second semester abroad in New Zealand, it was the first one I planned. I chose to study abroad in New Zealand with The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) because I wanted to participate on all the extreme activities such as bungee jumping, zorbing, and glacier hiking. New Zealand is also where Lord of the Rings was filmed and I’m (slightly) obsessed with the trilogy. I chose to study abroad in Costa Rica with Academic Programs International (API) because I wanted to learn the Spanish language and by attending API’s early-start semester program I was able to complete nearly all the requirements to add a Spanish minor to my degree!

 

Brad Miner, Costa Rica Waterfall. #StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

Costa Rica waterfall

 

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

My experience was life-changing, plain and simple. It’s nearly impossible to pick out a single favorite memory but a few awesome experiences I had were bungee jumping the highest bungee in Latin America while in Costa Rica, volcano surfing down Cerro Negro in Nicaragua, snorkeling in starfish fields in Panama, catching the sunrise atop a mountain in Fiji, and road tripping throughout New Zealand.

Probably one of the biggest challenges I faced while abroad was dealing with a few relationships with individuals back home. While abroad, some relationships with friends back home became strained and it was harder to maintain contact as not everyone understand the life-changing events that were occurring in my life due to my study abroad experience. Overall, it made me a better person and made me realize that life is too short to surround yourself with individuals who give off negative energy.

 

Bungee jumping in Costa Rica. #StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

Bungee jumping in Costa Rica

 

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

My experience abroad definitely has changed me. I think it is impossible to not be changed in some way when you go abroad. Going abroad took me way outside of my comfort zone and from that I’ve developed a level of confidence and cultural awareness I would not have had the opportunity to develop otherwise.

 

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

Without my experience abroad, I would not be where I am today nor would I be the same person. My study abroad experience opened up my eyes to the world and to myself. By stepping outside my comfort zone, I realized that the education/career path I was on was not where I wanted to be. Initially, I was dead-set on pursuing a doctorate degree for clinical psychology, but during my time abroad something clicked and I realized my true passion was within the international education field. Fast forward a couple years and everything panned out, as I now manage a one-person study abroad office at the Greensburg regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

 

New Zealand mountains. #StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

New Zealand mountains

 

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

Every day I am able to give advice about study abroad to students at my university – the question is whether or not they actually listen to it and/or believe it. One thing that I try to stress to every student I talk to is that it is possible – no matter their situation. I understand that students are worried about finances, missing out on things back home, time constraints, etc. but these are just (sometimes) excuses. There are a ton of resources out there, and at times the options can be overwhelming, but the real key point that I try to implant in their heads is that “where there is a will, there is a way.” I am here to help them figure out how they too can have a life-changing experience abroad.

 

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

International education has definitely broadened my cultural identity. Before studying abroad, I was just a small-town-kid from rural northeastern Pennsylvania, and now I consider myself a global citizen and call home anywhere in the world I choose to make it.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

If you are considering going abroad, stop thinking about it and just do it! When you go abroad, go with an open mind and don’t worry about what could go wrong; sometimes the most memorable experiences are created by plans going astray and by being spontaneous.

 

Zorbing in New Zealand. #StudyAbroadBecause The World is Waiting

Zorbing in New Zealand

 

#StudyAbroadBecause…The World is Waiting Right Outside Your Comfort Zone!

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Brad Miner