#StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Feb 08, 2015 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a passionate writer, educator, social media ninja, speaker and global citizen who has traveled to over one hundred countries and six continents. You might find her underwater, traveling to an exotic location, teaching in the classroom or in print about social media, science education, lifelong learning, books, and travel. She studied abroad in Jerusalem during her junior year of college, and has traveled the world since. You can find her site at WeSaidGoTravel.com.

 

Lisa Niver, travel writer and global explorer. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

 

Lisa Niver, travel writer. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

As a travel expert for USA Today, I stayed at the Fairmont Miramar and was given the Presidential Suite. When I first went to Israel on a teen tour, I had no idea that someday I would write for USA Today, film with Orbitz, and get to stay in Bungalow One!

 

Were you always interested in studying abroad? What motivated your decision to go abroad?

During the summer, I went to Jewish summer camp. When I was 15, I joined with a large group of teens from Los Angeles for a six week summer study tour in Israel. I had the best time. I decided that summer that I would spend my junior year abroad in Jerusalem, and I did.

 

What was your study abroad experience like? Where did you go?

My semester in Jerusalem at Hebrew University was incredible. I had been learning Hebrew, but now I had the opportunity to really practice with my Israeli roommate. I knew I was speaking well when we had a fight in Hebrew about her boyfriend staying over.

 

Lisa Niver, Penn Graduation. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

During college at University of Pennsylvania, I wondered if I left school to study abroad would I lose friends? I realized my friends in Philly were happy to see me when I got back and thrilled that I had new tales to tell!

 

What skills did you develop from your experience abroad?

Many times when I have had to make a decision it has been informed by places I have traveled. When I left graduate school, one of the things I wanted was to live abroad like I did in Jerusalem. I investigated ways to work and live in another country.

 

Lisa Niver, Bermuda. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

In Nov 2014, I was invited to be a paid Travel Host for Orbtiz and the Bermuda Tourism Board! My week there was fantastic! The theme of the videos is #ProperFun so I am in this photo as a Proper Traveler.

 

Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

My perspective is different after being in so many other countries. I remember wondering about Laos and how did they survive with no coastline, but then I traveled there and understood the network of rivers. Traveling across the Dardanelles, I realized it is so narrow. I could better relate to the discussion of who controls it and how important it is after being there.

 

Lisa Niver, swimming with jellyfish in Palau. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

I was invited to a FAM Trip in Palau. YES! A week long trip of hotels, restaurants, SCUBA diving and swimming with jellyfish in exchange for writing articles. This really was like a dream come true!

 

What were some challenges that you observed that happened on your study abroad experience?

One of the biggest challenges was to return home. I think the shock of returning is very hard. I wish I had been encouraged to write more about it at the time. I think having a place to share those feelings would have been important to an easier re-entry.

 

Lisa Niver enjoying Park City, Utah with her family in January 2015. My family has always loved to travel and taught me to enjoy trips both local and international. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

Lisa Niver enjoying Park City, Utah with her family in January 2015. My family has always loved to travel and taught me to enjoy trips both local and international.

 

How did you prepare to go abroad? What steps did you take that really helped you? What advice would you share with other students?

For every trip and time abroad, I always research and ask questions to see what it will be like. I think asking people who are recently back gives the best information. When I was traveling North from China to Mongolia, the best information was from a traveler who had just come South from Mongolia to China.

 

Lisa Niver with alligator! #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

Yes, I did spend Easter Sunday at the Playboy mansion! I pet a camel, held an alligator and fed squirrel monkeys. My friend Lanie brought the animals and I was in charge of the bunnies, ducks and chicks. I made sure none of the children loved those cute little animals to death! Lanie and I had worked together in the classroom and since I was in town I got to help!

 

Many students worry about the cost of going abroad. How did you pay for you study abroad experience? Were there any scholarships and grants available? Any tips you would recommend to students who’re interested in going abroad?

I won two grants to travel to Belize as a teacher on an Earthwatch expedition for an incredible research trip with SCUBA diving. I definitely recommend applying to as many grants, scholarships and awards that you qualify for. Even if you don't win, you will get more practice for another chance and the questions may help you rethink your trip or plan. My We Said Go Travel Writing Contest has cash prizes and you can share your stories.

 

Lisa Niver scuba Copamarina. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

In March 2014, I filmed in Puerto Rico as co-host with Richard Bangs, Orbitz, and the Puerto Rican Tourism board. I loved the SCUBA diving so much, it became its own video in the series!

 

Lisa Niver, Copamarina. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

I loved being on the water in Puerto Rico. It was great to film with a team and explore this beautiful area.

 

Did anything about your study abroad shock or surprise you?

I was surprised how much I loved it! I made new friends, traveled to Italy for Spring Break and took an archaeology class. Every Thursday we visited another ancient site and learned history. I heard about King David and was in the site of his castle. I highly recommend study abroad.

 

During 18 months of wandering around South East Asia, I visited many UNESCO sites. At Hampi, a group of schoolchildren on a field trip wanted to learn about me and America. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

During 18 months of wandering around South East Asia, I visited many UNESCO sites. At Hampi, a group of schoolchildren on a field trip wanted to learn about me and America.

 

Did your study abroad experience ever come up in a job interview?

My travels always come up in interviews. In fact, while I was in Asia for 11 months, I had an interview over Skype from Vietnam! Most employers are thrilled to hear about travel as it shows initiative, adaptability, and flexibility.

 

The Rock Islands of Palau are stunningly beautiful. I was honored to be asked to visit and share about my adventures in the South Pacific. #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

The Rock Islands of Palau are stunningly beautiful. I was honored to be asked to visit and share about my adventures in the South Pacific.

 

Has your study abroad experience helped you to get where you are today career-wise? If so, how?

YES! Travel inspired me to write, start We Said Go Travel, and believe in myself more.

 

What is a favorite memory that you had from your study abroad experience(s)?

I loved wandering in the Old City and visiting the Western Wall at all times of day. I really felt at home.

 

Lisa Niver as a baby! #StudyAbroadBecause Your Whole Life Will Change

My mom used to make outfits for me and my sister. I was always ready for an adventure!

 

What is up next for you?

In November 2014, I was hired by Orbitz and the Bermuda Tourism Board to be a travel host for a series of seven videos. I plan to do more traveling and more videos. My YouTube channel has over 300 videos and nearly 300,000 views.
 

I have been writing for USA Today as a Los Angeles Travel Expert and starting in 2015 I am now listed as a Travel Expert and will be writing about destinations all over our planet.
 

The 7th We Said Go Travel Writing Contest is open and there will be two more this year. I may even start a video contest this year as well. So far over 1600 writers from 75 countries have shared their stories—I hope you will participate!
 

The We Said Go Travel Global Alliance did 12 million impressions on a six day campaign for #LuxeExperience. Do you have questions about social media? We can help!
 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Lisa Niver

 

 

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