#StudyAbroadBecause You Get To Find Your True Self

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Olivia Darr is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Communications. She’s also in the process of completing certificates in Global Studies, Community/Corporate Relations, and Nonprofit Management. Throughout her time at Pitt, she’s been lucky enough to participate in five study abroad programs, all of which have helped shape her into who she is today. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
Ever since I completed an abroad summer program in high school, traveling has been a passion of mine. Coming to college, I made it my goal to travel to as many places as possible. In the summer of 2015 after my freshman year, I participated in the Pitt in Greece program and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve completed four more programs on three continents (Pitt in Spain, Pitt in Sydney (Australia), Pitt in Ecuador, Pitt in Sweden). In choosing the locations of my programs, I wanted to expand my horizons as much as possible and choose locations as different as possible. If I get the chance to do one last program before graduation, I will definitely choose a location in Africa. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?
Oh man, my experiences. I feel extremely lucky to have had the amount of experiences I have had. It’s so hard to think of a single experience or memory that rises above all of the others. From making chocolate in Tena, Ecuador, to jumping off cliffs in Karpathos, Greece, to scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, each program that I have participated in has given me life-long memories that I will look back upon forever. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad? 
First and foremost, the most prominent skill I have learned from my travels is patience. Things don’t always go along with the plan or itinerary and that is okay! Sometimes, the best experiences and memories are made when you have to improvise. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?
The classes that I have taken have increased my interest in marketing and communications. Eventually, I’d like to work for a travel company or in a study abroad office at a college or university. I think the experiences I’ve had on my programs will help me in that area as well. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?
Make a budget beforehand and try to stick to it, but don’t limit yourself from experiences because of money. If there is something you really want to do or see and money might be a little bit tight, try to make it work - you won’t regret it. Remember, the program you are on is a once in a lifetime experience, so try to take advantage of everything as much as you can. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
I feel as if international education has given me a much more in depth insight on our world. You can sit in class and learn about a culture, but immersing yourself in the culture is the best way to learn. The things you see and learn while you are in-country will have much more meaning and context to you since you have so much more to relate it to. 

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
If you do get the opportunity to study abroad, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You’ll look back on these memories and experience for the rest of the life and you’ll be so thankful that you did everything. You’re only in the country for a short amount of time, so try to take it all in while you can. 

#StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

Olivia Darr: #StudyAbroadBecause... You Get To Find Your True Self

 

Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.

You can read more of her #studyabroadbecause interviews, as well as articles on various forms of international education at home and abroad, here.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Olivia Darr

 

 

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