Category Archives: Study Abroad

Graduation Reflections & Going Forward

Standard

And just like that…I am now an International MBA graduate of the Moore School of Business! April and May have been two of the busiest months of my life, completing my last semester of graduate school, preparing for graduation, searching for housing in Greenville, moving across the country, visiting family, and planning summer vacations before my next chapter begins at Michelin.

18275153_10155332383104524_119909786192015626_n

Thank you so much for your patience in my time of transition – I can’t wait to be more active on inspirNational again once everything is settled this summer. Right now is one of my first moments in months where I have more than a half hour to spare as I am waiting for my trip to Seattle to begin. I have so many thoughts to share with you about my last few months, including my weekend trips to Savannah, Charleston, and Traverse City, my graduation, and my reflections as I prepare for my next life phase. Over the next several weeks, I will share these thoughts with you.

To begin, I wanted to pass along my graduation speech that I shared at the MBA Soiree on the evening before my graduation. It captures the essence of my IMBA experience and was an honor to represent my class.

“Hi Everyone! My name is Brittany VanderBeek. I am an International MBA graduate in the French track, who studied supply chain management and business analytics. As the MBA Student Association President, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

First of all, thank you to MBA Programs Office for making today possible and for your endless support throughout our MBA journey.

Thank you to the faculty and staff here today who have been there every step of the way – pushing us to reach our potential, growing our understanding of the world, supporting us when we need it most, and cheering us on during our successes.

Thank you to all members of the Student Association for your enthusiasm and hard work to represent the voice of our class and to plan events to strengthen our MBA community.

To our families and friends – thank you all for being here to celebrate the MBA graduates. We couldn’t be more grateful for your support throughout our lives.

To the graduates – it is incredible to think how far we have come. Let’s take a minute to reflect. To the International MBAs – in two or three years we learned another language, completed the core business curriculum, specialized, and earned additional certifications. To the One-Year MBAs – how amazing that you completed all of your business curriculum and certifications in less than a year! At the same time, all of us were maintaining on our relationships and our homes, making new friends, getting involved on campus, going to football and basketball games, and staying in touch with loved ones. Some of us welcomed new life into the world, some of us have said goodbye to loved ones, but all of us have prepared for an incredible life ahead of us. We have had our fair share of challenges, but we have also had some of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. I can say that the Moore community, especially all of you, are what made my experience possible. As I mentioned at our welcome mixer, we have created a lifelong network and community. I hope that we all take what we have learned and soar in our careers throughout the world. I also hope that we never forget our roots at the Moore School and come back to visit.

Let’s toast to the graduating class of 2017 – I couldn’t be more proud to be standing next to all of you! Thank you!”

Reflecting upon graduation, it was one of the most hectic, but also exciting few days of my IMBA experience. I was very grateful for my mom, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s family who attended my ceremony and festivities. I was also grateful to attend my boyfriend’s graduation ceremony from law school, which was an incredible experience because we both graduated at the Horseshoe, one of the University of South Carolina’s idyllic locations. One day I was the graduate and the next day I was the attendee, which made my experience feel full circle. The University of South Carolina business and law schools treated us graduates and our families like gold, with delicious Southern food, cocktails, and live performers (I’ll never forget the steel drummers after my graduation!). I am so happy that I experienced graduation, but I am also glad that I can now move on and relax (or more so travel and visit family) this summer.

18300926_10155332380134524_6986972979594263321_n

I hope you all have an inspirNational weekend (and holiday weekend for those in the United States)! Off to Seattle for my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding and to visit my best friend from preschool – I can only imagine what stories I will have to share with you over the next couple of weeks!

International Education Week – Celebrate with Melibee Global!

Standard

In honor of International Education Week, I wanted to pass along a Melibee Global article to give you ideas to celebrate. International Education Week reminds us to be inspirNational in our everyday lives – to learn from others, to seek understanding, to embrace diversity, and to have a traveler’s mindset.

iew-2013-logo-final

Thank you to Kyle Rausch from Melibee Global for the great ideas!

“The fall semester is now underway for institutions across the U.S. and before you know it November will be here, and along with it, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’  International Education Week (IEW)! IEW 2016 will fall on November 14-18 this year, and while many institutions find this a great time to host their study abroad fair or have international student clubs table at the student union, we here at Melibee have been brainstorming more creative ideas for you to try on your campus. Check out some of our team’s ideas below and share how your institution will be celebrating the power of international education in the comments.

1. International Pictionary

Create a simple international version of Pictionary: forget the traditional game board, instead, come up  with some basic categories like “emotions,” “slang,” “daily living!”  Invite students to the game and pair an international student with a domestic student and have them play against another team. Just as in traditional Pictionary, no talking is allowed, but you can throw in the possibility of letting domestic students speak if they only use words they might know in their international partner’s native language. Hang the most culturally-revealing images on the wall in a common area with a photo of the players and their home countries – each with a short reflection on what they learned!

2. World Distance Signage

Do the students on your campus know where you offer study abroad opportunities?  Do they know where your study abroad office is located?  Create a sign like the one in the image with the distances between your campus and your study abroad program locations!  Put it in a high traffic area on campus with a sign that points to your education abroad office.

3. Chopped: International Campus Edition

Put a new twist on the global café concept and instead of simply having international or cultural groups prepare traditional dishes for your campus, make it a competition!  Campus or local chefs could come together to pick out two countries at random and then compete to make a dish inspired by the flavors or traditional dishes of those countries.  The panel of judges could be students…better yet, international students from the countries that are selected!

4. Explore Your Ancestry

We all come from somewhere and it shapes our identity. Short of each of us researching and constructing a massive family tree, there are ways we can ponder who we are and why we are the ways we are. Melibee offers exploration of identity through some unique speakers such as Santos (Glocal Soul Identity in a Global and Local Context),  Michael W. Twitty (Kosher/Soul: Black/Jewish Identity Cooking), and Jennifer Hamady (Voice Across Cultures).  Of course, we offer lots of unique speakers that are ideal for IEW and other events, too. You can see the full roster here.

5. International Campus Recipes

Food…it’s one of everyone’s favorite ways to get acquainted with another culture.  Hence another foodie idea! Capture the diversity of your campus by creating a recipe book to represent all the various countries and cultures on your campus.  Ask for submissions from everyone: staff, faculty, and students.  Encourage them to share their favorite food from another country, the recipe, and what memory is attached to that recipe. Partner with your campus dining services to share the recipes and to cook the food too! Publish the recipes online or in print and sell it for donations to go towards study abroad scholarships. Then you can host an event during IEW that features some of the recipes in the book freshly prepared!

6. Pokémon Go Abroad!

One of this year’s biggest fads is Pokémon Go and there are numerous ways in which your campus can leverage its popularity, even during IEW!  Most campuses are hotspots for Pokémon Go activity, so find out where all the Pokéstops are on your campus and make sure to host some of your IEW events near a Pokéstop and drop some lures to encourage students that play the game to stop by your event.

Many Pokémon are based on wildlife in the real world, and often wildlife that is regional specific.  Host an art or photo campaign (with works created by students) that compares the fictional characters with their real life counterparts and educates students on their native environs.

Have some Pokémon gyms on your campus?  Schedule a window of time where Pokémon Go’s three teams can do battle at one of your campus gym spots with the team who holds the gym the longest during that period of time winning some sort of international prize (think simple international swag: create Pokémon/International themed t-shirts, water bottles, sunglasses etc.)

In addition to some Pokémon being more common or rare depending upon the region you are in, some Pokémon can only be found in certain countries/regions of the world.  Have your students abroad tweet or Instagram the rare Pokémon they’ve caught while abroad using a branded hashtag and the #IEW2016 hashtag.

The possibilities are endless–if you don’t know where to start, ask some students who play the game–they’ll have ideas!  For some of the basics on the game, check out this website.

7. International House Hunter: Dorm Edition

What are student accommodations like in other countries?  Host an exhibition curated by a team of domestic and international students about what residential life is like on international campuses.  Have a photo gallery set up to give your domestic students the insider’s view of what other countries’ residence halls look like compared to those of the U.S.  At each installation, have international students and information about exchange partners on hand.

8. International Dog Fair

Does your institution bring puppies on campus during finals week for stress-relief?  If not–this is a hit with students!  Host a “Dogs From Around the World” event for the dog lovers on your campus.  Since different breeds hail from different countries around the world, you could have various breeds represented by different countries that students could pet and play with, learn about, and couple that with other international information about that country, including your study abroad program opportunities.

There you have it! Eight unique ideas to get your campus engaged with International Education Week 2016! Share you ideas or how your modifying these in the comment section below – and happy #IEW2016!”

Universal Lessons from an International MBA Internship

Standard

Capturing one of my international career insights posts below. For those of you interested in a career in international business or earning an International MBA, I hope that these insights are helpful!


My International MBA (IMBA) program at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business has been an exciting opportunity for me to pause, reflect, refine, and prepare to re-enter the workforce with a global perspective of business, cross-cultural and inclusive managerial skills, and enhanced technical skills in business analytics and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt process improvement.

Half way through my IMBA program, I embarked on an internship journey with Michelin’s Global Leadership Program. The internship provided me with an incredible opportunity to engage in challenging projects in supply chain management and human resources, to gain broad exposure to the business and senior leaders, and to give back to the community. I couldn’t have asked for a more empowering or exciting internship.

Image Source: BSN International

Image Source: BSN International

Throughout my internship, I learned some universal lessons that I will carry with me throughout my career and wanted to pass along to others working on their MBA or interested in getting an MBA.

  1. Be humble. Humility is one of the most impactful, yet often forgotten about, leadership qualities. So often getting an MBA and the interviewing process lead people to brag and have a “better than” attitude, rather than focusing on what they can do for others and what teams can achieve together. When we remember that we are all people, we become much easier to work with and work for as managers.
  2. Manage your 3P’s – Purpose, People, and Projects. I “coined” these 3P’s to help me juggle priorities throughout the summer. First, focusing on purpose has reminded me to take a step back and remember why I am here and what my vision is for the world. Then, focusing on people has reinforced the importance of family, friends, and co-workers in my daily decisions and actions. People are what make the world go ‘round. They bring joy to our days, impact our lives, challenge us to improve, and influence our future as our advocates. Grounded by my first priorities of purpose and people, I am able to strategize, innovate, manage, and execute my projects well.
  3. Ask questions. As my dad always reminds me, when you ask for something, the worst answer you will get is “no.” So, why not ask questions? My curious and inquisitive nature has enabled me to learn from more people than ever expected and has helped me be resourceful and efficient this summer.
  4. Be opportunistic. Related to asking questions, it is important to seek out opportunities and voice your ideas whenever possible. Seeking opportunities, finding connections, and utilizing strengths and resources of a team has enabled me to develop an inaugural sustainability collaboration with Michelin, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take the backroads. This is a literal and metaphorical lesson. The backroads may take longer when we are traveling, but they often help us avoid traffic and are more predictable for transit timing. They also help us discover and appreciate new areas that we may have not otherwise experienced by taking the direct route. This also applies to the workplace, where the direct route may seem the most obvious to complete a project, but the backroads may lead us to more innovative thinking, new connections, and new opportunities. Something to consider as we are working on project management in our MBAs and beyond.

As always, this is an open dialogue. I would be grateful to hear from those of you who have earned (or are pursuing) your MBA and have lessons to share with the international community.

Weekend Trip Ideas from Paris, France

Standard

Are you about to travel to or study abroad in France? After studying in Paris for almost four months and experiencing a Trafalgar tour of France a few years ago, I can tell you some of my favorite weekend trips to help spark ideas for your travel planning. I limited each recommendation to a couple sentences – if you have questions, feel free to comment and I can share more ideas with you!

  • Giverny: My absolute favorite place slightly outside of Paris, where you can tour Monet’s home. Explore the water lily ponds, luscious gardens, and quaint home where Monet and his family resided.
dscn4667

Giverny with my mom in August 2011

  • Palace of Versailles: Learn why the French revolution occurred based on the extraordinary, ornate palace from the French royal families. I can almost guarantee that you will likely never see so much gold in one building at one time.
dscn4748

Palace of Versailles with my mom in August 2011

  • Bordeaux: Enjoy the best wine in the world with a Bordeaux wine country tour. I enjoyed Medoc which has stronger red wines. If you prefer lighter red wines, go to St. Emilion. The Bordeaux Tourism Office offers excellent city walking tours for affordable prices, great views, and interesting history.
  • Normandy: Visit Deauville, the home of Coco Chanel, and Honfleur where you will find artsy neighborhoods and sailboats. While I did not have the opportunity to see the World War II battle fields, I would also highly recommend going there to see one of the most emotional historical sites.
  • Brittany: Visit St. Malo for a medieval experience along the sea. Try both sweet and savory crepes, which are originally from Brittany. Tour Mont St. Michel to see one of the wonders of the world. The cathedral and castle are incredible.
12644833_10153881696874524_268963054605648570_n

Mont St. Michel in January 2016

  • Strasbourg: Go on the Happy Tour to learn the city’s history of the city, including political control issues between Germany and France and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.  Admire the fairytale-like buildings and enjoy a mix of German and French cuisine.
  • French Riviera:Explore some of the most beautiful cliff-dwelling beaches of France and posh shopping in Nice and St. Tropez. Explore the playground of the rich and famous in Monaco.
  • Arles: Enjoy Vincent Van Gogh’s home where he painted over 300 pieces of artwork and explore ancient Roman ruins.
  • Lyon: Experience the third largest city in France that has become a gastronomical capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • London: Take the 2-hour EuroStar trip (underwater!) from Paris to London. Sandemann’s walking tour provides a great overview of the highlights of London, including Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, and the changing of the guards. Also take advantage of excellent theatre options – I enjoyed Phantom of the Opera! Consider a day trip – I had an amazing time in Stonehenge, where I saw the famous rocks. I visited Salisbury where I saw the Magna Carta and Western Europe’s tallest cathedral. I ended the day trip in Bath, where I enjoyed learning about the Roman baths and tried crème tea at an Alice in Wonderland inspired café.
12670265_10153896003779524_4701100184859267272_n

London in January 2016

Check out my Spanish Adventures Revealed blog posts to learn more specifics about France (Paris, Paris cont’d.Giverny and VersaillesAvignon, Arles, French Riviera, French Riviera cont’d., Dijon, and Lyon). Do you have other favorite weekend trips from Paris? Help out your fellow inspirNational readers and comment below :).

 

Comprehending Reverse Culture Shock

Standard

Those curious to study and work abroad are always threatened by the thought of reverse culture shock, but often wonder if it is real or if it will really happen to them. With one study abroad experience under my belt, I thought that reverse culture shock wouldn’t happen to me after being in Paris. What I realized, though, is that I was in Paris for almost twice as long as I was in Spain, and my graduate school and adult realities now are much different than my previous realities in the comfortable space of undergrad.

how-can-agencies-adjust-their-culture-for-social-media

Source: http://www.lumesse.com

With a week gone by since I have arrived back to the United States, I have noticed reverse culture shock in both subtle and big ways. First of all, I experienced a physiological adjustment, with little to no sleep the night before my flight home, too much food during my flight, and the threat of a cold and cough after traveling near others who were sick. It took me almost five days to catch up on sleep and feel normal again. Fortunately, I am now physically feeling back in the Eastern time zone, but facing other adjustments in the transition process from student in study abroad mode, to student in vacation mode, to soon-to-be intern mode.

Another observation is that all my senses were heightened. I would “jump” with surprise when I heard English in France, and upon returning to the United States, I felt that jumping sensation repeatedly until I realized that English is normal again. The sound of candy wrappers on the airplane seemed to bother me and I have never noticed that before. My sense of smell was much more present, as I noticed how fresh the air was in my hometown of Rochester, Michigan after living in polluted city air in Paris. My sense of taste was heightened as I came to appreciate the diversity of my diet in the United States again, rather than the routine cereal, sandwich, and pasta that I had everyday with my host family in Paris. My eyes were very observant that I am now in a familiar environment again, rather than being surrounded by historical wonders, the constant fear of getting lost, and the constant desire to explore and learn about the world. I also felt a need to hug all of my relatives and friends more than usual, after being distanced from them and only being able to send a Facebook or WhatsApp message.

Building on the need for hugs and human touch again, I have noticed a difference in my relationships with loved ones. After four months of limited communication and light-hearted conversation, focusing mainly on my adventures, reality seemed to smack me in the face that my loved ones are facing challenges and they are not in this little safe bubble that I warmly remember as home. While home is warm and safe, there are the same challenges and changes as anywhere else in the world. After four months in explorer mode, I have now returned to daughter, sister, girlfriend, and friend modes, which bring me much joy but also bring hardship that is easy to forget as an explorer. The hardship has made it more difficult to get along, likely because of the pent-up energy of missing each other combined with the fact that I now live a 12-hour drive away from home for graduate school. My goal is to apply the life lessons about being a better person that I have gained from my study abroad experience, in order to merge my two worlds of exploration and relationships.

On a more positive note, I have realized that I have much to be grateful for in the United States, with a loving family, supportive friends, a safe home, a nice car, a great education, and exciting opportunities to advance in my career. During this study abroad experience more than my first one, I have realized that I am very grateful to be American, and have become more aware of the many benefits that the United States provides for its citizens. Leaving home for a while has provided me with more gratitude when I am home, cherishing special moments with loved ones and doing my best to avoid conflict in our limited time together. With another language and greater understanding of world issues from my international classmates in Paris, I have a wealth of knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained had I not studied and lived in Paris. This worldly wisdom will help me as I enter the world of international business and interact with diverse people from around the world.

Going forward, I am reminding myself everyday to be patient with the transition process. I am sharing photos and stories with family and friends to combine my two worlds of being abroad and being home. I am finding comfort in nature, with seasons and sunsets reminding me that there are some parts of life that are constant and foreseeable. And finally, going abroad and returning home again reteaches me the importance of living with an inspirNational mindset, where I find joy in learning from new cultures, seeking new opportunities, and having an open mind to the world around me.

What I Will Miss About Studying in France

Standard

With a blink of an eye, almost four months have passed and I am now at Charles de Gaulle on my way back home. My winter and early spring in France have been some of the most exciting, challenging, and thought-provoking times of my life, and I could not be more grateful to have studied abroad here.

12990988_10154077935654524_7862561119705560597_n

Every time I go abroad I enjoy reflecting on what I will miss and not miss about the country I have experienced. Below I have captured some of the highlights:

What I will miss about studying in France:

  • Connections to new cultures. By learning French, I am now able to speak the language of 72 million people throughout the world, helping me connect personally with those who speak French. I have found that one of the most rewarding parts of life is connecting with others, and language is the first step in the connection process. My spirits were lifted when I was able to speak French and be understood by others, especially when I started to think in French about a month ago. I am grateful to now be able say more than “bonjour” and “merci” when I travel or work in France, Africa, Canada, the Middle East, and other Francophone regions. As a French student in Paris, it is interesting to think that I actually ended up meeting more foreigners than French people, since the foreigners were in classes with me also learning French. My classmates were from every continent except Antarctica, and often times our only language in common was the one we were learning. Not only did we learn French together, we discussed the differences between our countries and our cultures, related to all facets of life (food, family, history, law, politics, etc.). I was able to connect with so many unique people and develop a better understanding not only of the Francophone world, but of the world of all of my classmates. In many ways I felt like I was in the United  Nations. I truly think that if we all have the opportunity to learn a language or take any class with peers who are different from us, we will develop a better understanding and stronger appreciation for diversity.
  • Freedom to explore. A student by morning, I had the afternoons free to “go wherever the wind blows” as I like to say. Each week I visited a variety of tourist sites, balancing being a tourist with the fact that I needed to rest, stay in touch with loved ones, plan travel, complete administration work for my university, and prepare for my summer internship. It was so refreshing to have some time all to myself with no boundaries except the ones I created. I took advantage of my free time and learned about centuries of history with disciplines spanning from art, to food, to history, to cuisine, to sports, and more. I think it is important for all of us to take a break from our normal regimented routines in order to expand our minds and allow creativity to come to us.
  • Attention to detail. Each French person has/her own specialty and he/she does it well. The boucherie offers excellent meats, the fromagerie offers world-renown cheeses, the vignoble offers wines that make your taste buds smile, and the boulangerie offers breads and pastries better than you would ever imagine. The architect builds some of the most intriguing buildings in the world and the fashion designer creates styles never seen before that change the world of fashion. I will really miss eating gourmet cheese and drinking gourmet wine as part of my regular routine. The  exquisite attention to detail is unlike any other country I have visited before, and inspires me to have my own specialty.
  • Work-life balance. I have observed that the French prioritize life outside of work just as much as work. The strict labor laws in France dictating a maximum of 35 working hours per week encourages the French to spend time with their families and friends, develop new hobbies, and focus on their health and fitness. While our careers are one of the most rewarding parts of our lives, we have to remember that our lives outside of work can also be enriching. This lesson strongly resonated with me when I first studied abroad in Spain and changed my mindset about how I want to organize my life. My experience only helps that lesson grow stronger as I advance in my career and grow older.
  • Ease of travel. With the small size of countries and access to public transportation, you can be in four different countries with four completely different languages in one day. I took advantage of this while in Paris and traveled to Bordeaux, Normandy, Brittany, Strasbourg, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal during the weeekends.

What I will not miss about studying in France:

  • Poor customer service. This was by far my strongest pet peeve, as I often felt mistreated in restaurants and stores. I realize that expectations for customer service vary by country, especially from the United States where tips encourage excellent service. I wish that there was an international code for customer service, ensuring that whether a person is given a tip or not, he/she will treat customers with respect and a friendly attitude.
  • Overgeneralizing about Americans. Almost every day I heard negative comments about Americans. At first, I accepted the comments as many of them were partially true. After a while, though, it became irritating because not all Americans are the same and we have so many positive qualities about us. The United States is fortunate to have one of the best democracies in the world, equal opportunity for all citizens, innovative businesses, one of the best healthcare systems, and the best university education system. I often wondered, if the people who criticized Americans hate us so much, why are they using an iPhone, listening to Justin Bieber, watching American reality TV, following American politics, wearing Nike shoes, and speaking English? I often felt that people made negative comments to follow the bandwagon of what they have heard in the media. With the current United States political election, I recognize that we are on everyone’s radar throughout the world with the controversies discussed on TV. Rather than fighting back, though, I have chosen to demonstrate the positive qualities of Americans by being an ambassador of sorts. This is food for thought for us as you meet others and represent your citizenship!
  • Overcrowded public transportation. The metro and bus system in Paris are fantastic in principle, but they are often so crowded that it is difficult to breath and get on/off the metro/bus. My commute time to class and tourist sites on the metro was not pleasant, and naturally made me have more of a negative attitude. I learned that the metro system has not been updated recently. With a growing population, it will be necessary to add more public transportation options for Parisians and tourists to ensure the safety and health of the population.
  • Public health issues. While smoking in public has decreased immensely in recent years, I was still amazed by how many youth smoke and throw cigarette butts on the streets in Paris. My exposure to second hand smoke was probably equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, which is dangerous! Besides smoking, hygiene was different than I’m used to even after traveling the world, especially oral hygiene. I have learned that oral hygiene is prioritized more in the United States than in other parts of the world, but I hope it becomes more of an international standard. I have learned from my dad (retired dentist) that oral health is significant to overall health.  Overall hygiene, including oral and body odor, will also help make the crowded public transportation more manageable and pleasant for everyone.

12993431_10154077952099524_8538327481713913207_n

 

Combining all of my thoughts, I am so grateful for the personal and professional growth I gained from my experience studying in Paris. As always, the people were what made my experience so memorable, and I am happy that social media will enable us to stay connected. I look forward to continue growing and learning about the world as I travel and work abroad throughout my life.

inspirNational Mindset with French Influence

Standard

Why is it that every time I study abroad or a travel, I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulder? Literally and figuratively. I tend to always lose weight despite indulging in the local cuisine. I tend to fell less stressed and more free spirited.

Is it an escape from reality? No, I am still studying, working, paying bills, socializing, and working on my health and fitness.

Is it a lifestyle that is incompatible with my lifestyle at home? No, having traveled to 27 other countries, there are many similarities and transferable lessons I can learn from other countries and bring back home.

Is it the fact that I can speak new languages with new people to learn new perspectives? Yes and more importantly, it is a shift in a perspective. A new mindset. An inspirNational mindset as I have described over the past few years. My inspirNational way of thinking began during my study abroad in Spain. It became a true test when I was in Cleveland, not studying abroad, and had to choose every day whether I wanted to live like a traveler. I applied the mindset to my daily life, seeking opportunities to learn about the world by visiting museums, attending concerts, exploring the city, meeting people from around the world, and teaching English to foreigners to enable them to experience America as I have experienced other countries throughout the world.

As I have always said, having an inspirNational mindset means that you seek new opportunities, try new things, meet new people, think global and act local. It enables you to become more worldly, less stressed, and more open-minded to new opportunities.

Now having lived in France for 3 months, I would like to broaden the mindset and provide more food for thought on the topic. Here are some of my most significant life lessons that I plan to live by upon returning home:

Live simply: Life does not need to be complicated. Eliminate all waste in your life that does not serve you, such as unnecessary stress, negativity, overcommitting, overeating, and dust in your home. Prioritize what matters most to you and focus, rather than trying to do everything or please everyone. With easy access to photos and news from our peers, it is easy to feel “fear of missing out,” but remember that your life is your life. Only you can determine the difference between prioritizing what you want, eliminating excess, and missing out.

LiveSimply11x14-750

Organize your life: Organize your room, your kitchen, and your plans. Don’t forget to give yourself free time to allow for spontaneity. Related to eliminating clutter, organizing yourself will allow you to find more space for all things creative, for all things that will expand your mind and welcome new ideas and opportunities into your life.

Live in the present: Enjoy each moment and each part of your day. Try to avoid multitasking, especially when you are with loved ones. When I visited my host mom in Salamanca, I noticed that she has little notes throughout her home to remind herself to enjoy each moment, from brushing her teeth to showering to listening to music. By feeling the water and imagining cleansing, her spirit feels cleansed as well.  By listening to music, her mind is at peace and her ears are enjoying the sounds.

Live in faith, not in fear. This study abroad experience has challenged me with threats of terrorism, and fear of not knowing the local language. I only had 6 months of  French preparation before the language immersion, rather than nearly 10 years of Spanish language preparation before my Spanish study abroad. Living in fear brings negativity into your life, and takes energy from what keeps you moving forward. Being cautious is different than being fearful. Watch your surroundings, take care of yourself, take risks within boundaries, but don’t let your nerves overcome you. Have faith, have a vision, work hard, and anything is possible!

I hope these French-influenced insights inspire you to continue to live with an inspirNational mindset!