One of the FIRST Students CIS Abroad Sent Abroad!
Let’s start from the beginning. Meet Michelle Edmands. She means the world to us! Are you ready to find out why? She is one of the first CISabroad study abroad students to make one of the best decisions of her life. She chose in 1999 to study abroad with CISabroad to Australia for her Spring semester. Today we celebrate 15 years of sending brilliant students like Michelle to study abroad all over the world. Here’s what she said in a recent interview.
Why did you choose to study abroad? Why CIS? CIS was on-site at Suffolk University, so it was easily accessible and convenient. As soon as I met with Jeff and got some information, I never thought of looking at other study abroad programs.
Why did you choose Australia? I went on the Semester on the Gold Coast program. I knew I wanted to go to a place where English was the primary language, the weather would be warm and sunny, and to be near the ocean. I went for one semester (autumn here, summer there) and they had a communications programs, which was my major at Suffolk.
How has studying abroad impacted your life? It was an amazing 3 1/2 months that I will never forget. It certainly exposed me to new cultures and being independent so far from home. My family was able to visit for two weeks and we traveled around the country, so we did everything from snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef to visit a comedy club in Melbourne. I still find myself using terms I learned there, such as “roundabout” instead of rotary, and “no worries”. My experience was so positive that I would definitely encourage my children to study abroad when they get older.
What is your most memorable experience? Two things come to mind right away:
*On our first evening there, me and some other girls I met while traveling to Bond, wanted to go out in town. We had not had a chance to exchange our money, and were in the study abroad office trying to get some information on where to go and how to get there. The counselor onsite was so kind and helpful- she gave us some of her own money so we could get the bus into town and have some spending money until we could exchange our American dollars. I remember thinking how generous that was and something you didn’t see a lot of at home.
*While I was on the Gold Coast in 2000, the Olympics were going on in Sydney. We had an Olympic size pool on campus and the teams would practice there (although we weren’t allowed to bother them). Seven of us rented a van and drove to Sydney and managed to get tickets for $25 each to the men’s gold-medal soccer game. We watched as Cameroon defeated Spain after double-overtime and then penalty shots. The game was amazing and the fact that we were sitting in the bleachers was surreal!
What advice do you have for future students? Don’t be afraid to try something new. It is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, try things out of your comfort zone and learn about a whole new place. People really love travelers and want to share their stories and offer advice. Ask locals about things to do or restaurants that are off the beaten path.
Are you still in touch with other alumni? I am still in touch with my friend Kim who also studied at the same university. She is from New Jersey and we met on our stopover in Malaysia. My expectations on our accommodations were low, but the hotel we stayed at was absolutely gorgeous. We were only there for six hours, not even over-night. We were each given a room, and food/drink vouchers. Kim and I started talking and realized we were going to the same school. As we sat in the lobby, drinking a glass of champagne, we watched monkeys climbing up the windows of the hotel. To this day, we share pictures of our children and always remember each other’s birthday.
My entire experience was wonderful, starting with meeting Jeff at CISabroad and him answering all of my (and my parents’) questions. We all felt so comfortable with the travel plan, Bond Uni, and the courses. My parents were determined to have me study abroad after my bother spent a semester in Madrid, and I was against it at first. Now I am so grateful that they persisted, as it was truly awesome. After I returned to Suffolk, Jeff asked if I would work with CISabroad a bit, and I helped with orientations for new students, answering their parent’s questions and sharing my experience. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to not only travel abroad through CISabroad but to encourage others to do the same.