How to View Your Abroad Experience Now As a Leader

Don’t be that annoying study abroad person who can’t stop talking about all those amazing experiences you’ve encountered. Instead reflect upon the skills you have gained, and know that it is okay to have mixed emotions when returning home.

Reflect upon your abroad experience, and take charge of your emotions. You are a brave leader so own it!


The Virtual Conference discussed “Making Sense of Your International Experience: Unpack and Reflect on Lessons Learned in Leadership”.

It is normal to feel many different waves of emotions when coming back from abroad. We asked a group of individuals what they felt when coming back from an abroad experience and students shared this:

But do not forget you have learned so much and grown from this experience. When asked to think about everything that was offered and one word associated with leader/leadership, this was the result:



  1. What were your previous expectations of the host country? How did those change while studying in XX country?
    • In Auckland, New Zealand (exchange program) people were as nice as expected.
    • I did not anticipate Auckland to be so urban. So to see more of NZ we rented a car to experience more nature life.
    • I knew Amelia and Keagan who were exchange students from NZ who came to Vermont to study my sophomore year. They gave me advice on packing for the seasons.
      To learn more about Lauren Girard’s abroad experience in Spring ’20 during COVID-19 check this out!
  2. Who was the most influential person in your study abroad experience?  How and why did they make an impact? 
    • In London, England (3rd party program) professor Mr. Yvan, of Graphic Design 1 & 2 was influential during my time abroad. He challenged us and made us feel comfortable when designing.
    • He gave us the freedom to create what we were passionate about and I made a readers experience book which I enjoyed very much.
      Alicia O’Brien, Fall ’19
  3. What is one cultural practice of the host country that was different from your regular US routine?
    • In The Netherlands biking was part of my routine getting to classes, and into Amsterdam. It was a 20-minute bike ride each way.
    • Some streets let bikes have the right of way before cars!
    • It was fascinating and compelling seeing the Dutch live so simply.
      Lily Dooha Fasano, Fall ’19


  1. Describe a challenge (e.g. personally, academically, socially, politically, culturally) you have experienced during your return to the United States and your home institution?
    • In London, England (3rd party program) switching time zones was hard to get used to.
    • Cultural differences – so having to change words based on where I was, for example, trousers means pants and pants means underwear in London. As well as saying flatmates Vs. roommates.
      Alicia O’Brien, Fall ’19
  2. What are some coping strategies you have found to help with the re-entry process?
    • Coming back from London, England (3rd party program) I spent more time with my family, pets, and close friends.
    • Most of my flatmates in London, are from the US so I was able to keep in touch and see them.
      Alicia O’Brien, Fall ’19


  1. Create a list of 1-3 individuals who modeled exemplary leadership on a personal, institutional, local, national, or international level during 2020
    • In Auckland, New Zealand (exchange program) the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did a great job during COVID-19 having clear communication with citizens.
    • Doctor Ashley Bloomfield also kept citizens informed during this pandemic.
    • Stephanie Harris was in charge of the dorms, and she kept organized throughout the pandemic since RA’s had to deliver us food during that time.
      To learn more about Lauren Girard’s abroad experience Spring ’20 during COVID-19 check this out!
  2. What trait(s) did those exemplary leaders demonstrate and/or what action(s) did they take? Do you see these qualities/actions attainable for you? Why or why not?
    • In Auckland, New Zealand (exchange program) they did a great job with Communication, weekly press conference’s addressing COVID-19 and daily updates.
      To learn more about Lauren Girard’s abroad experience Spring 20′ during COVID-19 check this out!


  1. Think about these leadership skills you and your peers mentioned.  Can you tie them to any specific experiences from abroad?
    • In Dublin, Ireland (Champlain Abroad Dublin) learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
    • This was the first time I traveled alone so being able to acknowledge I was confused and embarrassed at times was hard, but I learned to embrace this and grow from these experiences.
    • It is okay not to know everything, and you will learn so much more about yourself that cannot be taught unless you go abroad and have those experiences.
      Hawa Adan, Spring ’20
  2. How can you continue to develop these skills to become an effective leader in your community?
    • After Dublin, Ireland (Champlain Abroad Dublin) I applied my abroad experience to my summer job working with high school students. Telling students to not stress, and normalizing the idea to be uncomfortable.
    • Be open to learn and grow and not be afraid to try new things.
    • Ask yourself in an uncomfortable situation, how will I react? How should I react? Learn how to react respectfully, and expand your knowledge and keep into consideration that it is okay to be uncomfortable.
      Hawa Adan, Spring ’20

Learn more about abroad programs. Check out Champlain’s other campuses in Montreal, CanadaDublin, Ireland3rd party programsinternational internshipsexchange programs, and faculty led courses.

Lily Fasano, ’20 // Marketing

More General Advice
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Montreal Culture Differences
Life Abroad Panels: Finance Issues