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Benefits of Learning on Location

Written by: Courtney Smith

Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to one day study abroad. I grew up hearing the stories of my mother’s experience abroad in Spain during her junior year of college. She raved about how much she learned, the different cultures she experienced, and all of the amazing places she visited. I became entranced in these stories and grew more and more fascinated with all things international. When I got to college there was no question in my mind that I too was going to explore the world.

I first studied abroad with KIIS back in the summer of 2013 on the Slavic Europe program and was fortunate enough to return to the same program in the summer of 2015 for an internship as the assistant to the director. It is hard to believe that my adventures abroad with KIIS were seven and five years ago respectively. I still have vivid memories of the best summers of my life!

On the 2013 program I spent three weeks studying WWII and Holocaust history in L’viv, Ukraine and Warsaw and Krakow, Poland. In these three weeks I was able to explore all three cities, hike in the Carpathian Mountains, participate in an international student conference, tour Auschwitz concentration camp, visit the famous Schindler’s Factory, make traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs, and of course eat my weight in Polish pierogis. It was this experience that made me realize the benefits of learning on location and studying abroad. This realization was so strong for me that upon my return to Kentucky my career aspirations shifted and I decided to pursue a career in the international education field. I knew that I wanted a job that helped make sure that all students have the ability to study abroad and experience the world just as I was able to through KIIS.

As the director of global and intercultural engagement at Transylvania University I get to do just that. I work every day to ensure that students have a safe, exciting, and academically stimulating experience abroad. I am thrilled that I get to work with KIIS even years out from my own experience abroad. I love sending my students on KIIS programs because I know firsthand how valuable they are. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my time abroad on the Slavic Europe program and it is amazing to see my students have the same life changing experience that I once had.


Courtney Smith

Slavic Europe
Translvania University

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