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Discover what matters while studying abroad

Posted by on June 28, 2016

claudia_leffelman_costa rica

Senior marketing major Claudia Leffelman overlooks downtown Heredia, Costa Rica, from the tower of El Fortin while sightseeing during her semester abroad.

Senior marketing major Claudia Leffelman always knew that she wanted to study abroad while pursuing her undergraduate degree. Coming to AU, Leffelman was not sure to what extent she would be able to live her dream of studying abroad for a semester.

Luckily, when she met with director of international programs Terri Schroth, she learned about the numerous study abroad options available at AU, including the option of planning a trip any time of the year, and she knew she had to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.

“Dr. Schroth was just incredible. She answered my million questions and gave me the reassurance I needed to go to Costa Rica,” said Leffelman. “The rest of the AU staff was great, too. The financial aid department worked very hard to help me get the funds I needed in order to make this process happen.”

Due to the support and assistance of AU staff, Leffelman was able to study abroad in Costa Rica during spring 2016. While abroad, she worked to increase her ability in speaking conversational Spanish, and in the process of doing so, she discovered what career path she wants to pursue.

“Within this trip, I finally realized what I want to do in the future for a career, and I will be applying soon to take my test for the foreign affairs division of the U.S. government in October,” she said. “It is such a relief knowing I found something that I would love doing for the rest of my life. As a kid, I always told my parents I knew what I wanted to do, just not the name for it — travel a lot, speak other languages and help people who cannot help themselves.”

Leffelman largely credits the immersion of studying abroad for her accomplishments while away, as it required her to step out of her comfort zone and learn to see things from a new perspective.

“Studying abroad is a life-changing experience that everyone should have. It makes you see everything in a new way,” she said. “Being around friends and family is great. However, I admit that I didn’t learn half as much as I could while they visited me as I did when they weren’t there. Being surrounded by your comfort zone doesn’t really allow you to be out of your box. So all in all, I recommend going for a trip abroad, and taking the leap, but doing it alone. Trust me, you will not regret it.”