The University of Iowa

Study abroad returnees connect at the Study Abroad After Party

February 25th, 2020

UI students who have recently returned from a study abroad experience were invited to a Study Abroad After Party on February 13.

 “The event is a celebration of students who are returning from studying abroad. We want to, in some way, recognize them and honor them for their achievement of studying abroad,” said host Kristine Djerf, senior study abroad advisor and program coordinator.

UI students at the Study Abroad After Party

UI students in attendance at the Study Abroad After Party

Students were invited to speak with peers and advisors discussing personal experiences while enjoying food catered by Oasis Falafel. The after party served as a social outlet for students returning to the United States—in some cases, merely weeks ago. Many students reconnected with people from their program, but also had the opportunity to meet students who had studied abroad in different locations.

“I wanted to hear about other people’s study abroad experiences and see if anybody was struggling as much as I am with the transition [back to the U.S.],” said ROTC member and public health major Paige Grissinger as she explained the importance of the after party.

Grissinger studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the fall semester through The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). With an intense academic schedule, studying abroad was the perfect opportunity to explore applied public health practice in an international setting. At the event, Grissinger met students who had studied abroad in neighboring countries who were open to discussing the more challenging aspects of studying abroad. The conversation was unconditionally comforting.

“Studying abroad is not just another checked box—it’s more than that. Studying abroad is, for many students, life changing,” said Djerf.

The importance of hosting this event was to recognize the achievements of students by allowing them to reminisce and tell stories. In some sense, this event was a pat on the back. The event served as a reminder that what these students did was valuable and important and to use the experiences they had abroad in their everyday life.

“No matter where you went, everyone took away such positive experiences from other cultures and understanding the importance of traveling and challenging your scope of the world,” said CIEE study abroad student Danielle Beavers.

Beavers studied abroad in Seville, Spain, with the intentions of heightening her Spanish language acquisition. While doing so, she also gained a handful of new cultural experiences. Beavers reveled in the opportunities she had to travel across Europe, stating that her fondest memories derive from meeting new people and trying new foods. The event served as a platform for Beavers and her peers to reminisce about their weekend adventures and the interconnectivity of studying abroad.

Although each student had a unique study abroad experience, one place they all share, and can call home, is the University of Iowa. Events like these highlight the importance of community, travel, conversation, and culture. While removing oneself from their comfort zone can be difficult, the rewards are monumental. International Programs applauds every student and scholar who does so.