By learning about different cultures, developing global perspectives through new adventures, and immersing oneself in a unique environment, studying abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience.
International Education Week celebrates these experiences and promotes the benefits of international education. Through sharing our stories and highlighting our journeys abroad, we can gain a greater understanding of different cultures and increased appreciation for global perspectives.
Flywire is committed to building a workplace composed of intersecting cultures, identities, and backgrounds, converging to realize our shared vision and uphold our corporate values. As a global company, we boast a highly diverse team based across the world. We constantly draw on the unique experiences and ideas of all our members to deliver creative solutions that can cater to our clients in various countries.
From learning new languages to enjoying age-old family recipes, FlyMates had a lot to share about their experiences studying abroad and what made their experiences so special and memorable. Here is what they had to say:
What were the highlights of your study abroad experience?
Becoming fluent in Spanish, meeting international students from all countries, and digging into Argentina's culture. - Martin Bonnefond, Sales Manager, Education, Spain (Study Abroad Location: Argentina)
Living with a host family and going to their home in the mountains on holiday for homemade bolognese. Taking courses at Syracuse University's long standing Villa Rossa right down the street. Purchasing paintings from my host father. They still hang in my parents house today! - Victoria Napoli, Cross Border Growth and Strategy, Healthcare, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Italy)
Seeing things in person (still WOWing over the Duomo in Milan) and the friends I've made. I’m still friends with lots of my study abroad peers! - Kayley Allen, Experience Manager, U.S.(Study Abroad Location: Greece)
The entire experience was incredible! From making friends with other students onboard from all over the world, seeing so many new cultures, and having the world be our classroom. - Caroline Savon, Sales Engineer, Healthcare, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: A Semester at Sea)
I had the opportunity to live and study with students from different backgrounds, fully immersing myself in the Scottish (and English) culture while making new friends that I'm still in touch with today. I was also able to reconnect with my extended family that lives in Scotland. - Ben Rubenstein, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Scotland)
I had hosted a German exchange student years prior and was able to spend time in his high school and really see the differences between the German education system and ours in the US. I was so impressed with how early German students started learning other languages. - Peter Schermerhorn, RVP Healthcare Sales, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Germany)
Making new friends and learning, all while immersing myself into the local culture and hospitality of my host family. The overall experience really opened my eyes to new perspectives and resulted in my interest and eventual career in global marketing. - Tracy Courtemanche, Sr. Director, Global Marketing, Education, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Belgium)
Did you face any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?
Learning a new language and culture can be disorienting at first. As time goes on you realize that the ability to be flexible and embracing the discomfort is just part of growth. - Brooks Bontrager, Director of Global Banking and North America Payments, U.S. (Study Abroad Locations: Hong Kong and San Jose, Costa Rica)
Dealing with paperwork in a foreign country and language. I was assisted by local peers and the international office of the school. - Daniel Solanilla Martin, Head of RM, Europe (Study Abroad Location: Netherlands)
I experienced extreme culture shock at first but after a week I was ok. I immersed myself in the culture and got involved on campus which made my experience so much better. - LaCrystal Robinson, Demand Generation Marketing Manager, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: India)
I had to truly learn to be a better traveler, as I often had to plan my travels outside of Germany with small groups. I really developed a passion and liking for exploring and learning that continues to this day. Having gotten very lost and off track on a few trips helped me get much more diligent at planning in general. - Peter Schermerhorn, RVP Healthcare Sales, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Germany)
My main challenge was actually meeting people, as classes had just resumed after COVID, but most students were studying remotely. I finally joined the university music band and made new friends.-Andrés Hidalgo López, Payment Experience Associate, Valencia (Study Abroad Location: Sweden)
I did not know any Mandarin when I moved. The language barrier, cultural barrier, and limitations surrounding work opportunities with my student visa were extremely difficult. I focused on learning the language and committed to a future where I would be developing a life and career in China after completing my degree. - Spencer Fehrenbacher, Sales Manager, Vancouver (Study Abroad Location: China)
Do you have any study abroad advice you’d like to share?
If you have the chance, do it! It’s the best experience ever, you meet great people, different cultures and is the best thing to spend on. - Patricio Hughes, Sales Manager EDU LATAM, Mexico (Study Abroad Locations: England, Canada, and France)
Be as open as possible to new experiences. I tried to look at studying abroad as an opportunity to try different things that I might not do while at school in the U.S. - things like trying new food, studying different topics, or just getting out on impromptu adventures with new friends. - Ben Rubenstein, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Scotland)
Go into the experience with an open mind. Don't expect things to be like they are back at home. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, embrace it and make the best of it. - LaCrystal Robinson, Demand Generation Marketing Manager, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: India)
My advice would be to study abroad no matter what. The experience comes once in a lifetime. Discover the city you live in, have dinner alone, join many meetups to make local and international friends, do an internship, teach English and spend weekends traveling. - Sophia Jumatate, Senior CM&T Associate, U.S. (Study Abroad Locations: Bilbao, Barcelona, and Madrid)
While it may seem scary to visit a place and culture you do not know, take the risk. You will learn so much and often be welcomed to a degree you did not even fathom was possible. People inherently want to share what they enjoy about their country, friends and culture - it is a gift to experience that. - Peter Schermerhorn, RVP Healthcare Sales, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Germany)
Take a chance and welcome the opportunity to open yourself up to new cultures and perspectives; it just might impact the rest of your life. - Tracy Courtemanche, Sr. Director, Global Marketing, Education, U.S. (Study Abroad Location: Belgium)
Anything else you would like to include?
I got to see my host brother from my first study abroad experience 20 years later at my wedding. We still remain good friends! - Patricio Hughes, Sales Manager EDU LATAM, Mexico (Study Abroad Locations: England, Canada, and France)
I strongly recommend every single student out there to try an international experience. Once you have lived the life of a student abroad you will never be the same! - Daniel Solanilla Martin, Head of RM, Europe (Study Abroad Location: Netherlands)
My study abroad experience was one that I am so grateful for, it has made me who I am today. - Sophia Jumatate, Senior CM&T Associate, U.S. (Study Abroad Locations: Bilbao, Barcelona, and Madrid)