want to increase your hireability while having a BLAST? Go Abroad, NOW

Number 1: If you ever, ever, ever have the chance to travel or study abroad, DO IT. I promise you will not be disappointed. Yes, it takes time, yes it takes money, and yes it takes effort. 

DOESN'T MATTER. It is one-hundred percent worth it if you go in with a positive attitude and make the most of your experience and the opportunities that come with it.  Why you should consider studying abroad

Number 2: By no means limit yourself to the actual "study abroad" portion of the trip. Especially if the program, as in my case, is short. Once you spend the money to get abroad, STAY THERE. For over a month I have been interning abroad and it has been one of the most engaging, interesting, and rewarding experiences of my life (cliche but TRUE). 

I have been abroad since May 10, 2013 and I go home on Monday, July 1. Here is a snapshot lift of some of the things I have done:

  • Swam in the Adriatic Sea, destroying my iphone in the process (AMAZING beaches at Dubrovnik)
  • Walked the old city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia (also known as KING's LANDING)
  • Listened to the former Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik and chief Croat negotiator during the Siege of Dubrovnik by the Serbs in the 1990's war
  • Sampled fresh oysters at oyster farms and fisheries of the Peljesac Peninsula
  • Visited old salt fields and went Wine Tasting, with our IU professor (I am only 20 ;)

  • Went to a concert at a club, INSIDE a Fortress that was built in 1463
  • Jumped off the Old Starry Most Bridge at Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, into the river below
  • Kidding, but saw someone jump
  • Bought a HUGE hamburger for $2, that would easily be $10 in US
  • Visited the UN Development Program and UN Women in Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Visited the World Bank and US Embassy
  • Visted the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (more on this later)
  • Visted Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, site of the 1995 genocide

The above was the study abroad program, SPEA in Croatia, from May 10 to May 26. See this: http://www.indiana.edu/~spea/spea_abroad/SPEA_Summer_Abroad/Croatia/index.shtml

I would highly recommend this program to any and all IU (or IUPUI) students. 

However, IT WAS NOT LONG ENOUGH. If you are going to spend thousands of dollars to go halfway around the world, DO NOT come right back after 2 weeks. DO NOT. GO somewhere else!!!

Sarajevo:

By connecting through the program's professor, I was able to seek and acquire an Internship with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, in its Sarajevo Office. This has allowed me to stay for another month, and do SO MUCH MORE than just the study abroad. The real benefit, other than the international work experience, has been physically LIVING abroad. Meeting locals. Having my own apartment. Getting a feel for the social, cultural, and political environment of an extremely intriguing country and region. 

An very abbreviated list of what I have done, AFTER the study abroad ended, including some of my internship responsibilities and opportunities:

  • Met NDI's Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe
  • Met with Bosnia's former Minister of Education and Science, now a founder of a Civil Society group called 1 Mart (First March).
  • Met with leader of a Youth/Social Media NGO called Why Not?
  • Met with Top leaders and party officials of Bosnian national political parties
  • Visited the Bosnian national Parliament: House of Representatives and House of Peoples
  • Witnessed Protests outside Parliament the same day, almost getting trapped in the building!

  • Went to Banja Luka and Sarajevo to present on National Public Opinion polling results to parties, the UN, and the European Community
  • TRIP TO BELGRADE

I want to stop for a minute to talk about Belgrade, Serbia. GO HERE, stay in the Hedonist Hostel. http://www.hedonisthostelbelgrade.com/  One of the best experiences of my life. It is here I have met people and made friends from Australia, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, France, Italy, Boston/NY/Oklahoma/California/etc, Argentina, Turkey, Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and MORE. (1 guy from Pittsburgh who has been traveling around Europe for 18 months says it is still his favorite hostel)

  • coffee, coffee, coffee....and more coffee, especially in Bosnia
  • cheap food and drinks (chevapi and pljeskavica are my favorite)
  • clubs and pubs on the river
  • Old Ottoman fortresses, Tito's grave, communist New Belgrade, Austrian street in Zemun along the Danube.......

Great history, food and places; the best part has been the PEOPLE. 

Overlooking Belgrade:

So, to wrap up: get out of your comfort zone, save up some money, go study abroad (at least during summer), live/work abroad if possible, MEET PEOPLE (especially locals ;), and have a BLAST learning and doing things you have never done before. Also, facebook and email are REALLY useful to keep in touch with people from around the world (I have tentative plans to visit new friends in Czech Republic, Copenhangen, Holland, and France).

In Sarajevo:

Try to get people to open up and you will be amazed; people from different places and backgrounds view the world entirely different than you and I. FOCUS on the common bonds that BRING us TOGETHER.

JR

About The Author
Jack RennerPolicy Analysis, Class of 2015

I am a Hoosier, but I was raised a Boilermaker (lived across the street from Purdue's campus for 15+ years). Like IU a lot better now though! This fall I will be a Junior in SPEA at IU. Rather than returning to Bloomington, I will be participating in the IU in DC program through SPEA. I will take 2 classes while interning at the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in its Office of European Affairs. SO PUMPED, but will miss Btown!

At IU I have been active in the SPEA Undergraduate Student Association, the Hutton Honors College, the Student Alliance for National Security, the Nu Chapter of Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity, Circle K, and more!

I love history, food, traveling, and meeting people