When Sarah Gardner graduated in May, she walked across the stage with great memories from her experience at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and her study abroad experience in Austria. Gardner was recently named an Ambassador of the Year for the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP).
“I decided to study abroad sometime during my freshman year. I had always been curious about studying abroad and as I got into college I got to know some upperclassmen who had traveled to many places all over the world. Their stories completely mesmerized me and I decided that I would take some time to study abroad,” Gardner said.
Gardner applied with ISEP, and studied abroad at Johannes Kepler Universität in Linz, Austria. Gardner took business classes and visited several other cities including Budapest, Hungary, Paris, France, Madrid, Spain, and Marrakech, Morocco.
“My experience there was absolutely unbeatable. In my short time there I grew so much as a scholar and a person. My semester abroad taught me how to step outside of my comfort zone. I learned how to get around in cities where everything was quite literally foreign to me. I gained experience working with multicultural groups, both in social and academic and professional settings,” she said.
After returning to UTC, Gardner continued to work with ISEP. She also took on a new role at UTC to become more involved with international students.
“I applied to be an ISEP Ambassador so that I could continue advocating for study abroad programs on campus. In addition to being an ambassador, I took the role of Vice President in UTC’s International Student Organization. This allowed me to stay involved with international students as a whole rather than just with students who were interested in studying abroad,” she said.
Gardner wants all students to have this experience.
“My advice is to be proactive,” she said, “Take ownership of what you want to do and start taking action to make it happen. Sure, the study abroad process can be a little daunting but it is well worth your time.”