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Meet Allison Potter (she/her/hers)

Program and Location:

Spring, Global Leadership Minor: Prague (Czech Republic), Reutlingen and Munich (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria)


Majors: Communication Media & Spanish

Minors: Global Leadership, Journalism

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Studying abroad has always been a big goal for me. I knew I wanted to do it since I went to Europe for my senior year Spring break. I came into NC State with a lot of credits thanks to AP classes, so I luckily had space in my schedule to do a semester abroad. I have many friends and family members that have spoken so highly of their time abroad, so I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to go. I knew I would walk away with dozens of memories and experiences that I could not get on campus in Raleigh. Picking up the global leadership minor was the perfect choice because I had no other option but to complete the courses abroad, and I could do so without worrying about being behind in my other communication or Spanish classes when I got back.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned so much about myself on this trip. Our coursework had a lot of reflection built in it, so I was constantly analyzing myself and our experiences. We also took a lot of personality and leadership tests to help us better understand how we perform in a leadership setting. I learned that I am a very people-focused leader and good at adapting to new situations. I came back so much more aware of my leadership style and strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teamwork. Going abroad has also changed my perception of my career aspirations, and I hope to be able to live and work abroad one day. If that’s not possible, I would at least like to have some global element to my job where I can connect with people from around the world.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I loved the structure of my program. It was very chaotic having to pack up our stuff every 1-2 weeks, but it made for such a unique experience. We got to live in 4 European cities for at least a week each, and I feel like this helped me experience the culture of the city we were in and not just feel like a tourist. I liked that travel was built into the program, so I didn’t feel as pressured to set off to a new country every weekend. I also got to see some of the cutest small towns because of our field trips, and this would not have been possible if I did a different program that was just in one city.

One of our stops was Innsbruck, a ski town in the middle of the Austrian alps. This was by far my favorite place we visited. After being in hectic cities like Munich and Prague, Innsbruck was such a nice break- It was absolutely beautiful here, and I loved being surrounded by mountains on all sides. I would walk home from class almost every day to appreciate the scenery and fresh air. I even took ski lessons here and got to take a cable car to the “top of Innsbruck,” a mountain with stunning views of the alps and the city. Overall, this was such a relaxing city and helped me appreciate the beauty of Austria more than being in a major metropolitan area!

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

Our classes were very different from a typical NC State class schedule on campus. We had a different professor every week, and often had to be in class for 6-8 hours a day because we were completing 4 classes in 2 months. However, most of our professors made an effort to make the class fun and not have us sitting in class all day. Our professors wanted to give us exposure to different global organizations in Europe, so we had plenty of field trips. We got to tour a glass factory outside of Prague, the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart, and took a day trip to Schliersee to tour a local sports club and learn about the owner’s approach to leadership. All of our classes were focused on leadership, but each incorporated elements from different disciplines like textiles, business, and parks and recreation. Each class was very different than what I am used to in my communication and Spanish classes, but it was a nice change. I also am so thankful I got to experience this program with students from so many different NC State colleges. At first I was intimidated that I was the only CHASS student in the cohort, but it was such a great opportunity to meet people outside of my major, and I never would have crossed paths with them had it not been for this trip!

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

My advice would be to take time for yourself when you need it. As an introvert, I often needed some time alone after being around the same 15 people all day every day. I would do this by spending some time journaling, shopping, running, going to lunch on my own, or finding new cafes to visit and do some homework. This was essential in helping me develop a sense of independence and recharge for a bit. Now this did backfire sometimes when I would take the wrong way on the metro or get slightly lost on a run, but it helped me learn how to problem solve on my own. Although it’s very easy to have FOMO and want to commit to everything that your friends in your program are doing, that’s unrealistic. There are going to be some lazy days when you don’t feel like doing a lot, and that’s okay. I was lucky to have a small group that really looked out for each other- we all respected each other’s need for personal time and space, and didn’t want to force people do something if they weren’t going to be in a good headspace to enjoy it.

Would you do it again?

Yes yes yes! I actually went to Barcelona last summer for an internship because I had so much fun on my first program!

This post was originally published in Study Abroad News.