We’re always happy to hear from Towson Abroad alumni and Chelsea is no different. As you’ll see Chelsea is now working in the field of international education in nearby D.C. and we are excited to share her story!
My name is Chelsea Herskovitz. I graduated from Towson in 2012 with a BS in Mass Communication with a Marketing Certificate. I’m originally from a small town in Pennsylvania that few people have heard of. During my junior year, I studied abroad in London over the winter mini-mester.
Q: What (or who) got you started on study abroad and how did you choose your program?
I always knew I wanted to study abroad but was skeptical because none of my friends were doing it. While my parents were supportive, they felt more comfortable if I somewhere where they spoke English. England was the obvious choice. I also knew I wanted to go over the mini-mester because I always found myself bored during the long winter breaks and this was a productive way to fill my time while also earning credits towards my degree.
Q: Did your experiences abroad met your expectations? Exceeded them?
My experience abroad, as cheesy as it sounds, was life altering. Prior to studying abroad, while I had some travel experience, I was always intimidated by being so far away, missing experiences here in the US and whatnot. But the adventure was eye opening. I was able to experience freedom and a new culture without the pressures of home. It gave me the opportunity to interact with other students at Towson I had never met and felt I could truly be myself. I was pushed to try things outside of my comfort zone and ended up loving (most of them).
Q: Your study abroad experiences were a large part of your time at TU. How have they affected your career path?
Once I graduated from college, I immediately was offered an internship that eventually turned in to a job offer. However, I hated the job so much and it had me living at home with my parents. I would go to work every day and be bored out of my mind. Eventually, I thanked them for the job offer and was happy to accept if they would allow me to take a month off to travel. With their permission, I booked my trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. On my 3rd day in Cambodia, I wrote to my boss requesting an additional 2 months off. Oddly enough, he gave me his blessing. I eventually ended up quitting the job and spending 6 months in Southeast Asia. While in Thailand, I interviewed and was offered a job a non-profit working with high school students interested in studying abroad. Without the experience with Towson in London, I never would have been motivated to go to SE Asia and eventually work for this company.
Q: Of all the places you’ve been, both study abroad and in your life after TU, do you have a favorite? Where and why?
Choosing a favorite travel destination is like choosing a favorite child. But I certainly have destinations I prefer but for different reasons. Vietnam makes it to the top of the list because of the history. I don’t remember ever learning about the Vietnam War in school, so it was very eye opening. Spain and Peru by far had some of the best and most creative foods I’ve ever eaten. But London always has a special place in my heart since I lived in a flat there and had the opportunity to live like a local.
Q: Many returned study abroad alumni speak about an “ah ha” moment or a particularly powerful memory. What’s yours?
I wouldn’t say there was one specific moment. During one of our free weekends, me and a couple friends booked a trip to Barcelona. I think the entire experience of going from one place where I didn’t know anyone to another, staying in a hostel, trying to use my absolutely terrible Spanish, and trying to maneuver the city was very eye opening to all the things I am capable of.
Q: What would you say to students about studying abroad?
I’m not going to lie, it’s an intimidating experience. To think about being so far away from your friends and family, the finances, the planning, lots of new words and processes you’re not familiar with etc. etc. But you would have to search far and wide to find someone who either regrets their time abroad or wishes they didn’t do it. It is worth all of the preparation and work. In my job, I hear from students all the time about the cost of studying abroad and surely, it can be costly. However, you cannot measure the financial benefits you will receive from an experience abroad. Students gain confidence, intercultural experience, and knowledge some of their peers do not have; all items which potential future employers are looking for.