travel.jpgSo you spent a few weeks backpacking through Europe. Now you think you’re an international expert?

Not quite, says my new intern Diana Gialo, a senior at the University of Delaware.

Gialo is applying for an international internship and she’s got some pretty strong feelings regarding what it means to live abroad.

She shares her thoughts here, and also includes a video she made to help her land the internship. I suspect the video helped set her apart because she was chosen as one of the top 20 now in the running out of hundreds of applicants. The video is funny and creative and may give some of you college grads and job seekers of any age inspiration to try something new for your job search.

Say hello to Diana:

By Diana Gialo

Traveling abroad is a great idea when you’re young. But many college students and graduates think a European vacation is the same as living abroad. At my school, the University of Delaware, 40 percent of the students participate in study abroad programs, but of those 90 percent do short-term stints during summer, winter or spring breaks, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

If you’re only dabbling in the foreign experience you have to ask yourself, why do you want to travel? Week long parties around the world, hopping from 4-star hotels to lavish restaurants? A true commitment to study abroad is completely immersing yourself in a culture unlike your own. Understanding the people and place you are visiting, and experiencing some sort of inner-growth as a young person.

But sometimes students have limited options.

The AAC&U goes on to say, “the University of Delaware focuses on winter term with its study abroad offerings…and is offering about seventy study abroad options for winter term 2010.” With over seventy short-term programs UD clearly encourages this type of shorter program. When choosing my study abroad, there was such a lack of semester (spring/fall) programs that I had to study through another university.

Last spring I spent four months in Florence, Italy. The program cost me less than a semester at UD. I would have paid approximately half of that tuition for a one month program to Siena, Italy through UD.

So the question still remains, what constitutes a true study abroad experience?

The experience I had in Florence forced me to

* get involved with the local people
* buy my own groceries
* visit laundromats
* make my own travel plans and accommodations on free weekends and breaks

I didn’t have tour guides holding my hand, taking me to my next destination—I did it alone. It’s this completely self-sufficient and culturally removed environment that facilitates a true study abroad.

After my semester abroad I found my passion for world travel. When I arrived back in the States last May I stumbled upon the STA World Traveler Internship. STA, the Student Travel Association, sends two interns to 6 out of 7 continents, marketing travel to students through blogs, videos and photos.

Ideal job? I thought so.

While I may be ‘jumping through hoops,’ making application videos and undergoing rounds and rounds of interviews and cuts, I had to at least apply for fear of regret.

So in the end, two are chosen—two out of hundreds of very qualified applicants.

Why go through all of this work when the odds are clearly against me? Because study abroad has given me a peek into what it is to be a global citizen, how to step outside of comfort zones for self-betterment, and pushing yourself to do new, even a bit scary, things.

Is traveling the world with a total stranger, making videos that may appear on MTVU and roughing it, out of character for me? Absolutely. But if I can help more students go out and do what I did, travel, it’s 100 percent worth it.

((Diana needs your votes to help her get the STA gig. If you get a chance go here and vote.))

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