How Travel Became Life For A NJ Native And ETA Staffer
After her graduation from Boston University, Emily Sweeney took the route many wish they had, but only few decide to live. Bit early by the infamous travel bug, she and friends backpacked around Europe for a few months. She then settled in Frankfurt, Germany where she was an Au Pair for a great family. Once back in the U.S., Emily told us that her “real job” in media planning was, “…fun and kind of glamorous, but was just not my jam.” This doesn’t come as a surprise after months free flowing through Europe and a six-month study abroad program in South Africa the year prior.
She did some real soul searching and continued her journey as an Admissions Officer then Regional Director of University relations for the provider of her own study abroad program. Although she loved her five years there, she wasn’t done taking to the sky just yet. She took a role in Colombia teaching English. The position was slated for one year, but two years later she returned to the U.S. in love with Colombia, its language, and one of its natives (her soon to be husband).
After her first role back as a university study abroad advisor, she landed her current role at Educational Travel Adventures as the International Programs Manager – a perfect combination of sharing the impact of international travel with students around the country and working with folks abroad to build customized itineraries and immersion experiences.
See our conversation with Emily below, and get some advice from an international travel lifer.
What inspired you to start traveling?
“My first trip abroad was to Italy with my parents and two friends when I was 16-years-old. I was immediately bit by the travel bug and knew that I would study abroad in college and continue to explore this big beautiful world we live in.”
What is the benefit of international travel?
“I could talk about this all day, but I think the biggest impact it has on your life is that it forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and realize that there is more to life than the little bubbles we all live in throughout our day-to-day lives. Travel teaches you flexibility, resilience, understanding, and compassion.”
What advice would you give teachers/professors interested in planning a trip abroad for their students?
“My best pieces of advice would be to plan early, allow for some downtime during the program for students to explore a bit on their own, and to get your students excited about traveling in general. Excitement and curiosity are contagious so I think embodying both will help you inspire students to want to join your program and become life long travelers.”
What are you two favorite destinations?
“Jardin, Colombia and Iceland”
What is the one item you will never travel abroad without?
ChapStick and a camera!