When and where did you study away?
I studied in London Spring 2016 and also participated in the Arcosanti spring break program March 2017.
What was your program like?
In London, I lived with other Temple University students but got to interact with other students who were studying abroad. I remember being a bit overwhelmed at first talking to London locals in the beginning, but within a month I was handing out directions to tourists and feelings like it was a second home!
Has studying abroad helped you in your professional life? Your personal life?
Yes and yes! Professionally, my time in London is always brought up in interviews. I currently work as the Senior Graphic Designer at a branding agency in Old City, and the owner of the company who is from Italy told me that it was awesome to see someone so young with so much travel experience under his belt. Not only travel, but taking a full course-load while doing so! Personally, studying abroad has helped me to be more adaptable to situations. Not if but WHEN things go wrong in my day to day life, on a project, or while traveling, I learned to be adaptable and fix the situation with a positive attitude that way it doesn’t negatively impact your experience.
As far as Arcosanti goes, I have found myself a LOT more conscious about the environment and my impact on it. This is going to sound like an ad, or sound like a pitch, but it truly changed my outlook on the space that I take up. 10/10 would recommend.
Are there lessons you’d consider invaluable from your experience?
Leave your comfort zone. Whatever that means to you. Leaving your comfort zone is an individual experience. For some students, leaving their comfort zone might mean getting on an airplane for the first time. For others, it could be immersing yourself in a culture that doesn’t even speak your language. Leave your comfort zone.
How has your experience guided your career path?
I’ve found that when I look for jobs I look for something that gives me freedom. Creative freedom, freedom from the normal “9 to 5”, etc. I sort of ‘found my worth’ through studying abroad. I know what I like, what works well for me, and what I really don’t like. If there’s an experience that was negative I tend not to go back
Where are you now? What do you do?
I’m currently the Senior Graphic Designer at a branding agency in Old City called Iperdesign. After hours and on the weekend I’m a part time freelance designer at another agency where I get to work remotely. I live in South Philly and am working so much so that I get to leave South Philly when I see decently prices flights to Tokyo.
How do you feel studying away helped you get there (if at all)?
Studying away definitely helped me become a more professional and outgoing person which has 100% helped me in my career! If I never had those experiences, I probably wouldn’t have landed my first job after graduating and I’m very grateful to have found something in my field once I graduated.
Advice to current students studying away and/or prospective students considering doing so?
Keep a journal, take a ton of pictures, and be a tourist. You’re going to want to look back at your experience for what it REALLY was, so journal about the good times but especially about the bad times! It’s important to not only make your time abroad a highlight reel of all the cool gelato you ate or the cities you took €25 flights to — take note of the experiences that shaped your time and the people who made it great. Because inevitably, it’s going to be great.
You can follow Tanner at @tannerdefebo on Instagram.