Translating Your Education Abroad Experiences

Author: Alissa Ward

Education abroad can take many forms in terms of programs, length, and countries. When you return from your education abroad program, there will be so much that you want to share, and other aspects that you may not know fully how to translate into a valuable skill, or that you maybe didn’t even realized you gained. Being able to take what you learn above and beyond your education abroad will support you in translating these experiences for current or future employers, grad school applications, or even your friends and family who maybe thought the educational aspect was significantly downplayed. There are often so many opportunities that you experience, that mindful reflection is required to truly draw upon the skills that were attained while abroad to convince others of the value.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (2009), identifies this concept as such: “experience gained on study abroad may have value to employers, but students have to unpack their international academic experience by critically reflecting on it, and reframe their stories in the context of the workplace and in language employers understand” (Translating Study Abroad Experiences for Workplace Competencies). Further, they identify common workplace competencies as:

  • Interacting with people who hold different interests, values, or perspectives
  • Understanding cultural differences in the workplace
  • Adapting to situations of change
  • Gaining new knowledge from experiences
  • Ability to work independently
  • Undertaking tasks that are unfamiliar/risky
  • Applying information in new or broader contexts
  • Identifying new problems/solutions to problems
  • Working effectively with coworkers

Many of these skills can be attained through group projects, interacting with domestic and other international students, and the activities that fill your time while not on campus. Being able to associate specific examples to these workplace competencies is what translating your education abroad experiences is truly about, so that you can identify the hard and soft skills you acquired. For myself, there were many people who did not seem the legitimacy in a Wine Management field school or the level of course content associated with the topic, so being able to translate my experiences was of particular importance to identify true learnings.

If you are wanting to learn how to translate your education abroad experience, join us on Wednesday November 7, 2018 from 12-1 in the Royal Arbutus Room (Building 300, Room 401), as we probe you to reflect and identify your newfound skills.