Amanda Sharon studied abroad with ISA in Seville, Spain in Spring 2014. Amanda was an ISA Global Ambassador before graduating from Saint Anselm College. Amanda was so moved by her semester abroad that she decided to move back to Spain to teach English! She has continued traveling and has visited over 22 countries. We reached out to Amanda to learn more!
1. What did you learn from your semester abroad and what were your main takeaways?
Studying abroad taught me that living abroad is not as scary as people think it may be. Everyone laughs and celebrates joy the same way! Once I got over this fear of living far from my family and friends, I was able to create a family of my own in Spain through my study abroad program and with my host mom. After graduation, I was eager to continue my adventures abroad, which is why I decided to teach English for a year in Spain. I loved it so much that one year of teaching turned into two!
Prior to studying abroad, I had always imagined myself working in politics or working for the UN. Once I returned from my semester in Seville, I worked as a campaign manager for a State Representative. This experience taught me what I want and don’t want out of a career, and helped me realize that I no longer wished to pursue a career in politics.
Once I graduated, I felt a pull to travel. I wanted to explore more of the world and meet new people, like I had during my semester abroad. I think that traveling opens up the world and breaks down biases in ways that politics do not. We learn more about the world when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Travel and immersive education can truly change someone’s entire perspective on the way they understand the world!
2. What’s your job like at Go Ahead Tours? What have you learned from this experience?
For the first two years at Go Ahead Tours, I worked as a Tour Consultant in helping adult travelers book group tours to all over the world. We have over 170 different itineraries, so the job was to advise them on which trip would be the best fit for their needs. Essentially, I spent the better half of two years talking about travel and encouraging others to get outside their comfort zones!
During this last year at my company, I recently switched over to a Sales Operations Manager position, where I work more closely on the back end of things. There are a lot of moving parts to a trip, so I help with flights and late reservations, ensuring that everyone can have the travel experience of their dreams. Throughout my three years with Go Ahead Tours, I have had the ability to travel as well. Every employee gets to go on one of tours so that we can meet our customers face-to-face and experience the product first hand. My first year I traveled to Barcelona, Southern France (Marseille, Nice, Cannes) and the Italian Riviera (Cinque Terre & Florence). During my second year I was able to visit some of Scotland and England, such as Edinburgh, York, Bath and London. This year I plan to travel to Colombia and Eastern Europe (Prague, Krakow & Budapest). It’s such a unique company to work for since all of my colleagues share the same passion for travel as I do!
3. Do you have a favorite travel memory?
That has to be one of the hardest questions for me because I have been lucky enough to travel to 22 countries. To name a few, these were the travel moments where I was truly emotional and awestruck. I’m talking the kind of moments that give you chills!
- Camping in the Sahara desert and seeing a million stars cover the night sky
- Wearing a traditional Flamenca dress to Feria in Sevilla & dancing the Sevilliana all night
- Seeing Macchu Picchu at sunrise
- Bringing my Mom to Paris so she could see the Eiffel Tower for the first time
4. When did you start blogging and how did you get started?
I started travel blogging when I first studied abroad with ISA! I wasn’t super active on Facebook or social media at the time, so it was a great way to keep my family and friends up to date on what I was doing and where I was traveling. I have always loved writing so it was fun to document my travel experiences and things I learned along the way! When my boyfriend and I decided to move to Spain after graduation, we started a travel blog together. I do most of the writing and photography and he puts together the videos. Again, it was originally meant to be a way to keep everyone in the loop. We have continued our blog since returning home and have more than 100 blog posts! It’s amazing when someone asks me, “You’ve been to Paris – what should I do there?” and I can simply send them my Paris City Guide with all of my top recommendations and links to help them plan their own adventure!
5. What tips do you have for anyone looking to travel more?
For anyone looking to travel more, there are countless ways to do so! If you’re in high school or college, check with your school about opportunities to go abroad. Whether it’s a Spring Break volunteer trip, a semester abroad, a gap year or a week long college class, there are so many opportunities nowadays. If you have graduated from college and are considering a life filled with more adventure, I highly recommend teaching English abroad! It’s such a fun opportunity to immerse yourself in a new community and live abroad for an extended period of time. If you’re not comfortable with being abroad for an extended period of time, I would recommend planning your own adventures independently or through a group travel company. I’ve had a lot of luck using travel credit cards and accumulating miles to help fund my adventures now that I am back in the States!
Check out Amanda’s blog: livelavida.com