We heard Amanda pursued a master’s degree in England not long after graduating from Arizona State University. She said if she hadn’t studied abroad during her undergrad, she doesn’t know if she would have had the confidence to apply for her master’s program and leave her comfort zone once more. We reached out to hear more about Amanda’s first time out of the country and hear more about her time after her ISA program in Rome, Italy back in 2010. Check out what she had to say below!
What inspired you to study abroad and why did you choose Rome?
When I started at Arizona State University, I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point during my college years. A few of my cousins studied abroad when they were in college (Australia and Denmark), and the stories they came back with were incredible. I had also never been out of the country before and felt this was the perfect opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and experience something completely new. Additionally, another cousin of mine was doing a year-long study aboard program in England, so I knew at the least that I had family ties nearby(ish) if needed.
I had originally thought I would go to a country where English was the primary language, but after looking at some options, ISA’s American University of Rome program was one I couldn’t pass up. Apart from it being affordable compared to my already out-of-state tuition, there were so many activities and trips build into the semester. The support team in Rome (Hi Mattea and Vera!) were incredible and I always felt they were there for me day or night. I am so happy I didn’t pick another country or program because my time in Rome, Italy is irreplaceable.
They say the food in Italy is like nothing else. Tell us one of your favorite meals you ate while you were there!
I don’t know if there’s one memorable meal, but let’s talk about the gelato! There were gelaterias everywhere, each selling a wide variety of flavors that it would have been irresponsible of me to not try as many as possible. I remember one day I was walking around Rome with a friend, and we stopped for gelato near the Pantheon. We then sat outside to eat our gelato and people watch, which was the Roman way. I remember sitting there thinking how amazingly lucky I was to be in the presence of a building that had been standing there for over a thousand years and that I needed to embrace every day in Italy like it was my last. Every time I eat gelato now I think of my time in Rome and how amazing it was.
How did your study abroad experience impact your future travels?
My study abroad experience to Italy not only impacted my future travels but also my future education and career path. After graduating in 2011 from ASU, I was hired as a Jr. Media Planner for a creative ad agency in Phoenix, AZ. It was a dream job, and I loved every minute of it. During my time at the agency, I gained an interest in digital marketing and started looking up master’s programs. At that time, there were only a few master’s programs for digital marketing in the US, but I was primarily looking at schools abroad because I knew I needed to get back over to Europe and continue exploring.
I found an established Master’s in Digital Marketing program at the University of Southampton in Southampton, England, applied for it, and was accepted. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as there were some unforeseen changes at my job, so I knew it was meant to be. I spent September 2013 – September 2014 in Southampton working on my degree which included 12 classes over 2 semesters and a 10,000-word dissertation. I was fortunate to return to England in June of 2015 to walk on stage and receive my MSc Digital Marketing with Distinction (highest honors) diploma, reconnect with friends, and show my parents the city that had such an impact on me.
In addition to my studies, I was able to do quite a bit of traveling around England, the United Kingdom, and across Europe. One of my favorite trips was a 10-day solo trip to Berlin and Munich, Germany. Though I’d moved to Europe on my own and without knowing anyone, I knew I was fully supported by my programs and schools if I needed them. My Germany trip was the first time I was truly on my own, in another country, where English wasn’t the primary language. I learned so much about myself on that trip and what I was capable of and wouldn’t give that trip and experience up for anything.
Upon returning to the US in September 2014, I took some time to see family and enjoy the holidays. After ringing in the new year, I started looking for a new job that would allow me to put my digital marketing education and experience to work. I reconnected with a high school friend who referred me as an applicant to her company, Perficient. I was a bit nervous about the interview, but after speaking with the Digital Marketing Manager, and learning he was from South Africa and had roots in the United Kingdom, I was put at ease as we talked about my time abroad and past work experience. I was fortunate to be offered a position in the department I found most interesting and 6.5 years later, I’m still there.
Tell us what you do now! What does your day-to-day look like?
I am a Senior Conversion Strategist for Perficient, an information technology consulting firm, with offices on 4 different continents (North America, Europe, Asia, and South America). I help clients understand who their customers are and why they’re visiting their websites through data-driven research and hypotheses-based testing. My clients range from health care organizations, ecommerce companies, financial institutions, non-profits, and more, and each day is different. One day I could be interviewing a client’s customers and the next I could be working with a website developer to launch an optimization test. It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, so no day is like the last.
What would you tell students who are on the fence about studying abroad?
Go. If you can make it work financially and educationally, definitely go. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made for my education, career, and personal growth. You learn so much more than just what you’re studying in the classroom without even knowing it. Don’t get me wrong, go to class, because some of my favorite college courses were those taught in Rome, but also enjoy your time abroad. Being open to new experiences, cultures, and challenges can be scary, but also extremely rewarding at the same time. Take the risk and don’t look back.
Inspired by Amanda’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a new culture abroad? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!