Traveling Abroad with Supportive Advisors

Jessica Mendoza, staff writer

What drew me to choose a Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) program is their focus on social justice and community engagement. Learning from community members is important and differs from experiences in the classroom.

During my study abroad experience in the spring of 2020, I was able to meet students from different colleges across the U.S. I took classes and shared meals and a room with the people from my program.

Photo of Andrea Dvorak provided by Eventscribe.

It’s important to research the various elements of the program you’re interested in to make sure it fits what you are looking for. The CGEE staff were helpful both here at Augsburg before I left and abroad while I was on my program. My initial meeting with my study abroad advisor and Associate Director of Off-Campus Studies, Andrea Dvorak, helped me feel more reassured about my decision to study abroad. I was curious about scholarships, my financial aid package and courses and she helped answer my questions or connected me with someone who could explain them further.

Photo of Margaret Anderson provided by Study Abroad’s website. 

Some fun facts to know about Dvorak is that she used to teach English in Krakow, Poland, received her BA in History from the University of Minnesota-Morris and an MA in Slavic Literature and Culture from University College London. Another staff member from the CGEE office is Margaret Anderson. She helps students that have decided to attend a CGEE program (Mexico, Central America or Southern Africa) on details like courses, homestays, flights and lots more. Some fun facts about Anderson are that she earned a BA in history from the University of Minnesota and joined Augsburg’s staff in 1991. 

Although the study abroad program staff changes depending on the host country you visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Garrido Gomez who is the study abroad facilitator in the Central American Region. Gomez travels with students throughout the entire semester program helping them navigate a new country and any types of concerns that might come up. We would ask her about restaurants, taking the local Tuc Tuc’s and many other things. Gomez was the first person I met when I stepped off the plane in Guatemala and has a kind and warm personality. Gomez earned a bilingual degree at the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA) and studied business in Stow, Ohio for a few years. She is a proud Guatemalan citizen and has a natural gift at connecting with others.

The general process for learning about studying abroad is to set up a meeting with the study abroad office (generally you will meet with staff but there are also peer advisors). The advisors can help with academic and financial planning, scholarships and other things to consider in choosing a program. 

Students can also start the process by searching for programs on the Global Gateway site (study abroad.augsburg.edu). At this site you can filter information by country, term and more.