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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame International releases new podcast, highlights student study abroad stories

This month, Notre Dame International Study Abroad program released a new podcast called BeyoND. Hosted by senior Sofia Perez, the podcast releases new episodes every Friday accessible on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Perez began her journey with the study abroad office when she applied in 2018 for the fall 2019 program in London.

Perez said that she selected her potential programs based on the classes that were offered for her major and for the accessibility and location of the programs. Finding a program that would fit her class schedule and allow her to graduate on time, as a biochemistry major, was challenging, she said.

“I knew I wanted to go to Europe, and preferably a place that didn't have a language barrier,” Perez said. “I also knew I really wanted to travel a lot, not just stay in the country that I was studying abroad in. Both of those programs [London and Dublin] are in countries that are very accessible to other countries.”

Although she was excited, Perez said that she experienced some second thoughts prior to leaving.

“What I was most apprehensive about was being away for so long and not seeing my family,” Perez said.  “But also, just living in the middle of a different city, which is scary because I've never lived by myself in a big city.”

Perez said that in the end, she was so happy she was able to overcome her challenges and experience studying abroad in an area that was out of her comfort zone.

Like many students, Perez said that her time abroad involved making new friends and a lot of traveling.

“I really love traveling, and when you're in Europe, there's Ryanair flights that are literally 60 euros, so it's really cheap,” she said. “London has a Eurostar underground train that you can take, which is also really cheap.”

Perez said she took advantage of the affordable travel options and planned a trip every single weekend.

“It was super fun because you could go with a bunch of different friends that were in different programs,” she said. “And then when we got there, I made so many new friends, so we would all be like, ‘Do you guys want to go to Budapest?’ ‘Oh yeah, absolutely. Let's plan this weekend.’”

While very fun, Perez said traveling every weekend has its challenges. It could get costly at times, Perez explained, but she said she was always cost-conscious, and it helped that transportation and Airbnb’s were affordable.

Perez said that she originally got involved with the podcast when she responded to an email put out by ND International Study Abroad.

“They sent out an email saying, ‘We're doing a podcast or some kind of social media thing’ because of the circumstances with this year, of study abroad getting cancelled both spring and fall semester, they were worried,” Perez said. “Usually kids get notified about study abroad from other kids that have studied abroad. I applied to the position because I loved my time abroad and I love talking about my time abroad.”

Perez said that during the time of planning out the podcast, she took charge and helped shape the podcast into a student-based interview approach that she hoped would be more relatable to listeners who are apprehensive about going abroad.

Moving forward, she plans on interviewing people who have studied abroad all over the world.

This week’s new episode will highlight summer abroad programs, which Perez said would be an amazing option for any student who was planning to study abroad this school year.

“This episode talks a lot about summer programs, the diversity between them and how great your experience can be, even though it's only like a month or two, as opposed to a full semester one,” Perez said. “[The] Study Abroad Office is really pushing for summer programs because they're hoping that a lot of kids that either were supposed to study abroad this fall or the spring, will maybe still get a chance to over the summer.”

Overall, Perez hopes that the message students take away from her new podcast is that study abroad is whatever you make of it.

“My whole goal of interviewing a bunch of different students to get a bunch of different perspectives and different experiences on study abroad,” Perez said. “There's a lot of freedom, and whatever you want to get out of your abroad experience you can.”