One absolutely critical part to complete my file for ISA was getting approval from my university’s study-abroad advisor.

Now let me tell you, and nothing against my wonderful, soon-to-be-alma-mater of Rockhurst University, but being a transfer student I have always had minimal guidance from my advisor. Before transferring, I attended by state school, and there it was every man for himself. I signed up for classes when I got the email notification I could, never speaking with any sort of advisor (at least one that actually advised) along the way.

When I transferred in as a biology major to Rockhurst, I was dumped on a biology professor. Eventually when I changed my major and added the bio and physics of medicine minor, I officially had three advisors. However I never really got any advice because I always had everything pretty well figured out, just out habit from being expected to do this at my old school. I kept to myself, and went to my advisors when I needed them to sign off on something of give me my pin to sign up for classes.

So as you can imagine what a big surprise it was when I went to check in with the study abroad advisor, thinking it would take two minutes and I’d never see the guy again, and he gave me a laundry list of requirements with quickly approaching due dates from Rockhurst in order to set me up to study abroad with ISA.


But—I got through it. Most of what I had to do consisted of:

1) Getting pre-approval of transfer credit
2) Gathering my ISA Granada acceptance letter, flight info, and emergency contact info
3) Attending a handful of informational sessions and writing a reflection.

The sessions—although tedious between my many classes and applications to medical school—were actually a lot of help. We’d usually start out talking about high-context vs. low context cultures, but my study abroad advisor had traveled so extensively, including to Granada, that the conversation always evolved into his own personal experiences and sharing our experiences of travel abroad. If you happen to reading this Stephen Holland-Wempe, thanks for putting up with me, and thanks for the great conversation!

The main point of this post is this: if you want to study abroad and haven’t talked to your advisor or any advisor at your school; do it, NOW. EVEN BEFORE YOU APPLY TO ISA OR ANOTHER PROGRAM. This will save you a lot of time later on.

Also, if you don’t know what high and low context cultures are, make sure to research it soon :)


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