Interview with Amanda Bates

Describe your post-graduate international experience(s) or program(s).

I did two international opportunities after completing my undergraduate degree. While I was completing my second Masters (M.Ed in Counselor Education), one of my professors shared that there was a short-term summer opportunity to Italy through another university for counseling students. Because I’ve always have an international focus (grew up abroad), I thought it would be a good chance to a) go to a country I’d never visited and b) learn counseling from a very different perspective. Since there are so few graduate-level counseling study abroad programs, I jumped on the chance. I spent two weeks in the Tuscan and Umbria region of Italy, which was incredible. The food, the art, the landscape was amazing. I also learned quite a bit from my colleagues who were American counselors at American universities in Florence, Italy. My second opportunity was my final year of my M.Ed program. As a requirement, you must complete an internship as part of the counseling program. I opted to take a year and fulfill this requirement abroad at the Doha, Qatar campus of my university. It took some work to get it coordinated but it was a unique chance to practice my counseling skills in completely different cultural context. Plus, it was my first time travelling (and living) in Asia.

How did you find out about this program or opportunity?

I found out about both opportunities through my professors in M.Ed program. The head of my department was incredibly helpful. She shared information about opportunities and then faculty members made sure everything was align for me to spend a year in Qatar.

What are some highlights of your experience abroad?

I’m a foodie — so I loved experiencing new food cultures. Italian food in Italy is unparalleled. Without saying, local pasta, pizza and wine were some of my favorites. In addition, the slower pace of life. We took bike rides in the Italian countryside, played volleyball near a vineyard, and saw a lot of Italian art. In the same way, Qatar was just as fascinating. I was able to camp in the desert with my students, go on a desert safari outside of Abu Dhabi, and have a traditional Qatari meal in a student’s home.

What advice do you have for NC State students considering going abroad after graduation?

It’s a great time to go. If you didn’t study abroad as an undergrad, you can still go in graduate school. It may take creativity and some serious planning, but the possibilities are out there. Some of the study abroad funding available to undergrads is available to graduate and professional students. And if you want to go abroad (and it’s not related to school), you should still do it. There are experiences that you will have that just can’t be replicated at home.

How did you bring your “whole self” to your international experience(s)?

I’m an avid traveler so at this point I’m just comfortable being me abroad. I do conduct research before I go to get a good idea of how folks with my intersections might be treated (American, Black/African, Female, Christian, etc.) so I know what to expect. I also try to be highly respectful of the spaces I’m in. I recognize when I may need to make adjustments when entering unfamiliar social contexts. From a safety standpoint — it just make sense for me, especially when travelling solo.

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