I used to play a game at the airport on my way to NAFSA conferences. I called it "spot the international educator". It was little things that were a giveaway -- a Peace Corps tote bag, Bjorn/Clarks shoes, wrinkle-free flowing travel clothes, a university luggage tag, a cell phone conversation about an in-office emergency as they were about to board a plane... I know I am ridiculous, but I was good at spotting my fellow IE colleagues!
Obviously, you can't tell by looking at someone whether or not they work in international education, but there are still some things we all talk about, or joke about, because they are shared work experiences. In the spirit of this same fun, here are my top seven signs you are a study abroad advisor:
7. Date Amnesia
When the New Year rolls in you’ve got it covered. You've been writing out 2016 for a good 6-12 months as you work on future program enrollment. Despite this fact, you can never remember what year it is. Sometimes date amnesia is accompanied by complete lack of seasonal awareness. (But you still measure time in semesters)
6. Terminology Aversion
The terms "trip"and "tour" make you shudder and want to stand on your desk chair, asserting "We are not a travel agency!" Similarly, if you had a quarter for every essay where the student wants to immerse or submerge themselves abroad, you'd be able to retire now and go on an actual trip.
5. Travel Warning Twitch
Your friend mentions her upcoming beach vacation in Mexico and your internal work dialogue starts, “Does she know there is a Travel Warning? I wonder if she has insurance with evacuation or global assist? Does her policy cover D.O.S. travel warning countries?”
4. Social Media Spillover
You are cruising your Facebook feed to relax and you see there's been an earthquake on the other side of the world. You you instantly pop out your smartphone to do a locator search for students and go into emergency mode—even when you know there are no programs there. You are just certain the phone will ring, regardless. The 24/7 nature of our jobs (and mobility of our students) mean there is no off switch.
3. Wanderlust-killing Pragmatism
When you hear someone swoon about one day moving to [insert country here] to open a farm to table B&B, you inadvertantly kill their joy with, “You do realize you need a work visa, right? And have you researched property ownership rights in that country? How about tax treaties?”
2. The Box of Bags
They range from the nicer conference bags (NAFSA/Forum) to the nifty canvas totes from partner universities...you have them all. And you can't bear to toss them out. But when it comes to BYO grocery bags, you've got it covered. If you already purged the bags, you likely still have the name badges & flair. You know who you are!
1. A Prominently Displayed Postcard Collection
Admit it...Your heart swoons when a student sends you a postcard from abroad. You've got those suckers pinned up like trophies in your office. You get butterflies when students thank you for your help and even more grins when it's from the student who was always late with paperwork. The fact that they developed the agency to hunt down a stamp and mail you an update from abroad (unprompted) makes you feel like a proud parent. THIS is why we do the work we do-- study abroad changes lives.