Personal Growth and Purpose
Michelle Futo studied abroad in Leysin, Switzerland. She was raised in Coral Springs, Florida, USA and currently resides in Tallahassee, FL where she works at the Florida State University Career Center. There, she is the Assistant Director for Mock Interviews and Employer Development. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree at Florida State University where she majored in instructional systems and learning technology. During her undergraduate years, she participated in FSU International Programs’ hospitality study abroad program. It was during this program in Leysin, Switzerland that she realized her passion for traveling abroad. Michelle adopted a new travel perspective inspired by her spontaneous excursions during her time abroad. She carried this perspective with her to the U.S. where she continued to dream of her next trip abroad. Read more to learn where her dream will take her next!
What sparked your dream to travel abroad?
“I feel traveling abroad is truly the best way to learn about yourself and grow as a person. Traveling requires a blend of flexibility and planning. It requires courage and fear of the unknown. When I learned about the Leysin, Switzerland program I immediately knew I wanted to participate. I had always dreamed of visiting Switzerland. The program provided a lot of free time for independent travel which was ideal.”
What were your expectations before you left? How have they changed?
“I expected to have a lot more pre-planned excursions prior to leaving the United States. However, upon arrival in Switzerland, I decided to be more spontaneous with my independent travel plans. I planned excursions based on my weekly interests. In doing so, I was able to visit over 9 countries and 21 cities in just 5 weeks! I took that approach to heart. It’s the approach I use now when I plan international trips. I like to plan where I’ll be staying, but leave my days open. This way, I can ask locals what they recommend while I check everything out upon arrival. I tend to not get stuck in “tourist trap” areas.”
What did you not expect?
“I did not expect Switzerland – actually, most of Europe – to be so environmentally friendly. They charge for plastic bags, have recycling bins on lots of street corners, and overall seem to be more connected to climate change issues than the U.S. I appreciated the environmental intentionality. I wish my home country felt the same.”
What’s your next step?
“After studying abroad, it solidified my desire to want to work abroad for six months to one year. Teaching, interning, studying, or working odd jobs abroad sounds wonderful. Ideally, I’d like to head back to Switzerland. My next step is preparing my application materials to international universities and international internships to hopefully begin in Fall 2019.”
What advice would you give to a student with the dream to study abroad?
“Do whatever it takes to make it happen. Work two jobs, or skip eating out once or twice a week. Save your money for truly impactful experiences. Look into resources to help you achieve your dream. Most universities allow students to study abroad through their programs, regardless of whether you are a student of theirs or not. Do your research, save money and make it happen!”