GoAbroad Interview

Allison Hradecky - Academic Coordinator

Allison Hradecky - Academic Coordinator

Growing up in Houston, Texas, one of the most diverse cities in the nation, Allison was constantly surrounded by many beautiful cultures. Wanting to experience them firsthand, she studied abroad with SOL during college. Her time in Argentina and Spain opened her eyes to the world around her and helped her grow and become a better person. She joined SOL as a staff member in 2015 and is thrilled to have the opportunity to help others go abroad and have the experience of a lifetime!

You’ve traveled to both Argentina and Spain with Sol Education Abroad. What inspired you to travel abroad initially?

I grew up traveling domestically quite a bit with my family, whether it be for a vacation or a quick trip to see friends and extended family. These trips are some of my favorite memories of growing up and I knew that when I got older, I wanted to travel more and see the world. Once I got to college, SOL visited one of my Spanish classes to talk about their programs abroad and got me so excited to travel that I applied to the Buenos Aires program that night!

Visitors at Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

Allison with her SOLmates Andrea and Alexa in front of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

How did you transition from program participant to staff member?

After I graduated from the University of Houston, I worked in the marketing and public relations industry for a few years, but never stopped traveling. Last year, I went on a family trip to Costa Rica that reminded me of my time abroad with SOL and it really opened my eyes to what I wanted out of my life and career. I decided to pursue a job in international education, and was lucky enough to find one with SOL!

How does your experience in your previous career help you in your role with Sol Education Abroad?

I can’t stress enough about how much I learned during my time in that industry. One of the best skills I acquired is the ability to relate and communicate with people from all walks of life. Studying abroad can be overwhelming for any student at first, so being able to talk them through all kinds of pre-departure jitters and questions has been very helpful!

What does your day-to-day job entail? How do you interact with students?

I help students navigate through the study abroad process and prepare them for what to expect when they finally make it to their destination. One of my favorite aspects of my job is answering questions that relate to my time abroad. I love getting students excited about their trip by talking to them about my time abroad with SOL.

Oceanview near Costa del Sol in Nerja, Spain

Enjoying the view on an excursion to Costa del Sol in Nerja, Spain

If Sol Education Abroad did not visit your Spanish class, do you think you would still be working in international education?

I think that I would have found my way to this industry one way or another, but it might have taken me longer to find it! Travel and education have been always been such huge parts of my life, it only makes sense that I ended up where I am today.

What made your experience with Sol Education Abroad in Buenos Aires extraordinary?

One hundred percent my host mother and the onsite director, Raul. Both were so passionate about sharing their culture that it made my experience extremely meaningful and exciting. Raul went above and beyond to make my group of SOLmates feel at home in a foreign country; he even invited us to his home to celebrate New Years with his family! I’ll never forget watching the fireworks from his balcony.

International travel through study abroad can teach students plenty about themselves and the world. What is the biggest lesson students learn during their time abroad, in your opinion?

Studying abroad helps students understand that their biggest barrier is themselves, but once they break through that comfort zone, the possibilities are truly endless.

Girls at Floralis Genérica in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Allison and her SOLmate Amanda at the Floralis Genérica in Buenos Aires, Argentina

What do you think the most important advantage of studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country is?

Spanish is one of the most widely used languages in the entire world, and being able to navigate not only through the language, but the various cultures of Spanish-speaking countries as well can open so many doors. Just the other day I met a stranger who had just moved to the U.S. from Spain and we were able to bond over our shared experiences!

If you could study abroad on a Sol Education Abroad program again, which destination will you choose, Costa Rica or Mexico?

Since I recently traveled to Costa Rica, the last program destination to knock off my SOL bucket list is Oaxaca, Mexico! Not only are our Oaxaca directors absolutely fantastic, there is something beautiful and mysterious about Oaxaca that draws me in. I would love the opportunity to explore and navigate the Oaxacan culture!

What makes Sol Education Abroad programs stand out from similar programs from other international education program providers?

I think the two things that separate us the most from other organizations are affordability and our onsite teams in each country. We work really hard each year to provide amazing, hands on programs that allow our students to fully experience each city, without breaking the bank (I can personally vouch for this as a SOL alumni!). Also, our onsite directors pour their passion and enthusiasm into their jobs every single day, which makes all the difference in the world. I can’t tell you how many students we’ve had that tell us how much they miss their directors!

Sol Education Abroad staff members with new participant at main office

Some of the SOL team with future Oaxaca SOLmate at the headquarters in Austin, TX

What do you love most about working for Sol Education Abroad?

I love my SOL team! From our U.S. staff in Austin to our onsite staff in our four locations, everyone is so genuine and fun to work with!