GoAbroad Interview

Ashley Jeanson - U.S. First Year Undergraduate Advisor

Ashley Jeanson - U.S. First Year Undergraduate Advisor

Ashley is a 30-year-old self-professed travel addict. Originally from San Diego, she just made the move east to live in NYC. The most important things that have happened in her life revolve around travel: she spent a year in London getting her masters in education, she has traveled to 16 countries in total, and she now works for Across the Pond, helping others take the leap needed to fulfill their dreams abroad.

How did you first hear about Across the Pond?

I first learned about Across the Pond through a mutual friend of an ATP advisor. That advisor ended up being my advisor, and is now my boss! Crazy how life works out.

Girl drinking tea in England

Tea time!

Other than the obvious influence over your professional career, how has your own experience earning a master’s degree in London changed your life and your perspective of the world?

Living abroad is a major life changer. I became a more independent thinker. Social norms I once thought was commonplace were challenged; London is especially great for this. An average day in the classroom or night at the pub will bring about interesting and thought-provoking conversations about politics, life, religion, and any controversial subject you can think of. Londoners are especially witty and adept in the art of conversation. I felt that London, and my year-long journey there, was about revealing truth, as well as understanding other perspectives differing from my own. It was fascinating.

How do you explain the immense power that study abroad can have to students?

Living in a different country and immersing oneself in a different culture is invaluable. Once a student goes through the incredibly profound experience of living in another culture different from the bubble they grew up in, the heart and the mind are changed forever. Students become more sensitive and aware of what is happening in the world, more skilled at working with different cultures in the workplace, and more in tune with their authentic selves. Students obtain a true growth mindset they end up carrying throughout life.

You maintain a blog and enjoy writing about life in London. What makes London a great place for study abroad?

London is one of the most compelling cities I will ever have had the pleasure of living in. There is an endless amount of intellect, fun, history, and culture oozing out of every pore of that fair city! I had no shortage of things to do on the weekends: free museums, cultural fairs, bustling markets, amazing international foods, etc. My little city-loving heart was incredibly happy to be in such an amazing, multicultural hub. In London, you get an extra education on top of your formal education. Not to mention the cheap ticket prices you’ll find in London for weekend trips to Spain and France!

International students in London

Making international friends in London was a highlight of my time there!

What is the most beneficial aspect of Across the Pond’s services?

Across the Pond makes things easy and streamlined for students so they don’t have to sweat the small stuff. We help research programs, fill out confusing applications, assist with the visa process, and give first hand advice on what it’s like to live and study in the U.K. Basically, we help with everything from applying to actually stepping foot on British soil. Oh, and our services are free, who doesn’t love that?

Your career in international education began long before your work with Across the Pond. How do you use the knowledge and experience you gained in your past roles to better prepare Across the Pond students?

I was lucky to work with American students coming to London for what was usually their first experience living abroad (for six week programs). This gave me insight on the tribulations all different types of students face moving to the U.K., even for short programs. From my own experience and theirs, I feel better equipped to cater to all questions and concerns, especially those rooted in fear.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

I’m not sure there is much of a typical work day at Across the Pond, and that’s what I like about it. All advisors work from home, so we have full autonomy crafting our own schedules. My “typical” work day revolves around helping as many students as possible. Sometimes we are on the road for university fairs; you may see our table at a grad/study abroad fair near you!

How do you ensure that each participant is matched with the best program to suit their goals and needs?

We match students to programs by giving them the personal attention they need when making such a huge decision. Some factors that come into play include: GPA, work experience, interests, and even where they desire to live in the U.K. Through that personal attention I am able to get a good feel for what student truly wants, as well as which universities they are realistically qualified for. Furthermore, sending students to the UK for a new life abroad is my true passion.

It’s fun to research programs with them, and I enjoy helping them figure out their next big adventure.

Visiting a castle in Scotland

Laura, my traveling buddy and fellow American expat (here we are in Scotland)

Taking into consideration your numerous conversations with students of every kind, what is the biggest misconception that students have about study abroad? How do you help overturn this misconception?

The biggest misconception, by far, is that it is too expensive. What a lot of American students don’t know is that all of our partner universities in the U.K. take U.S. federal loans (and private loans). Furthermore, in England and Wales an undergraduate degree is only three years in length! Once the actual numbers are presented, American students have found that a British education is quite comparable and in some cases cheaper than in the United States!

What is your favorite part about working for Across the Pond?

By far, my favorite part about being an advisor for ATP is helping U.S. students fulfill a dream of living and studying abroad when they didn’t think it was possible. I went to live and study in the U.K. when I was 27! You’re never too “old” to fulfill your dream. Going to London for my education was my best year yet. I’m happy to pay it forward and help others have their best year yet.