GoAbroad Interview

Grace Wolfe - Academic Coordinator

Grace Wolfe - Academic Coordinator

Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Grace always had a desire to get out of her small hometown but never knew how far she would go. Upon entering the University of Texas at Austin, Grace planned to further her studies in dental school, but found the major of International Relations and Global Studies her sophomore year and immediately switched. As a requirement, students with that major are required to study abroad and Grace immersed herself in the Spanish language with SOL the summer of 2013 in Argentina and Costa Rica! After a summer full of changed perspectives, a small town girl fell in love with the big international world and was bit by the travel bug. Grace’s time abroad and time spent studying foreign relations at her home university inspired her to continue traveling as often as possible, one day reaching her goal of traveling to every continent. She pursued her studies in International Relations and Global Studies, Latin American Studies, Spanish, and Business whilst interning with SOL during the academic year. As a recent graduate, Grace now works full time with SOL and she enjoys the opportunity to share her story and help guide students through a process that will change their lives for years to come.

How did you start working with SOL Education Abroad? What is your current role?

As a junior at the University of Texas, I was required to study abroad for my undergraduate degree of International Relations & Global Studies. I took the road less traveled and decided not to study abroad with a UT program but rather immerse myself in Spanish through SOL Education Abroad. After studying in Argentina and Costa Rica with SOL, I fell in love with the company and began interning at SOL’s headquarters in Austin, Texas my senior year of college. Shortly after graduating May 2014, I took the summer to travel to Australia. Shortly after that, I began working for SOL full-time as an Academic Coordinator and Recruiter. Now, I have the privilege of telling students about SOL and walking them through a process that will change their lives for the better!

A group of students in Iguazu falls

A once in a life opportunity to see Iguazu Falls with SOL.

What makes SOL unique from other study abroad providers in your opinion?

SOL has heart and soul in their programs. The on-site directors love their countries and simply want you to become part of their world, the host families love you like you are one of their own children, and the academics are unbeatable. Above all else, the price of SOL is not only the most affordable option to study abroad, but includes so much! It’s very common that it’s cheaper for students to study abroad, than to study at their home university here in the states.

What makes your program in Argentina most beneficial for students?

SOL’s programs focus on the immersion process for students learning Spanish. As such, everything is planned out to immerse the students in both the formal setting of a classroom as well as informal settings. In Argentina, a cultural activity students participate in once or twice a week is called Mate Club. Mate, a traditional drink of Argentina (much like tea), is shared between the SOL students and local Argentine university students for intercambio. This intercambio is a language exchange for the Argentine students wanting to learn English and the SOL students practicing their Spanish. Cultural activities like this immerse students deeper into a richer and more real culture of Argentina.

Students in Cementerio de la Recoleta

A photo in the midst of the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta

What is the most popular program activity among students?

One of the most unforgettable experiences students go home from Argentina raving about is the excursion to Iguazu Falls. Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, SOL students have the opportunity to see and get soaked in the great 180 degree view waterfalls of South America. Iguazu Falls is one of those places you just have to experience personally!

What are the typical characteristics that you look for in potential participants?

The typical SOL-mate has a passion for seeing another world outside the U.S. and wants to experience another culture. Many students are Spanish language lovers who desire to become fluent to open their communication with people they are otherwise closed off to because of a language barrier.

What are the steps that SOL Education Abroad has in place to ensure the safety of students?

Safety is a large potential factor in a student’s decision to study abroad in a foreign country. SOL believes safety to be a high priority for students. A few examples of our safety protocols include airport pickups and transportations, any in-country transportation while traveling as a group, host family background checks and extensive interviews, as well as amazing on-site staff to ensure the day-to-day safety of students.

What is one piece of advice that you give or would give to incoming students?

Don’t hold back. Studying abroad was the best decision of my undergraduate studies. Go study abroad for as long as you can, as many times possible, and immerse yourself in a new culture and language. Seeing the world changes your perspective and opens you up to an entirely new world; learning a language allows you to connect with people that you would otherwise never be able to have a conversation with and learn from.

Students with local kids in Argentina

Meeting local kids in the streets of Argentina.

Explain a typical day for student on SOL’s Argentina program.

In the grandest city of South America, a typical day is never too typical. After breakfast with your host family, a student hops on the subway to attend a local university for classes. Once the school day is over, students participate in cultural activities, explore Buenos Aires, study, meet with friends, or have dinner with their host family. Weekends include traveling around the country of Argentina and seeing more than the affluent city of Buenos Aires. Excursions on the weekends include experiencing the breathtaking falls of Iguazu Falls, spending a day at a traditional Argentine gaucho (cowboy) ranch, and floating down the river town of El Tigre, just to name a few.

How do local staff in Argentina help support students on a daily basis and attend to their continually changing needs?

The local director in Argentina, Raul de la Mano, is not just an aspect of our program, he is the heart and soul of every experience undertaken while studying abroad with SOL. Raul goes above and beyond for each student and treats the students as family, even inviting everyone into his home for movie nights and get togethers. Raul walks through every aspect of academics, excursion, cultural activities, travel suggestions, and host families with students. As an alumna of the Argentina SOL program, Raul made a lasting impact on my life through the way he genuinely cared for us as students.

Students with thier program director in Austin, Texas

A reunion with program Director Raul de la Mano & SOL students in Austin, Texas.

Are there any new locations, programs, or activities that will be added to SOL Education Abroad in the near future?

SOL is sticking with what we know: Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain. We are perfecting and constantly innovating each program to offer students the most unforgettable time of their life.

Where do you see SOL Education Abroad in the next year?

Sol Education Abroad is relentlessly innovating! With so many SOL alumni working in our headquarters in Austin, Texas we have the opportunity to modernize and rejuvenate each program for the ever changing university student demographic and to fulfill students’ expectations and desires while abroad.