“It is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation or race is, anybody can study abroad.” — Dilyn Riesterer
Edgewood is truly a unique place in that they’ve got all the bases covered with elementary and middle schools, a high school, and college all on the same campus. So it is only natural that a college like this has a whip smart study abroad advisor to help facilitate the school’s global reach.
Not only did Dilyn study abroad twice (once in Austria, once in Germany), but she also holds a Master’s degree in Global Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin — Madison, so it is safe to say that she was a good fit for the show and someone who shares my passion for international education.
In this episode Dilyn and I discuss her own study abroad journey, overcoming fears while traveling, and learn about a European beverage that I did not know existed until now 🍌🍺.
Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.— Anthony Bourdain
Chris: Welcome to the Study Abroadcast, everyone. This is Chris along with Dilyn Riesterer and she’s a study abroad advisor at Edgewood College. So, if you’re thinking about going to Edgewood College, or you go to Edgewood College, or you’re abroad and you’re thinking about coming to Edgewood College, listen up. We’re going to figure out how to study abroad in Madison, which is a great place to be if you’re a student or anyone. Welcome, Dilyn.
Dilyn: Thank you.
Chris: Yeah. Just a little background actually. I just read that Edgewood College got ranked on Money Magazine’s Best Value, or something, for a school. That’s pretty cool for 2018-2019. So, we’re here in Madison on the gorgeous campus of Edgewood College and thank you for being here.
Dilyn: Of course. Thanks for having me.
Chris: You’re welcome. So, Dilyn, you’re obviously involved in international education and we’ll get a little more into that, but why don’t you take us through your first time when you were a student studying abroad and the process you went through and where you went. Tell us about that trip.
Dilyn: I was studying at St. Norbert college in De Pere, Wisconsin. I was studying communication media studies, as well as just taking a few classes in the German language, and I came across an opportunity to do just a summer program in Strobl, Austria, and so this was a five-week summer program called Summer hochschule, which is basically a program that is sponsored by the University of Vienna that brought together students from 30 different nationalities to discuss and study European law, media and privacy, as well as the German language.
Dilyn: Yeah, it was an incredible experience, so after that, I knew that studying abroad for a full semester was going to be the next step for me.
Chris: So you did the whole semester them.
Dilyn: After that, I went back to St. Norbert for one semester and then prepared to leave for my second study abroad experience, which started out with two months of intensive language training back in Vienna, Austria. Then, subsequently following that, I moved to Germany and did
A semester of studies. So that was aq really neat program that I got to spend two months in Vienna, Austria, which is just an incredible city, preparing for the language components of my university classes that I’d then be taking in Germany.
Chris: So can you speak German the, a little?
Dilyn: No, I can struggle through it.
Chris: That’s how I am in Spanish. Well, ok, so two times studying abroad. Then you got back and you went to graduate school and you did global education here in Madison?
Dilyn: Yeah, so I had a year back at St. Norbert trying to figure out what to do.
Chris: Like everyone.
Dilyn: Yes, exactly.
Dilyn: And then the track that I chose was global higher ed, which was a cohort model where I got to study with other students who were either international students or have had great international experience, as well as engaging together to learn about the field of international higher education.
Chris: Nice. Until I talked to you, I didn’t even know that was an option for a major. I mean I know when you get into graduate school there are different facets and avenues you can take, but I had no idea you could study global higher education.
Dilyn: Yeah, it’s a very new program, but just incredible. I think this field is growing and so it’s important now to have the focus on that area of study.
Chris: Yeah, it’s definitely growing. That’s awesome that you went twice. I always say that just for getting into graduate school or getting a job after school, it makes poor students good and good students, great, etc., etc. I mean that’s why we’re here doing the podcast. So, you’ve been at Edgewood College now for a while and you mentioned the program you did to study abroad in vienna, Austria. Could you tell us, if there are any students listening who would be interested in coming to Edgewood, the best path to take in order to get here, or what’s the best way to do it.
Dilyn: Are you talking about degree-seeking or exchange or anything?
Dilyn: Anything, yeah. I mean we have here in the center for Global Education, we’re very dedicated to making sure that students can have these experiences and we’re an extremely welcoming campus to international students. So myself, the two co-directors of this office, as well as our admissions team are happy to engage with anybody who has questions about coming to study here at Edgewood.
Chris: Ok, so just contact you guys.
Dilyn: Absolutely, yeah.
Chris: And so then from when you studied abroad, could you tell us, well it doesn’t have to be from studying abroad, but could you tell us a travel story or something you might tell at a dinner party or to someone. .
Dilyn: There are so many great stories of things i’ve seen, things i’ve done. Just so many experiences. But, I’m gonna talk about maybe just one of the more unfortunate experiences i’ve had.
Chris: Ok, those are good to hear, too.
Dilyn: Yeah, I feel it’s important to recognize. So, flying, this was my second time studying abroad, we arrived in – and we I mean students i didn’t know yet – we all met in Vienna, Austria, and it was a snow storm and so we just briefly walked through the city center and then were taken to our apartments and left there. I was living alone in my apartment at this time and I went to the bathroom and when I went to open the door to get back out, I could not get it open.
Chris: So you were in the bathroom.
Dilyn: I was in the bathroom, stuck in this bathroom.
Chris: Oh no!
Dilyn: I was pounding on the door, trying to kick it and everything. It took me an hour to get out of the bathroom. I was screaming because then i started to freak out, why can’t I get this door open. And i had locked it.
Chris: Did you guys have cell phones yet? You had just gotten there…
Dilyn: We just got there and, you know, I still had my jacket and everything, not settled at all and first thing that happened to me is I’m locked in this bathroom for an hour.
Dilyn: And so now I have this fear of locking doors.
Chris: Yeah, or just getting trapped anywhere.
Dilyn: Or getting trapped.
Chris: So when you got out, did you figure out what it was? It wasn’t open or obvious, was it? What happened?
Dilyn: The lock got jammed. I never locked it again. I was the only one living there so it didn’t really matter, but, yeah, it wa just a faulty lock. I just started rattling it back and forth, and eventually I got it to loosen.
Chris: Did you know and no one heard you?
Dilyn: I was screaming, knocking. Nobody came. You know, you start thinking well, ok, maybe tomorrow if i don’t show up for class, somebody will come look for me. These kinds of thoughts started coming through my head. It was a really scary experience that didn’t really start the experience off great. But I followed that up by traveling to budapest with a friend to kind of get over this fear and went crawling through caves. And so lots of tight spaces, being underground and I mean i was just shaking going in the experience. But, all in all, it was so incredible and such a fun day of adventuring and trying to conquer that original fear of it.
Chris: Nice. Ok, so a little advice to everyone – if you’re leaving to different country, make sure that you don’t get locked in somewhere, or make sure you can get out before you lock the door. Thanks for the cautionary tale, Dilyn. Here on campus, if I was a student at Edgewood College and came into your office, what would you tell me. Like, I’m thinking of studying abroad, but I don’t know if i can afford it. What would you say to a student just thinking about it?
Dilyn: I would definitely, at that point, I would get to know that student. Maybe what their goal is for studying abroad, why it came to mind in the first place, is there any part of the world they’re really interested in going. And then i would encourage them to set up a meeting with our peer advisor, which is a student who works for the Center for Global Education who has studeed abroad.
Chris: Oh, that’s really nice. My school didn’t have that.
Dilyn: Oh, really? Yeah, t’s really great because they get to talk to somebody who is on the same level as them as being a student here and can talk about how did they afford studying abroad versus me telling them studying abroad is affordable.
Chris: It’s a fallacy.
Chris: Students think you just have to be loaded in order to do it. You can get away with – as far as your college education goes and that cost – you can get away with going for the cost of a plane ticket, everything being equal. And, especially if you[‘re going to a private school ike Edgewood, or paying out-of-state tuition, it can b even be cheaper.
Dilyn: We truly do make it affordable and, you know, those are discussions I’m willing to have with students, as well. If they’re worried about finances, I’m not going to say you should study in Australia, or something, where the cost of living is so extreme. We can find programs where it might be even cheaper for you to study abroad than be living here in madison.
Chris: Right, yeah. So if you’re on campus, come and visit Dilyn and she’ll set you up with a career advisor and you’re off and running. Ok, a few rapid fire questions, Dilyn, so everyone can get to know you a little better. What would be a book you would recommend?
Dilyn: I just actually finished a book called American Radial which looks into the life of an American Muslim who moved here from Saudi Arabia. He is an FBI agent in New York and has to go undercover to look into terrorism. I just kind of really opens your eyes to some of those beliefs of Muslims, because I’m not Muslim so I wanted to learn more about it. This book was really great because it was his perspective of being an American Muslim, as well as the Muslim perspective from Saudi Arabia, kind of in the framework of 911.
Chris: Post-911, right? So it puts you into the shoes of this American Muslim.
Dilyn: The book kind of starts off when 911 happens and his reaction to it – ok, because I‘m American Muslim, what am I gonna do about this.
Chris: All right. I’ll have to check that one out. Thank you for the recommendation. And then, the topic of food, which is a big reason why I studied abroad and why probably a lot of people do travel – to try different food. First of all, for international students listening, what’s your favorite food here in the States, or from home?
Dilyn: I’m a huge soup person. My mom makes this fantastic chicken noodle soup, which is a classic, and just a very homey soup where, you know, on those cold winter days, especially here in Wisconsin, I think it’s just such a classic for the American culture to have homemade soup.
Chris: So if you’re an international student listening, we’ve got great chicken noodle soup here. You’ll just have to head to Dilyn’s house.
Dilyn: Yes, all are welcome.
Chris: Like she said, the foods change with the seasons actually, so if you’re living in a climate where the seasons don’t change too much, you can check out Edgewood College for a taste of the four seasons which, in Madison, is beautiful. It’s a great place to be if you’re thinking about coming to the United States. When you were studying abroad in Austria or Germany, what’s something that you remember from there that you wish you could have here?
Dilyn: Well, being in Austria, I have to say wiener schnitzel, which is a very traditional dish. For those of you who don’t know what wiener schnitzel is, it’s a thin cut of veal that’s breaded and then fried an garnished with a lemon. It’s just very, very good.
Chris: I wish I could have one of those for lunch today. Ok, if you walk into a bar, what are you ordering?
Dilyn: Did you want here in the States, or abroad?
Dilyn: Here in the States,. I would have to go with any sort of cocktail that has gin in it. I really enjoy gin. Or wine. But abroad, living in Germany, I really enjoyed the beer there.
Chris: Of course.
Dilyn: One in particular is called bananaweizen. It’s basically our wheat beer, well their wheat beer, with banana juice.
Chris: Oooh, I didn’t even know banana juice was a thing.
Dilyn: We just don’t have it here and so if you go to Germany, just try it. Don’t knock it til you try it because it’s actually really good. If you’ve had wheat beer before, it already has that hint of banana flavor, so this just kind of exemplifies it a little bit more.
Chris: I want to go there. The stuff there sounds better than the stuff here. I want wiener schnitzel and a banana beer. What’s it called again?
Chris: Bananaweizen – ok. All right, do you have a quote you’d like to tell?
Dilyn: I was a big Anthony Bourdain fan so in honor of him, he has this quote that says, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly. You leave marks behind, however small, and in return, life and travel leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks on your body or on your heart are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” And so I find this quote really interesting and I try to internalize it. I do a lot of journaling and writing my perspective on how travel can be something so beautiful, but how it does hurt, because for me hurt truly is engendered by travel. It’s this realization of everything that you have learned while traveling, but everything that you’ve yet to come to know and realize about the world and experience in the world, as well as once you have that travel bug – that constant desire to move, to keep traveling – but then finding peace of mind at home. I think in particular that’s one that really stand out to me.
Chris: I still can’t believe he’s gone now. He’s got a ton of good quotes actually. Think Exist or that quote page. Is there anything else you’d like to add to the students listening? Just to give you a little… the reason I started this is because if you’re thinking about studying abroad, you can look at travel blogs and advice for travelers until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing really geared toward study abroad students in the way of a podcast. But there are blogs, so I’m basically trying to shift that copy into audio and that’s why we’re here. You obviously recommend doing it for any student, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Dilyn: Yeah, if I could study abroad a hundred times, I would. But truly, I just want to emphasize, and you’ve already said it, it is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is, what your race is, anybody can study abroad and we truly, truly in this office here want to help students have those experiences and make sure that it’s the best possible fit for each student.
Chris: Well thank you very much for being here. You guys, if you don’t want to keep coming to the website to look at new interviews, I’ll post them all on social media so you can follow us ther. Otherwise, take care and we’ll see you next time. Thanks a lot, Dilyn.
Dilyn: Thank you.
Edgewood College By The Numbers INFOGRAPHIC