Our team is located all across Asia Pacific and the United States.  TEAN headquarters is based in Chicago. Learn more about our team and the amazing people that help make TEAN the experts in the Asia Pacific.

USA Based Staff

Lily Andrules

Assistant Program Manager

Lily had her first international experience when she traveled to Reutlingen, Germany in high school on an exchange program. While completing her Bachelor of Arts at Temple University, she studied and interned abroad in London during the fall semester of her junior year. When she returned, she realized that she had grown a huge passion for promoting students to think and live globally, and started to pursue a career in the field of international education. Prior to joining TEAN, she had the opportunity to work in student services and institutional relations.

Q&A

What keeps you busy outside of your work for TEAN?
I’m definitely one of those people who feels like they’re never busy enough. I’m on the board in my alma mater’s alumni association in Chicago (Go Temple Owls!). I also am on the associates board for Streetwise, a non profit in the Chicago area that provides job opportunities as well as other services for Chicago’s homeless. I also run a food blog with my sister in my spare time.

Your undergraduate degree was in Film and Media Arts, what led your to your current role?
This is a question I get a lot. After studying abroad I worked at my college’s study abroad office. It was the realization that no matter how difficult or challenging work was that day I still loved my job with all my heart that led me to study abroad advising. As soon as I realized this I threw myself into the international education as much as I could to get experience, and eventually it led me to TEAN.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is when I hear back from students about how incredible their time abroad was, or get to see their photos on the #TEANabroad tag on Instagram. Knowing that they’re having a great experience is very rewarding.

As a passionate foodie what have been some of the food highlights from your travels?
Korean barbecue is equal parts a taste bud and cultural experience. My favourite spot was this little place that was just barely big enough to stand up in that we went during the TEAN Orientation in Seoul. One of the coolest parts of my time in China was when we went to a cooking class and learned to make xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) during the TEAN Orientation in Shanghai. It really takes a lot of precision when making these, and they definitely didn’t all turn out perfect, but it was very rewarding and delicious to eat what we had made.

What is your favorite travel or study abroad quote and why?
“I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list” – Susan Sontag I love this one because for me it’s not just enough to go to one country once. It’s so important to immerse and learn about people different from you. It broadens your opinions and your ways of thinking and makes you more understanding and sympathetic.

Russ Alexander

Director of Programs and Development

Russ was involved with the first group of US study abroad students to come to Australia in the late 1980s. He studied abroad as a high school student for a year in Tyler, Texas and a semester at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Russ graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, where he also became the Associate Director for Study Abroad. Russ joined the Study Australia team in 2000 and now directs the programs in Asia and is responsible for the educational design elements of our Australian/South Pacific programs. Russ is based in Chicago.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I am one of the Directors and co-owners of TEAN. Most of my main responsibilities sit in the development of our programs and the institutional relationships of our partner universities abroad.

What makes the Asia Pacific great for studying, interning and living abroad?
The diversity of the region stands out and for many Americans it still provides an option from the well-trodden study abroad pathways to Europe. This part of the world offers pretty much everything from the incredible natural beauty of New Zealand, the South Pacific and Australia through to the fascinating and welcoming cultures of Southeast Asia to the cutting edge technologies and dynamic cities of China and South Korea.

What is your favorite TEAN event?
My favorite event is our annual TEAN Fun Run that takes place at NAFSA (the largest International Education Conference in the world). The conference attracts around 10,000 attendees and is a blur of meetings, sessions and receptions. We decided 6 years ago that instead of holding another cocktail event like everyone else we would donate that money instead. We invited colleagues to show up to a 1K walk or 5K run through the city and we donate a sum to a different charity annually based on the number of participants. It’s a fun outdoorsy event that gets people out of the conference venue and does make a difference. In 5 years we have donated over $22,000 to charities as diverse as the Christchurch and Nepal Earthquake Appeals, a special Thai school for burmese refugees and an American charity that rehabilitates those affected by drug and alcohol.

What does TEAN’s core value Choose Earth mean to you?
That every single decision we make as individuals has an impact and a consequence. We have a responsibility to leave this place better than we found it. By making simple, informed decisions around our everyday actions, we can improve the lives of people we have never met by reducing global inequalities and fostering social justice and fairness, plus we can protect our planet for future generations by reducing our own environmental footprint.

How would you describe the TEAN Chicago office to someone who hasn’t been there before?
We are located in the Chicago downtown area of River North occupying an entire floor of an old red brick warehouse building. Our offices are open plan, creative spaces with our large wooden beamed ceilings a defining feature. Giant amoeba desks with plants growing from them, Thai day beds, bean bags, cycle desks and and an office dog attempt to create a relaxed, informal work space with a welcoming, youthful vibe. Communal areas like our kitchen and lounges add a family feel but mostly I hope we have a pleasant, friendly environment that fosters information sharing and efficiency through its design.

Kora Alexander

Official Office Dog

Kora joined the team in 2013. She is a graduate (and rescue) of the The Anti-Cruelty Society across the street from the Chicago office. Kora’s main responsibilities include welcoming all office visitors, afternoon naps in the sun and spreading smiles. She also occasionally attends study abroad fairs to help get the word out about TEAN programs. Her favorite part of working from the Chicago office is all the attention, treats and love her TEAN family give her.

Jay Bartletti

Regional Director

Jay Bartletti spent his undergraduate years at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied abroad for 10-weeks in Morelia, Mexico and for an academic year in Barcelona, Spain. After working for a few years, Jay embarked on a 500 day backpacking trip to South America where he traveled through nine countries, volunteered in Paraguay, interned with the Fulbright Commission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and enjoyed life. He followed his passion for study abroad and got a Masters Degree in International Education at the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington DC. Jay’s been working in the field of international education since 2007 primarily in a university relations capacity and is an expert in curriculum integration, custom program design, internships and is heavily involved with Lessons from Abroad returnee conferences across the west coast.

Molly Cain

Regional Director

Molly was a Russian major at the University of Texas at Austin.  She worked in lived in Russia and the former republics on and off from 1991-1997.  After settling back in the US she began her career in the world of study abroad by joining AIU London (now Regents University) where she worked for ten years.  In 2011, she expanded her knowledge of western Europe by joining SAI Programs.  She has extensive knowledge about design programs and worked closely with universities developing curriculum integration for their students. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her family and works on the TEAN campus relations team.

Nancy Clarke

Regional Director

Nancy has been a TEAN Regional Director based in New England since 2006. She has lived abroad in Melbourne, Australia, and London, England and has traveled extensively on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Q&A

Tell us about your role at TEAN?
I am the Regional Manager responsible for the six New England states. It is a great job as I work with many different colleges and universities. Meeting staff and students who are interested in study abroad is so fulfilling.

How did you first come to work for TEAN?
I was study abroad advisor at University of New Hampshire (UNH) working with TEAN for a number of years. They were one of my favorite providers because of the level of service they gave to staff, students and families. When they were looking for someone to work in institutional relations in New England, I knew that was the right move for me and I haven’t look back since 2006.

What do you think makes TEAN unique?
The level and delivery of service and working one student at a time. Everyone at TEAN strives to go above and beyond, which they do on an everyday basis. Every student is treated as an individual and so most customized requests can be met Also the programming is so rich both culturally and experientially rich. We exceed expectations and students love their TEAN experience.

What have been some of your favorite highlights from your travels?
I loved being a part of the three-day faculty led excursion to the Golden Triangle in Thailand. I learned so much about our academics and on-site program while getting a deeper appreciation of that cohort of students and what students would do well in Thailand. Another fond memory is my first Australia site visit with TEAN as a UNH study abroad advisor. I met such amazing people – participants and TEAN staff. I saw the academic system through another lens (not the MBA student but the study abroad advisor lens) and I knew then TEAN was the real deal. The on-site staff at each location were the most incredibly dedicated group of professionals I had ever met and many of them are still with TEAN today, 14 years later.

You’ve been to every continent except Antarctica, what destination is next on your bucket list?
Last April I went to Northern Vietnam because the TEAN Thailand students told me I would love trekking in Sapa – they were right and it was an amazing experience being high in the mountains staying in local homes. My bucket list is long and dynamic – currently high on the list are: climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking in Nepal, biking in Cambodia and Laos, riding camels in Morocco, visiting Moab and the national parks there, and having tea in London.

Hannah DeMilta

Marketing Manager

Hannah first fell in love with Australia when she studied abroad with The Education Abroad Network at Bond University on the Gold Coast. Two years later, she moved to Sydney to pursue her career in digital marketing, working with both up and coming startups to well-known clients such as Nestle and IBM. After four years she returned back to the US to join TEAN at Chicago HQ. Hannah is a graduate of Otterbein University in Ohio where she majored in Public Relations with a Deaf Culture and Language minor

Q&A

Where have you traveled in Asia Pacific?
I studied abroad with TEAN on the Gold Coast of Australia when I was a student. It was my first time out of the country and ignited my love for this part of the world. Less than two years later, I graduated and decided to move back to Australia. I spent four years living in Sydney. I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of Australia and visited New Zealand, Bali, Fiji, Japan, Hong Kong. Recently I visited our TEAN locations in Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore.

What do you work on at TEAN?
I’m part of the marketing team. I work on a range of projects including help managing our social media accounts to working with TEAN Alum who are part of our Global Ambassador program. We are relatively small team, so we wear many hats – I like the variety and it makes you prioritize what matters most to work smarter.

What are some must-dos for a first time visitor to Sydney?
Many of my Sydney tips tend to revolve around food. Line up at Messina for gelato and try one of their inventive flavor combinations. Wait for a cool day and head to Laksa Malay Chinese Takeaway on Hunter Street. Enjoy weekend brunch in Surry Hills at Devon Cafe, Rustic Pearl or Paramount Coffee Project. Get fish and chips from Fishmongers in Manly for takeaway to sit and have near the beach. Meet friends for a drink on the Rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel in The Rocks for a view of the city. Have an Aussie favorite, chicken schnitzel, at Una’s Restaurant in Darlinghurst. Treat yourself to a special dinner out at Porteno.

What advice do you have for returnees who experience reverse culture shock?
It’s a weird feeling to come home from study abroad and to feel out of place. My biggest advice is to take comfort in knowing you’re not alone, and that it’s not a permanent state. Coming home and feeling uncomfortable is a sign your outlook has changed. It’s a positive thing. For me, realizing that was a catalyst for my move back to Australia. However, I’ve seen it motivate different people in different ways, whether that’s a changed career path to just a new attitude toward the world. Don’t let reverse culture shock slow you down, embrace it and then grow from it.

If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I would study on our Semester in Shanghai program. I was recently here for a visit and love the neighbourhood that surrounds Fudan University and the TEAN off-campus apartments. Shanghai reminded me of a New York, there was so much to see and experience. I felt like it was a place I could stay for years and still not fully know it, because there would always be more to explore. I like that quality about big cities.

Shannon Diegel

Program Manager

After Shannon studied abroad while attending Loyola University Chicago, she knew her life would never be the same again. A few months following graduation she moved to Bangkok, Thailand to teach English. She thought she knew what city life was like after living in Chicago, but Bangkok found ways to surprise her every day! Upon returning home, she began working in international education, helping American high-school students travel the world and study abroad. Shannon holds a Master’s Degree in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute.

Q&A

What inspired you to teach abroad in Thailand?
As I was about to graduate from school I knew that I wanted to work in International Education. I spoke with the study abroad office at my school to ask them for advice and they encouraged me to pursue more international experience. I knew I wanted to be challenged everyday and to go someplace very different from my current environment.

What did you learn about yourself living abroad?
Everyday I experienced something new. At first, I found that by not speaking the language I struggled to make new friends, but it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was hard for me to feel like myself, but through that I learned that it is okay to feel uncomfortable. I continued to work at making my new city home and eventually, I made some really great friends, developed my own community, and was able to enjoy my new city. When I left Bangkok it was as difficult (if not more difficult then when I left Chicago). Even years later I miss my neighborhood, my friends, and the food almost on a daily basis. I was able to make a home for myself in a completely different place than where I grew up and I learned I am lot more confident than I had given myself credit for.

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the field of International Education?
I have found that there are so many people in International Education who are willing to sit down and have a talk with you and give advice. When I decided in college that I wanted to go into the field I met with the Provost of International Programs. Then when I came back from Thailand I met with some people at the University of Minnesota to ask them about their work on a daily basis and they sent me to go and meet with someone who worked at AFS-USA to gather a different perspective. Pretty much everyone that I asked to meet with me not only made the time to talk with me they also introduced me to someone else to speak with. It is from talking with people that I learned about SIT Graduate Institute and decided to apply for their Master’s program in International Education. It was a great environment to meet others who were passionate about the field of International Education and we all came from very different backgrounds which surprised me. So in general my advice is to talk to as many people as you can! While the industry can seem very small, I have found it to be a very friendly and welcoming place – so just do your research and ask someone to coffee.

What destination is next on your travel bucket list?
After working at TEAN, I want to see New Zealand next. I have learned so much about this country from working at TEAN. I am not sure if I would ever have enough courage to do the Nevis Bungee in Queenstown, but I am looking forward to the hikes, views, food, sheep, and wine tasting.

Nick Falzone

Assistant Program Manager

Nick is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After studying abroad for a year in Rome, Italy and Vienna, Austria, he was eager to continue learning about the world. He was first introduced to TEAN at a local returnee conference and has been pursuing his new found love of international education ever since. He joins the team after completing an internship with TEAN. He is grateful for the opportunity to help students experience the incredible benefits of studying abroad.

Q&A

Where have you traveled through Asia Pacific?
I have traveled to Australia multiple times on work trips with TEAN. Outside of Australia I’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit Thailand and Singapore. We have a TEAN employee travel incentive program that encourages our team to spend holiday time in the countries where we work.

What has been a favorite memory from your travels?
During a free day while traveling with one of our summer programs in Australia, I swam in the Pacific ocean with sea turtles and tiger sharks. It was the first time I had scuba dived and it was so incredibly beautiful under the water. Our new Australian Orientation Excursion in Cairns includes an introductory dive on the Great Barrier Reef, so I hope all of our students get to share in the kind of experience I had.

What is your favorite travel or study abroad quote and why?
It’s some variation on “Everything you learned while you were abroad doesn’t stay where you studied. You will always have it with you and must apply it to your life back home.” I heard it during an Lessons From Abroad conference re-entry session and it truly was a turning point in getting over my post-program reverse culture shock.

What is your advice for a student who is on the fence about studying abroad?
Get off the fence and get onto a plane! Jokes aside, my advice would be to absolutely do it, against all odds. Traveling in general, but specifically studying abroad, shakes up your world in a way that only leaving your home country can. Your entire foundation of who you think you are and what the world is like is tilted, and you’re able to rebuild it all within completely new parameters. Studying abroad is still the most productive and transformative thing I’ve done.

What one song belongs on your ‘study abroad soundtrack’ and why?
If I have to give a shout out to only one; I’ll say Ribs by Lorde (who is from Auckland, New Zealand by the way). The song is hauntingly nostalgic and contemplative around youth and hanging onto precious memories, particularly from childhood. It’s a nod towards the days of being innocent. Studying abroad is akin to that same sentiment because it is a chance to be innocent, and new again, in your adult life. The experiences you have while studying abroad are invaluable and in the shock of it ending all you want is to get them all back to relive on repeat. The lesson is that you’ll never lose them; like childhood memories, they’ll always be with you.

Kate Hilby

Program Manager

Kate studied abroad with The Education Abroad Network at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia where her passion for international education and travel was ignited. Her study abroad experience impacted her so much that upon her return stateside, she became a TEAN Student Ambassador at The University of Iowa while completing her degree in Communication Studies. After graduation, she returned to Melbourne for a year where she worked for a university on the Marketing and Student Recruitment team.

Q&A

Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
I currently work on our New Zealand programs. My role as team lead and Program Manager is to make sure everything on these programs is running smoothly working with our team. It includes everything from making sure students have pre-departure information on time to making sure they submit all of the items they need to study abroad (i.e. transcripts, courses, contracts, arrival details, payments, visa confirmations).

Where did you study abroad?
I studied with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia at Deakin University. It’s a more traditional campus, just outside the city but being able to live in the city and commute gave me the best of both worlds. Honestly, Melbourne has something for everyone – think sporting events, art, music, theatre, comedy, laneway cafes/restaurants/bars, shopping, the list goes on. Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, so why wouldn’t you choose to study there? If you’re looking for a Melbourne equivalent in New Zealand, check out Wellington known as the coolest little capital in the world. It’s a smaller city, but that makes it an easy city to get around by foot. It’s a very accessible city for study abroad students.

What brought you back to Melbourne to live and work after graduation?
When I graduated, I knew I wanted to return to Australia. My time studying abroad had given me that exposure to living abroad and I wanted to spend more time there as a professional. For my career, It was great to gain work experience at a university abroad. I’m so glad I went down this path or I might not have ended up at TEAN today!

Packing for study abroad is always a challenge and popular topic, as a frequent flyer – what insider tips do you have for someone packing for the semester?
I’ve become pretty good at packing light over the years since there have been so many times earlier on where I’ve overpacked. I took half of my closet and never touched the majority of it. You will hear the advice – pack everything you think you’ll need then take half of it – and it’s so true. My other advice is to pack articles of clothing you can mix and match to create different outfits to help reduce items. Also try to keep the shoe situation under control, they take up a lot of room. Bring a couple pairs that are super versatile (and comfortable).

If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I’m biased, but I would study on one of our New Zealand programs. Since working with our TEAN New Zealand students, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand a few times and have visited all program locations. I’ve also done some traveling in the South Island. I would love the idea of going for a full semester, joining a tramping club on campus and getting out into the beauty of New Zealand in my free time!

Kristen Jackson

Senior Program Manager

Kristen’s passion for study abroad began after her first trip overseas to Spain in high school and she has been a travel nut ever since. She is originally from Wisconsin, studied at the University of Minnesota for her undergraduate degree, and DePaul University in Chicago for graduate school. During her undergraduate years, she completed an internship in Sydney and knew she had to go back for a longer stay. She returned to Sydney to work and live for a year before moving back to Chicago. Kristen has nearly a decade experience in study abroad, and has worked on both on the provider side of the field and in the DePaul University and University of Minnesota study abroad offices. She loves to send students abroad as part of the TEAN team.

Q&A

Where have you traveled and lived in Asia Pacific?
I lived and worked in Sydney for a year. I also had an internship in Sydney in college. I have also traveled to China, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand.

Can you share some of the highlights or lessons from your time living abroad?
The biggest lesson I have learned from my time abroad is adaptability. Living in another country can really bring you out of your comfort zone and force you into situations where you have to go with the flow. I learned to embrace the differences of the different cultures I was experiencing rather than wishing I could have the same things/experiences I was used to back home in the U.S. I loved navigating my way around new places, getting lost and discovering the best places that I just stumbled upon because I was up for whatever came my way.

What are your recommendations for top places to check out in Sydney?
There are so many great suburbs that offer a little something different for everyone. I LOVE Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills, specifically their sausage rolls and lemon tart, but everything is amazing. I also recommend enjoying some of the northern beaches as they are much less crowded and gorgeous. People should also do the Manly to Spit Bridge walk as it is stunning!

As the Program Manager for Singapore, what do you think makes it an amazing place to study abroad?
Singapore is one of those hidden gems in Southeast Asia. I feel like it is a very misunderstood country as people think everything is just glass highrise buildings and everything is really expensive. There are actually some really great neighborhoods with lots of different cultures represented. Owning a car and buying an apartment are expensive, but for day to day life for a study abroad student, it’s a very affordable study abroad destination.

What is your advice for a student who is on the fence about studying abroad?
I would always tell students who were on the fence about studying abroad that they will never look back and say, I really wish I didn’t spend five months in Australia or wherever they are thinking about going. Studying abroad is such a life-changing experience and even if the first few weeks are tough, you learn so much about yourself and how well you can navigate the unknown.

Kate McSurley

Senior Program Manager

Kate first traveled abroad as a participant of The Education Abroad Network, studying in Australia at the University of Queensland. Her time overseas allowed her to examine English literature from a fresh, new angle and have a proper introduction to Australian literature. Before joining TEAN, Kate also served as a National Admissions Advisor for a fashion & interior design college as well as a technical writer for a sport technology company. Kate holds a BA in English/Communications from Saint Xavier University and earned her M.A. in English at DePaul University, both in Chicago. Since her time at UQ, she has continued her travels throughout Europe and the U.S., but she will always have a soft spot for Australia.

Katherine Nevils

Assistant Program Manager

Katherine is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. Her interest in international education was sparked during her first trip to France and Italy in 2009. After graduating from East Carolina University, she went on to pursue her M.Ed. in Student Affairs in Higher Education. During graduate school, she had the opportunity to study abroad where she researched minority student access to higher education in Paris, France. She also participated in an internship experience in Cambridge, England.

Q&A

What inspired you to pursue your master’s degree in Higher Education?
Pursuing a master’s degree was an easy decision for me. I knew I wanted to work in international education, but I wanted to have the skills and experience working with students before jumping in head first. Having the ability to study and intern abroad while in graduate school solidified my decision to get a Masters. It has opened up a lot of doors for me and I would encourage anyone interested in the field to look into it.

You work on the internships team, why would you encourage a student to pursue an internship abroad?
An internship abroad is an invaluable experience for any student looking to step out of their comfort zone and expand their professional development. Interning abroad sets you apart from other candidates when applying for jobs. It is an incredible resume builder and shows you are willing to take initiative. I had the opportunity to intern abroad and it was one of the best experiences of my professional career. I was able to see the inner workings of a company and learn from experts in my field.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of this position is hearing about the amazing experiences our students are having. I love reading articles they have written and seeing the pictures they post on Instagram (#TEANabroad).

What were you first impressions of Australia?
Australia is an amazing country. I really enjoyed Melbourne, which has been named several times as the “World’s Most Livable City.” I can definitely see why. It is an easy city to fall in love with, especially with the strong coffee, delicious chocolate, laneways, beautiful artwork, and Aussie Rules Footy everywhere!

What is your favorite travel quote and why?
One of my favorite books is a compilation of 35 short stories written by various well-known authors about their life changing travel stories. It is called An Innocent Abroad and I recommend it to everyone. There is one line from the book that has always resonated with me and is the core message of the book, “Innocence abroad expands our hearts and our minds, opens us to the splendors of serendipity, builds bridges between people and cultures, and lays paving stones on the path to global peace and understanding.”

Dan O’Brien

Regional Director

Dan’s interest in people, places, and cultures started at age 13 when his grandfather took him to Austria for a week-long stay. Since that time, Dan has traveled to more than 25 countries, and has more than 16 years experience in education abroad. Dan has a Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Management from the School for International Training. He studied for a semester at the Universidad de Sevilla as an undergraduate student and as a graduate student served as a group leader for the Experiment in International Living – Spain. Dan is passionate about the power of education abroad and the global competencies it provides students.

Q&A

What is your role? Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
I serve TEAN as Regional Director and my main duties include maintaining, developing and enhancing TEAN partnership as well as promoting TEAN study abroad and internship programs at campus events such as study abroad fairs and orientations. I have a 13 state region therefore I travel quite often in the fall, the busiest time for our team, as the majority of students study abroad in the Spring semester.

How did you come to work in the field and what path led you to your current role?
My study abroad experience was the main factor in leading me to the field. When I returned from my semester abroad I met a graduate student who was working on her practicum and capstone at my university. I applied to the School for International Training in Vermont and was accepted into the program. After the on-campus portion of my program I did my practicum and capstone at the University of North Dakota. From that experience I stayed on to serve as Study Abroad Coordinator – a perfect first professional job in Education Abroad. From there I moved to Virginia Tech for a position in Education Abroad and had several staff reporting to me. After two and a half years in that role I transitioned to a major international education organization where I served for over 9 years. Those experiences finally led me to TEAN where I now serve as Regional Director.

Where have you been in Asia Pacific and what have been some highlights?
I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea. I always enjoy meeting new people and learning about the culture(s) of the host country. With that in mind, a few highlights include visiting The Great Wall of China, hiking through the Baku National Forest in Borneo, experimental food tasting in South Korea, visiting marae in New Zealand, attending a football (rugby) match in Auckland, dining at the Sydney Sky tower, and surfing off the shores of the sunshine coast of Australia.

Why would you encourage a student to consider studying abroad in Asia Pacific?
Apart from showcasing unique cultures, food, and languages, the Asia-Pacific region boasts some of the highest quality education in the world. Many of TEAN’s partners are ranked in the top 500 worldwide and students from all majors, from accounting to zoology, can study/intern in this region of the world. Additionally, I often remind students how far away that region is from the U.S. and as a student it’s the perfect time to go. Much of Europe can be seen in just a couple of weeks while on vacation but the Asia-Pacific region is too big for just a 2 week visit. In order to get a full appreciation of what those countries have to offer a full semester or internship program is recommended.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Meeting students at events who think they are unable to participate in education abroad, whether it’s curriculum concerns or financial worries, then advising and guiding them to programs that meet their academic, professional, and financial needs. I also enjoy working with institutional partners to develop strategic programming for their institution.

Michael Perez

Accountant

Michael joined TEAN as a full time accountant after a summer internship in the TEAN Chicago office. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Finance from DePaul University. He was exposed to international travel at a very young age when he and his family frequently traveled to Latin America. He developed a passion for it and now hopes to expand those horizons and travel around the world.

Chris Shepherd

Director and Co-Founder

Chris has been the Director for the U.S. operations since 1995 and co-founded The Education Abroad Network. He has lived abroad in Australia three times and has traveled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a member of NAFSA and The Forum on Education Abroad.

Q&A

How did TEAN get its start?
Sean Lennon and I started the organization in 1995 as we felt many of the current study abroad programs were too rigid and did not cater to the needs of individual students. At the time we were both working for an Australian university so we met lots of students that substantiated that view which provided us the impetus to move forward. We really wanted to help each and every student maximize their time abroad. You can read more about our story here.

What do you consider some of the major milestones for the company over the last 20+ years?
We do not get too caught up in numbers, but reaching our 20th anniversary in 2015 was special. The 20 year milestone itself was great, but the 20 for 20 Scholarship Campaign we hosted around the celebration made it even better. Our partners supported us with more than $150,000 in special scholarship funds to award in honor of the anniversary and we also awarded our first full ride scholarship from TEAN.

What do you think has helped make TEAN successful as it’s grown?
We have been successful as we have maintained our personalized approach to each applicant. That is a key focus of our training program and we also ensure all staff have relevant experience in the countries where we offer programs. It is fine to be customer service oriented, but you also need the knowledge to really make a difference as a program advisor. Our staff are also able to become “experts” as we solely focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Last year your family had a “study abroad” experience, can you tell us more about that?
We were able to live in Sydney, Australia and do some fun family travel throughout the region. The absolute highlight was my four daughters were able to attend a public school together. It was wonderful for them to have their own study abroad experience and for my wife and I to see firsthand how that experience had such a positive impact on them. Professionally it was very rewarding to work more closely with our on-site staff and expand my own knowledge of our programs, partners and locations.

Why was it important for TEAN to adopt a new company core value of Choose Earth?
For the majority of Americans who can study abroad (and our own staff) they are among the most fortunate people on the planet. While our society has so many positive attributes we are also a very wasteful and entitled society. We feel study abroad is a good opportunity to introduce or reinforce a sustainable lifestyle as students can sometimes be more open to learning and growing as individuals while they are abroad. This is not necessarily easy as we are competing for our student’s attention on many levels, but we are up for the challenge!

Julie Tuman

Internship & Special Projects Coordinator

Julie was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her commitment to international education first started while on a summer abroad program in Germany through Appalachian State University. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree in Chinese history, Julie spent two years in northeastern China, teaching English and learning Chinese. Since then, she has received a masters in Chinese from UMass Amherst, during which time she lived in Taiwan for a year, and worked in international education for nearly a decade.

Brynne Shannon

Assistant Program Manager

Brynne’s first experience overseas was when she studied abroad with TEAN in Thailand. Captivated by experiencing a different way of life, she decided to go back and spend the year after graduation teaching English in a rural Northern Thai town. After the experience of a lifetime, she became hooked on the love of travel and international education and landed her dream job working for TEAN HQ in Chicago.

Q&A

Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with TEAN. I wanted to go as far away as I could and experience something totally different than what I had grown up with. I had always been drawn to Asia, and after some research I decided that Thailand was the perfect place for me. I also lived in Lampang, Thailand upon graduating and I’ve traveled to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.

What inspired you to teach abroad?
I came back from my semester abroad feeling like my time in Thailand wasn’t finished. I knew I wanted to go back to Thailand after I graduated and the more I spoke to people who had taught English abroad the more I knew it was a good fit for me. I wanted to challenge myself and have an even more culturally immersive experience the second go around, and I also wanted to give something back to a country I fell in love with while studying abroad since it had given so much to me.

What makes Thailand a great place to study abroad?
Thailand is great because it forces students to step out of their comfort zone and learn more about the world and themselves as individuals. Not only are you experiencing a new culture, but you’re learning a new language, alphabet, cuisine, social norms, interactions, ways of life, etc. It seriously puts things into perspective. Thai people are some of the kindest and welcoming people you will ever meet – hands down. They make the experience so special and you can learn so much from them. Living in Thailand teaches you to slow down and enjoy what’s happening in the now and be thankful for what you have and who’s around you.

What should be on every student’s bucket list for a study abroad semester in Thailand?
A hike up to Wat Palad. This temple is on the way to the more famous Wat Doi Suthep, which sits on top of a mountain, but Wat Palad is tucked away in the forest surrounded by trees and a rushing waterfall during the rainy season. Students can hike up to the temple from their housing or hire a songteow to take them up the mountain. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of how quiet and serene it is. To me, it captures the essence of what Buddhism is all about. You can sit on the rocks and dip your toes in the waterfall while looking out at the spectacular view of the city that peeks out between the trees.

What is your favorite travel quote?
It’s not necessarily a travel quote, but one of my favorite Thai expressions I learned was “mai long, mai rue” which means “If you never try, you never know”. It inspired me to just say yes to everything and go for things even if I didn’t know what the outcome would be.

Jessie Shen

Accountant

Jessie joined TEAN after graduating from the University of Illinois Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. While in University she spent a summer studying in Italy, focusing on the study of art and architecture during the Renaissance. Her first international experience was during childhood, spending her summers in Taiwan visiting her family. She is excited to be a part of TEAN and continues to pursue international experiences.

Caroline Tell

Program Manager

While studying English at DePauw University, Caroline spent a semester abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia and was forever changed. Her passion for international education started by teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam. While abroad, Caroline had the opportunity to travel throughout Southeast Asia and even made it back to Australia. During her time with TEAN, she has worked both from the Chicago office and spent time living and working in Sydney as the local Resident Director.

Q&A

Tell us a little about your role at TEAN?
As a Program Manager, I work with students from the time they apply until the day they depart on their journeys abroad. Generally speaking I’m responsible for guiding students through the application process. This includes helping students choose their courses abroad, book their flights, apply for a visa, secure housing, and make arrangements for orientation to name a few steps.

What advice do you have for a student who wants study in Australia, but is unsure what school or city within Australia would be the best fit?
First, I would think about what your priorities are for your semester abroad. Do you want to be in a big city or small city? How important is it for you to be near the beach? Are your course requirements flexible or do you absolutely need to take certain classes? Once you’ve spent some time thinking about what matters most to you, I would recommend getting in touch with the TEAN office so you can speak with one of our Program Managers for Team Australia. Our team has extensive knowledge of these locations and the different nuances of Australian universities. They can best direct you to the right option for your academic, social, and cultural preferences.

What should be on every student’s bucket list while studying abroad in Sydney?
Oh man, this is tough because Sydney truly has something for everyone. However on my top three list I would say, take a surf lesson at Bondi Beach, walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge for the amazing views and finally have a triple scoop of gelato from Messina because it’s my favorite treat in Sydney (plus it’s low calorie… not).

From your time living in Australia, what have been some travel highlights for you?
Some of my most memorable travels in Australia were in the Outback. As a recent college grad, I participated in a small tour group that drove from Adelaide to Alice Springs where we got to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta. During this week-long excursion we slept under the stars and hiked through incredible landscapes. I’ve never been somewhere so remote in my life.

Where do you seek inspiration?
I LOVE to read, particularly travel writing, so I would probably say books are my main source of inspiration. I also love to clear my head with exercise and meditation.

Emma Van Loon

Programs Intern

Emma had her first international experience at the age of 11 when she traveled to the Netherlands to visit her Oma, since then she has had the travel bug. Originally from Massachusetts she completed her Bachelors of Science at the University of Rhode Island. She studied abroad with TEAN at The University of Newcastle. After returning from Australia, Emma realized her passion for international education and became a TEAN Global Ambassador. Her travels have taken her to the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Bahamas, Australia, Dominican Republic and Iceland.

John Yocum

Manager of Enrollment

John studied Public Relations during his undergrad and Business Administration for his masters. Although he never studied abroad he has a passion for travel and different cultures. Prior to TEAN, John held roles in business development and education advisement.

Q&A

What journey have you taken to arrive at your current role and working for TEAN?
An indirect one! It took me a while to find a field that interested me. Ultimately it was my passion for travel, restless nature, and a bit of luck that lead me to TEAN. After several years leading our Internship Programs, earning my Masters in Business Administration, learning our company’s processes and coming to know the team that I took on the role of Manager of Enrollment.

You work closely with the program team from our Chicago office, what makes this team unique?
The specialized knowledge base. I came from a different industry so was not aware that there were people who valued international education and travel so highly. All of the people that I work with are very well traveled, passionate, motivated, and most importantly, experts in the regions in which they manage programs.

For those who haven’t been to the TEAN Chicago office before, how would you describe the environment and setup?
This is the most difficult question, because you really just need to visit in-person to get a good feel for it. I would describe it as “An ideal place for international education enthusiasts to; collaborate, have fun, work hard, cook great lunches, relax in beanbags, participate in meetings on exercise work bikes, play tug of war with the office dog, and change lives.”

Why would you encourage a student to pursue an internship abroad?
An internship was once a point of differentiation. Nowadays, it has become an expectation. An international internship will truly stand out, especially if properly reflected upon so you can convey your experience to future employers. Equally important is an expanded network, personal and professional growth. An internship abroad will give you a greater sense of what it means to be a global citizen.

What have been some highlights or favorite moments from your travels?
Number one highlight is my first international flight, which happened to be 29 hours of travel to Perth, Australia (believe it or not). It got old about half way through but the anticipation and excitement was very memorable.

Jessica Yu

Accountant

Jessica was born and raised in Nanjing, one of the four great ancient cultural capitals of China. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Economics in 2008. After two years working at GE Global Training & Development Center in Shanghai, she moved to the US to pursue her Master’s Degree in Accountancy at DePaul University in Chicago. As a student, she completed an internship with TEAN and worked for DePaul University Writing Center on the Conversation & Culture team. After graduation, she joined us full time on the accounting team. She is excited to continue to explore different cultures with TEAN.

Overseas Staff

Helen Armitage

Resident Director - Queensland

Helen has been working in the field of International Education for more than 20 years. During her undergraduate degree at Griffith University, she started working in their international office on a part time basis. This became full time after she graduated with a Bachelors in Communications in 1998. Helen worked with study abroad; exchange; full degree and ELICOS students during this time.  Following her role at Griffith she lived in London, England for several years. After returning back to Australia she then worked in the International and Study Abroad teams at Bond University and was responsible for marketing and developing the study abroad and full degree programs in North America and Europe.  This role saw Helen travel extensively throughout these regions for many years. Helen has been the TEAN Queensland Resident Director since 2010 and is also the Program Manager for Full Degree applicants in Australia and New Zealand.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I am the Resident Director for Queensland and responsible for working with our in-country study abroad students in our schools across this state. My role is to ensure that all students are supported and mentored and experience cultural events relevant to their location. I am the study abroad “mom” to all of my groups and try to ensure they stay focused on their schooling and experience all that their location has to offer. I like to get them to see the value of their study abroad semester and how it will benefit them in the future. I am also the Full Degree Program Manager for TEAN. In this role I work with students who are interested in taking their entire degree program in Australia or New Zealand.

How did you come to this current role?
I have been working in International Education since 1995. I have been involved in the study abroad and international offices at both Griffith University and Bond University on the Gold Coast. While at Bond University I managed the study abroad program for North America and was responsible for building partnerships with programs and U.S. schools. I have travelled extensively through North America and have visited many of our partner schools. I started working with TEAN as the Queensland Resident Director in 2010.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Seeing students grow and become more independent during their semester. Watching students learn to problem solve issues and gain confidence to make decisions on their own. I enjoy getting to know the groups and each group are varied and unique. I like seeing them develop lifelong friendships amongst the groups and enjoy watching them have fun at the various cultural events I arrange. I have met some amazing students over the years, who I am still in touch with today.

How do you work with students who are interested in pursuing their full degree abroad?
I am their go to person from start to finish. I help them narrow down their university choices, submit applications and answer any questions they may have through the process.When offers come in, I then assist them to accept the best option for them and talk them through next steps. This includes who to contact about U.S loans and aid, how to apply for their visa and enrolment. Being in the same time zone as the schools here and it makes it easy for me to follow up. I also have lots of contacts that i can reach out to directly, so it saves them time and stress.

What are some top reasons a student should consider a full degree in Australia or New Zealand?
You will be pursuing a quality education at some of the world’s top ranked universities while enjoying a personalized education. Australia and New Zealand are desirable places to live and attract high quality professors from all over the world. You will also graduate with a competitive advantage – most people don’t study overseas and having an international qualification and living in another country puts you ahead of your peers who stay in the U.S. You will also have gained a new network of international contacts.

Emma Black

Resident Assistant - Gold Coast

Emma has a passion for travel and spent three years backpacking all over the globe – including the UK, Europe and the US. Emma returned home to Australia to study at Griffith University, Gold Coast. After graduating with a Bachelor in Communications, she gained valuable experience in marketing, copywriting and public relations. Born and bred on the Gold Coast, Emma enjoys the beach and its relaxed lifestyle – and she likes sharing her love for the “Goldie” with all her students.

Scott Blair

Director - Assessment & Sustainability

Based in Paris, Scott has worked in education abroad for over 30 years—as university professor, on-site Academic Director, and Director of Assessment for US study abroad providers. Today, he advocates for assessing student learning outcomes in terms of climate sustainability, biodiversity and human rights. A two-year study abroad student in Luxembourg and Paris in the 1970s, Scott later served on the faculties of the University of New Haven, Sciences Po and LanguesO in Paris. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University, a Master of Arts from Georgetown University, and a Doctorate in History from the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne. Scott presents and publishes regularly on learning outcomes assessment and sustainable program design in education abroad.

Alice Cooksey

Internship Program Manager

Alice started her career in student services and the legal industry in the UK before embarking on a career in student services in Australia. She studied law and graduated from the University of Exeter in England in 2014. Her interest to work in the industry began with her thorough involvement in the organisation of LAMDA throughout her time in the UK. Alice also has experience teaching in both the UK and America and loves anything arts related. Alice loves to travel and has covered the majority of Europe, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As a result of her travel experiences, Alice is a lover of languages and speaks English, Welsh and German.  She enjoys sharing her experiences and offering insight into the hidden gems of Australia in order for our students to get the best out of their study abroad and internship experiences.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I manage our internship programs in Australia and New Zealand. I work as part of an incredible team and love to find each student the perfect internship opportunity to further their careers.

What are some of the top reasons why students should consider an internship abroad?
Personally, I interned abroad many years ago and my initial reasons for considering an internship were to broaden my experiences as well as gain exposure to a different culture. Along with developing a new skillset, getting introduced to the professional working world and personal growth, you also get to travel! I couldn’t agree more with the saying that travel is one of the only things you can buy that makes you richer. Following an internship abroad, you truly come back from your host country having had the most incredible experience as well as skills for your future career.

What advice can you give for interns to make the most of their time abroad?
I recommend for each intern to make the most of every opportunity that they are given. Time is a valuable thing, don’t waste it! There are so many different experiences and people that they can learn from in Australia, and it’s a great way to be exposed to different ideas, cultural influences and attitudes. The students that excel at their internships are real go getters and make sure that they are always willing to put their hands up for additional tasks. Showing willingness and dedication can lead to some really exciting opportunities and experiences.

What helps set up a student for a successful experience abroad?
A positive attitude and an enthusiasm for the work are the most important tools for success for an internship. Doing what is asked of you and showing an interest in the work will result in being rewarded with an overall positive experience. Initially tasks may seem minor to some students until they realize the overall requisites of each task or how the fit into the bigger picture for the company, but by doing them to the best of their ability and with a positive attitude, an intern will surely find themselves with more meaningful tasks down the line.

What are some of your favorite hidden gems in Sydney?
I love strolling from Chowder Bay to Taronga Zoo. This walk leads you along the coastline and goes past Bradley’s Head Amphitheatre where you can see a skyline view of Sydney’s buildings as well as the harbor. It’s best to do this walk in the afternoon and time it so that you get to the amphitheatre around dusk to see the sunset.

Ericka Davis

Resident Assistant - Brisbane

Ericka is currently studying at the University of Queensland pursuing a master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Innovation/Entrepreneurship. She is originally from Houston, Texas and received her bachelors in International Business from The University of Texas in San Antonio. She has a passion for traveling and experiencing different cultures throughout the world.

 

Sam Davis

Resident Assistant - Auckland

Sam had his experience with study abroad by spending a semester in Aarhus, Denmark in 2012. Upon his return to Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Sam started volunteering with the International Centre, promoting the benefits of exchanges and giving advice to outbound students. After graduating in December 2013 with a degree in Communications, Sam worked for several Communication agencies in Auckland. Sam now works at the AUT International Centre as International Programmes Coordinator, as well as working with TEAN as the Auckland Resident Assistant.

Megan Dethlefs

Resident Director - Cambodia

Megan finished college in 2006 and headed straight to the Burmese border to work with illegal migrant workers and refugees. In 2008 she returned to SE Asia to teach XO laptops to children in rural Cambodia. Megan has since moved to Phnom Penh, using her design skills to communicate the amazing work of small organizations to the outside world. Passionate about Cambodia, working with TEAN allows Megan to help students see the wonderful side of SE Asia that is often hidden from tourists.

Bianca De Villiers

Resident Assistant - Townsville

Bianca recently finished her Masters in Science (Marine Biology) at James Cook University. She moved from London to study in Australia. She is originally from Cape Town, South Africa but moved to the UK to complete a Bachelors in Biology at the University of Sussex. Bianca has travelled to more than 30 countries and has previous experience working with many different cultural backgrounds in a variety of roles.

Sandra Durinick

Resident Director - Seoul

Sandra, a native of San Francisco, has always had a passion for travel. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she decided to pursue that passion and moved to South Korea. In 2015, she spent time traveling the world and lived briefly in South Africa before continuing her studies at Seoul National University. She is currently still residing in Seoul and loves showing off the place she has decided to call home.

Medusa Fang

Resident Director - Shanghai

Medusa is a native of Shanghai with over thirteen years of experience in international education. Having obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Language from Fudan University and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Hong Kong, her academic background in international cultural exchange has provided a foundation for a career spend working with top-level universities and organizations from around the world. Prior to joining The Education Abroad Network, Medusa complimented her work with international students by teaching university coursework in English and Chinese Culture and Folklore.

Q&A

How did you come to work in International Education?
Right after my graduation from Fudan University, I started to work in international education at Fudan. I have been working on admission of international students for 13 years. My work at Fudan University was to provide general services to international students. Now I work with TEAN students and help them with everything in-country. I arrange cultural activities to help students get in touch with local people and engage them into local culture.

What about Chinese culture and life in Shanghai most surprises students when they arrive?
I think it is the food here. Near Fudan University, there are so many restaurants and street food that are so tasty and so cheap. I think Chinese people are really creative in making food. Just prepare your stomach, you will love it.

What is your favorite dish in Shanghai that you would encourage every student to try?
My favourite dish is sweet and sour boneless yellow fish. I have loved it ever since childhood. We will have it together during our orientation in the most famous Shanghai restaurant, Lv Bo Lang.

What are some of the not-to-be-missed bucket list items every study abroad student should check off their list during their semester abroad?
I would say trying to speak the local language and holding conversations with locals, eating all the types of food, making as many friends as possible, going to another city without the assistance of anyone and trying to make your way around.

What are some of your favorite Shanghai secret spots that you love but maybe are a bit off the beaten track?
Bus 49 goes through the most beautiful part of Shanghai. It connects the east Bund area with the west French concession area. The cost is only RMB 2 for a single trip. On the way, you can see most beautiful streets and architecture in Shanghai. Try to take the bus in different seasons to see great views.

Rachel Fenton

Resident Director - New Zealand

Rachel has an extensive background in international education student services, marketing and university relations. She spent several years living and working abroad first in Japan on the JET program, then in London, England and Guangzhou, China. On return to New Zealand, Rachel managed the study abroad and student exchange programs at Massey University; her alma mater where she was awarded degrees in Business Administration and Marketing. She is now working at the University of Auckland, as well as representing TEAN as the New Zealand Resident Director.

Michelle Florance

Director - South Pacific

Michelle has more than 25 years experience in International Education. Michelle started working for The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Study Abroad office part time whilst she was a student completing her Bachelor of Science. After graduating Michelle then accepted a full time role which led to her love of international education.  Over the past 25 years Michelle has worked at UNSW with Study Abroad, Exchange programs and full degree students and has been involved in various leadership roles during this time. As part of the Senior Management Team for the International Centre Michelle provided strategic advice to developing pathways to international education programs and developed key relationships within the international education community. Michelle oversaw the management of the Study Abroad & Exchange program and was most recently Deputy Director: Global Education and Recruitment prior to her current role with TEAN.

Dianne Fountaine-Cody

Resident Assistant - Palmerston North

Dianne first travelled to Japan on a student exchange in her twenties and was lucky enough to continue working at Massey University in various roles including the International Office for over fifteen years.  Dianne has travelled to more than sixty countries and has vast experience working with people from different cultural backgrounds in paid and volunteer roles.  Dianne and her family have hosted international students in their own home, some for short courses of several weeks to longer periods beyond a year from all over the world.  Dianne now works part-time from home, is a busy mum of a 4 & 8 year old and enjoys working with TEAN students.

Lauren Gabell

Marketing Director

Originally from Australia, Lauren’s passion for international education was ignited after studying abroad at Boston College . Lauren has worked for the study abroad offices at both Monash University and Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia. At Deakin University she was responsible for developing the study abroad program, and marketing the university in Europe, North America and Thailand. Lauren joined TEAN in 2004 as the Resident Director in Melbourne. Lauren is now based out of Chiang Mai, Thailand, and in addition to marketing responsibilities is also involved with TEAN’s in-country programs.

Q&A

What is your role? Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
My role at TEAN is a mix of marketing and in-country responsibilities since I am based in the Asia Pacific region. I oversee and help implement TEAN’s marketing strategy – everything from social media to print brochures – and since I am currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I oversee our Thailand program welcoming students while they’re here. I also help with our programs in other countries in the region as needed.

Tell us about your experience traveling and living in Asia Pacific?
I was born and raised in Australia, studied abroad in the U.S. and now live in Thailand. I have spent time working and travelling in New Zealand, China and throughout Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore. Australia is an easygoing country to live where people work hard, but also play hard, with an active outdoorsy lifestyle year round. The natural beauty of New Zealand astounds me with every visit. But it’s the beautiful culture of northern Thailand that has kept me in Chiang Mai since 2012.

What has been some of the highlights to date during your time living in Chiang Mai?
Being a naturally inquisitive person with a career in international education, I developed a restlessness to live somewhere with a culture that was different to my own. Northern Thai culture is completely different. Even after living here for a number of years, I experience or see something that challenges me and/or satiates my sense of curiosity every day. I feel I have learned more life lessons in my few years in Chiang Mai than I did in my previous 30-something years in Australia and am grateful to live in a place that continues to inspire and challenge me – instead of being stuck in a predictable routine – every day is still an adventure!

What should every student not leave Chiang Mai without doing?
Most people will work through a bucket list of experiences that goes with exploring a new place (and you can find some of these in my 10 Free Things to Do in Chiang Mai blog post). But the best experiences that everyone looks back on are rarely the items you’ve checked off your list. It’s the everyday interactions with your favorite fruit smoothie vendor and the surprising conversations you have with your new Thai friends, when you realize that fundamentally we are much more similar than we are different, that will stand out in your memory.

What resources are available at TEAN to students who are unsure of where they want to study abroad?
TEAN staff have a lot of experience living throughout Asia Pacific and will take the time to answer your questions. We all want students to make decisions they are comfortable and satisfied with so you won’t find anyone at TEAN giving you a hard sell. We want happy students on our programs who made the right decision for them! In addition to staff, TEAN’s Global Ambassadors are TEAN alumni willing to answer your questions. You can also get a very visual idea of the experience abroad by looking at TEAN’s Instagram account featuring student photos from all our locations.

Rob Gaetano

Resident Director - Melbourne

Robert has been working with international students at Monash University on and off since 2001. Apart from a two-year stint in London, Robert has lived in Melbourne his whole life and loves everything Melbourne has to offer. Robert is very passionate about travel and having been to every continent (except Antarctica), he encourages everyone he meets to spend some time abroad! In his other life, Robert is an actor who graduated from the National Theatre Drama School in 2011.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I’m the go to guy for Melbourne! My role involves looking after all the students who come through Melbourne, be that for semester programs, internships or our short terms programs. I arrange all their logistics but also help them engage in Melbourne culture by taking them to various events during their time here and making sure they sample plenty of Melbourne’s coffee!

What do you think makes Melbourne a great city for students to study abroad?
I think that no matter what you’re into, you can find it in Melbourne. It caters for the sports mad, the music lovers, the art aficionados, the film geeks, the theatre nerds, the foodies, the adventurous nature lovers, and of course those obsessed with coffee. People ask me where they can get the best coffee in Melbourne and I honestly cannot tell them. 99% of the cafes you go to will serve you a delicious brew – we’re spoilt for choice.

What should be on your bucket list for a study abroad semester in Melbourne?
Go to the footy! Aussie Rules Football is unlikely anything you will ever see. It’s such a fast paced, dynamic, high scoring game and if you go to a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the MCG) you will have a great time. I’d also recommend going to a music festival, going to see some theatre (we have so much of it in Melbourne) and visiting Lygon Street, Melbourne’s Little Italy for some hearty Italian food.

What’s your favorite venue in Melbourne?
Ponyfish Island. It’s a cool little bar that sits in the middle of the Yarra River underneath a bridge. So cool, and so very Melbourne

What local tips would you give to someone who visiting Melbourne for the first time?
Explore off the grid. Melbourne is a well planned city, the centre is a giant grid so you can’t get lost. But the downside to this as a tourist or someone new to the city, is that you may not veer off the grid – and that’s where Melbourne comes alive. Melbourne’s laneways and alleys have some of the best cafes, bars and boutique stores that you would never discover if you stayed on the grid. Like I always tell TEAN students, “If it’s not up a staircase or down a laneway, it’s not worth going to.”

Rebecca Gillingham

Resident Assistant - Gold Coast

Rebecca was born in the Philippines and raised in Australia. She caught the travel bug early on, and has since made travelling internationally a priority for every year. Most recently, she travelled to the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and volunteered in a small primary school. Rebecca studied abroad at Clemson University, South Carolina, and fell in love with the southern hospitality extended to her during her stay. She has graduated from Bond University with a Business degree in Marketing, and is in the midst of completing her second degree in Finance. Her next travel goal is to Barcelona in August for “La Tomatina” the Spanish Tomato Festival.

Louis Helanberg

Resident Assistant - Shanghai

Louis is a graduate of Fudan University, originally from Inner Mongolia. Shanghai has offered him great opportunities to meet students from different backgrounds and ideologies. Serving as a mentor to TEAN students, he has utilised his vast experiences to help them thrive in this dynamic city. As an undergrad, Louis lived in Berlin and studied German contemporary history while mastering his Germanic language skills. In 2015, Louis represented KAISER AG during China’s most celebrated industrial exhibition, known as China’s IFAT and successfully introduced the company into the Chinese market. In addition, he undertook an internship at Hoffmann-la Roche, which is known as Europe’s largest pharmaceutical research and prescript medication firm.

Zoe Kazurinsky

Resident Assistant - Wellington

Zoe got her first taste studying abroad by spending her junior year of high school in Sydney.  She was also an exchange student in Heilbronn, Germany.  Then she boomeranged back down under with TEAN in 2009 while spending a semester abroad at Bond University.  A graduate of Western Michigan University and Chicago native, she has traded one Windy City for another one and currently resides in Wellington, New Zealand (Windy Welly) where she manages the student exchange team at Victoria University of Wellington.  She joins us as a Resident Assistant sharing her experiences studying abroad and adjusting to life in new cities.

Sean Lennon

Director and Co-Founder

Sean is Managing Director and Co-founder of The Education Abroad Network. Sean has resided in Perth, Australia since 1993. Upon arriving in Australia, Sean worked with international students attending the University of Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle. Other previous experience includes senior roles within the human resources consulting industry in both Australia and the USA. He earned a BA and MSA from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), and is member of NAFSA, The Forum on Education Abroad and AMCHAM Australia and China.

Pongsdhorn (Kai) Lertsukon

Resident Director - Thailand

Kai was born in northern Thailand in 1958 and attended school in Chiang Mai before joining the Thai military in 1974. His military career was a highly decorated one and lasted almost 20 years. After leaving the military he returned to Chiang Mai University where he completed his BA majoring in Marketing. Kai had a strong desire to meet people from all over the world so he also undertook Thai Tourism training and became a licensed tourist guide. He started his own company in 1999 and has focused on small highly educational experiences for visitors to Northern Thailand since then. Kai has designed and led many cultural and academic excursions for students from Australian and US universities over the past 15 years and brings an incredible knowledge of his region and Thai customs and a true cross-cultural understanding to his role as Resident Director for Thailand. He lives in Chiang Mai with his family, and his daughter just became the youngest concert violinist for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

On Lee Lau

Resident Assistant - Dunedin

On Lee grew up in San Francisco and found her passion for botany and conservation by exploring the Redwood forests in nearby parks. Traveling and studying abroad became an important part of her education as she began traveling extensively throughout the West Coast, which included a summer working in Alaska, and studied abroad in Costa Rica during her time at Reed College in Oregon. She also spent a field season in central Brazil meeting the locals and measuring tropical trees for her Masters research at North Carolina State University. She coordinated an internship program connecting college students with summer opportunities in the US National Parks before moving to New Zealand in 2013. She loves sharing and facilitating adventures in and around Dunedin with TEAN students.

Tom Lyons

Resident Assistant - Gold Coast

Tom comes from a small rural town in central Victoria, Australia called Castlemaine. Since leaving Castlemaine to chase ambitious dreams he has spent his time between Melbourne, Hong Kong and the Gold Coast. Tom’s work background is in sales and marketing primarily in the Property Sector and has worked with some of Australia’s largest community developers. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from Swinburne University in Melbourne, and is currently studying a Master of Construction Practice / Project Management at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Alice Milne

Resident Assistant - Christchurch

Alice, a native Kiwi, had her first exchange experience during high school when she spent a year living abroad in the north of France. Since then she has participated in two additional student exchanges in New Caledonia and in Paris, during her undergraduate degree at the University of Otago. In 2012, Alice was a ‘Kiwi Host’ in the University of Otago’s international student accommodation program, making sure international students made smooth transitions from their home universities to life at Otago. Alice is now working on her Masters degree at the University of Canterbury and is looking forward to showing Christchurch and the South Island to TEAN students.

Nooy Ornchuda

Resident Assistant - Thailand

Nooy (pronounced ‘Nui’) has worked in Thailand’s tourism industry for over 30 years. Originally based in Bangkok, Nooy moved to Chiang Mai almost 20 years ago. A graduate of Chiang Mai University’s Master of Arts in Tourism Industry Management, Nooy enjoys getting to know the students and providing an insight into Thai life and culture. Nooy loves the markets of Chiang Mai and considers herself an expert shopper. You definitely want to go shopping with Nooy when you’re in Chiang Mai.

Bryan Park

Resident Director - Seoul

Bryan is a native of Seoul and his family has lived in Sydney, Australia since 2000. After graduation from Teacher’s college, Chung-Ang university in Seoul, he served as an English teacher for 10 years. He has worked and traveled in most of middle and south east Asian countries. He enjoys using his experience and wisdom to support international students and help them settle in Seoul.

Ba Tan Pham

Resident Director - Vietnam

Tan studied English at Haiphong University in the north of Vietnam and is also a graduate of Saigon Travel-Tourism Training School in Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam. He has been working in the travel and tourism industry in Vietnam for the past 6 years. In his free time, Tan enjoys reading, working out, traveling in SE Asia, and sipping on a nice latte at the many wonderful cafes in Saigon. Although a native of the north, Tan loves living in the south of Vietnam and is passionate about helping foreigners discover his beautiful country, The Timeless Charm of Asia.

Jenn Read

Resident Director - NSW

Jenn, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, fell in love with study abroad in 2012 when she completed a teaching internship at Sydney’s oldest primary school. After returning home, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and International Studies and aimed to gain diverse teaching experiences since she felt teaching shouldn’t be limited to a classroom setting. She has worked has an educator in a variety of different educational programs with students of all ages at museums, career camps, and zoos and now loves to share her love for Australia and it’s amazing culture with TEAN students. Jenn was previously the Resident Assistant for TEAN in Brisbane now is based in Sydney as the local Resident Director.

Matt Sirois

Resident Assistant - Sydney

Matty has had a love for travel since a young age. He grew up in both Germany and the U.S. and was able to visit most of Europe, North America, and the Caribbean during his childhood. He studied with TEAN at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. After returning from abroad, he interned with TEAN at the Chicago office, and was a campus ambassador at the University of Rhode Island. After completing his two degrees in Media and Communications, he moved to Sydney where he works as a Marketing Coordinator while helping TEAN students learn more about the amazing experiences you can have in Sydney. 

Julie Stanczak

Resident Director - Singapore

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Julie also lived in San Francisco and Chicago before moving to Singapore.  She is a graduate of Purdue University and worked in Real Estate and Marketing before moving overseas.  Mom to three children five and under, she has learned to navigate the tropical island with a small brood tagging along.  Having gone through the adjustments to living abroad herself, she is eager to assist students through the same process and share her love of this ethnic melting pot with fellow Americans.

Ashley Stewart

Resident Assistant - Dunedin

Born in Nelson but raised in Dunedin, Ashley can always be found nearby the Theatre, either performing or directing. After becoming very involved with the International Student Department at High School, he continued his study at the University of Otago where he also delved into the areas of video game design, tutoring, teaching, sword fighting and of course, more theatre. He has also worked as an educator, teaching all ages both through work at the Museum and other Education Programmes. Experienced at surviving the harsh Dunedin winters, Ashley is always ready to share knowledge of Dunedin city-life and culture.

Eerik Tan

Resident Assistant - Singapore

Eerik is born and raised in Singapore and loves sharing his knowledge of the “little red dot” with others. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate and Facilities Management at Heriot watt Edinburgh. Eerik is currently a realtor with Orangetee in Singapore and has vast experience in helping expats from all over find suitable places to live. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and the values of the multi cultural Singapore with students. In his free time Eerik loves to paint and takes muay thai to keep fit.

Jessica Zhuang

Resident Assistant - Townsville

Jessica is currently studying her Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University. She is originally from Melbourne and moved to Townsville to study. She went on exchange to Montauban, France during high school and has previously lived on campus residence at James Cook University.

Directors

Russ Alexander

Director of Programs and Development

Russ was involved with the first group of US study abroad students to come to Australia in the late 1980s. He studied abroad as a high school student for a year in Tyler, Texas and a semester at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Russ graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, where he also became the Associate Director for Study Abroad. Russ joined the Study Australia team in 2000 and now directs the programs in Asia and is responsible for the educational design elements of our Australian/South Pacific programs. Russ is based in Chicago.

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I am one of the Directors and co-owners of TEAN. Most of my main responsibilities sit in the development of our programs and the institutional relationships of our partner universities abroad.

What makes the Asia Pacific great for studying, interning and living abroad?
The diversity of the region stands out and for many Americans it still provides an option from the well-trodden study abroad pathways to Europe. This part of the world offers pretty much everything from the incredible natural beauty of New Zealand, the South Pacific and Australia through to the fascinating and welcoming cultures of Southeast Asia to the cutting edge technologies and dynamic cities of China and South Korea.

What is your favorite TEAN event?
My favorite event is our annual TEAN Fun Run that takes place at NAFSA (the largest International Education Conference in the world). The conference attracts around 10,000 attendees and is a blur of meetings, sessions and receptions. We decided 6 years ago that instead of holding another cocktail event like everyone else we would donate that money instead. We invited colleagues to show up to a 1K walk or 5K run through the city and we donate a sum to a different charity annually based on the number of participants. It’s a fun outdoorsy event that gets people out of the conference venue and does make a difference. In 5 years we have donated over $22,000 to charities as diverse as the Christchurch and Nepal Earthquake Appeals, a special Thai school for burmese refugees and an American charity that rehabilitates those affected by drug and alcohol.

What does TEAN’s core value Choose Earth mean to you?
That every single decision we make as individuals has an impact and a consequence. We have a responsibility to leave this place better than we found it. By making simple, informed decisions around our everyday actions, we can improve the lives of people we have never met by reducing global inequalities and fostering social justice and fairness, plus we can protect our planet for future generations by reducing our own environmental footprint.

How would you describe the TEAN Chicago office to someone who hasn’t been there before?
We are located in the Chicago downtown area of River North occupying an entire floor of an old red brick warehouse building. Our offices are open plan, creative spaces with our large wooden beamed ceilings a defining feature. Giant amoeba desks with plants growing from them, Thai day beds, bean bags, cycle desks and and an office dog attempt to create a relaxed, informal work space with a welcoming, youthful vibe. Communal areas like our kitchen and lounges add a family feel but mostly I hope we have a pleasant, friendly environment that fosters information sharing and efficiency through its design.

Michelle Florance

Director - South Pacific

Michelle has more than 25 years experience in International Education. Michelle started working for The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Study Abroad office part time whilst she was a student completing her Bachelor of Science. After graduating Michelle then accepted a full time role which led to her love of international education.  Over the past 25 years Michelle has worked at UNSW with Study Abroad, Exchange programs and full degree students and has been involved in various leadership roles during this time. As part of the Senior Management Team for the International Centre Michelle provided strategic advice to developing pathways to international education programs and developed key relationships within the international education community. Michelle oversaw the management of the Study Abroad & Exchange program and was most recently Deputy Director: Global Education and Recruitment prior to her current role with TEAN.

Lauren Gabell

Marketing Director

Originally from Australia, Lauren’s passion for international education was ignited after studying abroad at Boston College . Lauren has worked for the study abroad offices at both Monash University and Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia. At Deakin University she was responsible for developing the study abroad program, and marketing the university in Europe, North America and Thailand. Lauren joined TEAN in 2004 as the Resident Director in Melbourne. Lauren is now based out of Chiang Mai, Thailand, and in addition to marketing responsibilities is also involved with TEAN’s in-country programs.

Q&A

What is your role? Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
My role at TEAN is a mix of marketing and in-country responsibilities since I am based in the Asia Pacific region. I oversee and help implement TEAN’s marketing strategy – everything from social media to print brochures – and since I am currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I oversee our Thailand program welcoming students while they’re here. I also help with our programs in other countries in the region as needed.

Tell us about your experience traveling and living in Asia Pacific?
I was born and raised in Australia, studied abroad in the U.S. and now live in Thailand. I have spent time working and travelling in New Zealand, China and throughout Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore. Australia is an easygoing country to live where people work hard, but also play hard, with an active outdoorsy lifestyle year round. The natural beauty of New Zealand astounds me with every visit. But it’s the beautiful culture of northern Thailand that has kept me in Chiang Mai since 2012.

What has been some of the highlights to date during your time living in Chiang Mai?
Being a naturally inquisitive person with a career in international education, I developed a restlessness to live somewhere with a culture that was different to my own. Northern Thai culture is completely different. Even after living here for a number of years, I experience or see something that challenges me and/or satiates my sense of curiosity every day. I feel I have learned more life lessons in my few years in Chiang Mai than I did in my previous 30-something years in Australia and am grateful to live in a place that continues to inspire and challenge me – instead of being stuck in a predictable routine – every day is still an adventure!

What should every student not leave Chiang Mai without doing?
Most people will work through a bucket list of experiences that goes with exploring a new place (and you can find some of these in my 10 Free Things to Do in Chiang Mai blog post). But the best experiences that everyone looks back on are rarely the items you’ve checked off your list. It’s the everyday interactions with your favorite fruit smoothie vendor and the surprising conversations you have with your new Thai friends, when you realize that fundamentally we are much more similar than we are different, that will stand out in your memory.

What resources are available at TEAN to students who are unsure of where they want to study abroad?
TEAN staff have a lot of experience living throughout Asia Pacific and will take the time to answer your questions. We all want students to make decisions they are comfortable and satisfied with so you won’t find anyone at TEAN giving you a hard sell. We want happy students on our programs who made the right decision for them! In addition to staff, TEAN’s Global Ambassadors are TEAN alumni willing to answer your questions. You can also get a very visual idea of the experience abroad by looking at TEAN’s Instagram account featuring student photos from all our locations.

Sean Lennon

Director and Co-Founder

Sean is Managing Director and Co-founder of The Education Abroad Network. Sean has resided in Perth, Australia since 1993. Upon arriving in Australia, Sean worked with international students attending the University of Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle. Other previous experience includes senior roles within the human resources consulting industry in both Australia and the USA. He earned a BA and MSA from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), and is member of NAFSA, The Forum on Education Abroad and AMCHAM Australia and China.

Chris Shepherd

Director and Co-Founder

Chris has been the Director for the U.S. operations since 1995 and co-founded The Education Abroad Network. He has lived abroad in Australia three times and has traveled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a member of NAFSA and The Forum on Education Abroad.

Q&A

How did TEAN get its start?
Sean Lennon and I started the organization in 1995 as we felt many of the current study abroad programs were too rigid and did not cater to the needs of individual students. At the time we were both working for an Australian university so we met lots of students that substantiated that view which provided us the impetus to move forward. We really wanted to help each and every student maximize their time abroad. You can read more about our story here.

What do you consider some of the major milestones for the company over the last 20+ years?
We do not get too caught up in numbers, but reaching our 20th anniversary in 2015 was special. The 20 year milestone itself was great, but the 20 for 20 Scholarship Campaign we hosted around the celebration made it even better. Our partners supported us with more than $150,000 in special scholarship funds to award in honor of the anniversary and we also awarded our first full ride scholarship from TEAN.

What do you think has helped make TEAN successful as it’s grown?
We have been successful as we have maintained our personalized approach to each applicant. That is a key focus of our training program and we also ensure all staff have relevant experience in the countries where we offer programs. It is fine to be customer service oriented, but you also need the knowledge to really make a difference as a program advisor. Our staff are also able to become “experts” as we solely focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Last year your family had a “study abroad” experience, can you tell us more about that?
We were able to live in Sydney, Australia and do some fun family travel throughout the region. The absolute highlight was my four daughters were able to attend a public school together. It was wonderful for them to have their own study abroad experience and for my wife and I to see firsthand how that experience had such a positive impact on them. Professionally it was very rewarding to work more closely with our on-site staff and expand my own knowledge of our programs, partners and locations.

Why was it important for TEAN to adopt a new company core value of Choose Earth?
For the majority of Americans who can study abroad (and our own staff) they are among the most fortunate people on the planet. While our society has so many positive attributes we are also a very wasteful and entitled society. We feel study abroad is a good opportunity to introduce or reinforce a sustainable lifestyle as students can sometimes be more open to learning and growing as individuals while they are abroad. This is not necessarily easy as we are competing for our student’s attention on many levels, but we are up for the challenge!