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

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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 and 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 asked a lot. After studying abroad I worked at my college’s study abroad office. I realized that no matter how difficult or challenging work was, I still loved my job with all my heart. As soon as I realized this, I threw myself into international education and study abroad advising as much as I could to get experience…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 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 flavor and cultural experience. My favorite spot was this little place that was just barely big enough to stand up in that we went to during a TEAN Orientation in Seoul. During a different TEAN Orientation in Shanghai, one of the coolest experiences was when we went to a cooking class and learned to make xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). 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 a country once. It’s important to really immerse and learn about people different than 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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

Katie Barrett

Assistant Program Manager

Katie’s (KB) first trip abroad was in high school to Guatemala for a Spanish immersion class. Upon her return, she had a stronger grasp on Spanish, but more importantly she had a strong desire to keep exploring new cultures. Since that initial trip, she has traveled and lived in Central & South America, including time working as an English teacher in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This time abroad taught her things she hopes every study abroad student will learn; resilience, bravery, confidence, and compassion. Working at TEAN, she is able to play a small part in help making students’ dreams a reality. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has a B.A. in Communications. Her passions are education, travel, and animal rights. In her free time, you can find KB running, dancing, playing with her dog, or well…traveling!

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What inspired you to teach abroad?
It sounds a little silly, but a Netflix documentary, The Square, about the Arab Spring really inspired me to teach after graduating. After watching it, I felt empowered to go out and make a difference in the world so started researching how to make that difference. I wanted to teach in Argentina because I have been in love with the country since elementary school when I first heard about Eva Perón, los descamisados and la Guerra Sucia. I also looked at it as a chance to improve my Spanish. Argentina was an ultimate bucket list destination for me.

What advice do you have for students returning from abroad?
Be aware of reverse culture shock. I remember when I returned from Argentina, my dad took me to breakfast and I was shocked at how large the portions were. I was overwhelmed by the amount of food on everyone’s plate. Not to mention everyone speaking English. Another piece of advice would be to not get frustrated with people if they don’t understand how much studying abroad has changed you (for the better). Not everyone is lucky enough to study and live abroad so they can’t really understand where you’re coming from from. Be gentle and patient with people.

If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I would definitely go on our Singapore program with Singapore Management University. I didn’t know much about this location before working at TEAN. Now I’m totally in love with it. I’m fascinated by the intersection of east meets west, love that they have four official languages and the food looks amazing. I can’t wait to visit!

What one song belongs on your ‘study abroad soundtrack’ and why?
“If Only for Memories” by Streetlight Manifesto. It’s a song I really clung to when I moved abroad and drew a lot strength from. The lyrics go, “This is your pain your dilemma. Do you stay in the town where they raised ya? Or will you sail away, pull the anchor and go headed for the come what may. You have to leave ’cause if you don’t, dear, you’ll never see the things you read about in books. You saw the films and you were hooked. But everything you want won’t come to you. You realize now that you’ve gotta go see this through.”

What makes TEAN HQ in Chicago a great place to work?
One of my favorite things about working at TEAN are my coworkers. Everyone works hard and takes pride in what they do – that makes me work harder! I also love our commitment to always Choose Earth, something we really exemplify in our Chicago HQ office by recycling paper, eliminating paper plates/plastic utensils and being responsible energy consumers. We even compost our food scraps.

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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. I have visited our TEAN locations in Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore. Most recently I spent some time in Thailand and Myanmar.

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 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. When I visited there I loved 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 Profile Picture

Shannon Diegel

Senior 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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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

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 in 2013 and has been pursuing his new found love of international education ever since. Nick has traveled to Australia several times with TEAN to help lead orientations, summer programs and visit partner universities. He is grateful for the opportunity to help students experience the incredible benefits of studying abroad.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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

Senior 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. Kate has since lived in Auckland, New Zealand for a year, and is currently TEAN’s New Zealand Programs Manager and team lead.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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!

What do you think makes Singapore 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.

Melissa Kirschner

Associate Regional Director

Melissa studied abroad three times in Italy, England and Ghana as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. It was from these experiences that her love of travel, exploration and education abroad was born. After earning her B.A. in studio art and psychology, Melissa began her career in fundraising and development working in art and education institutions. In 2014 she left the world of development to pursue a career in international education. Prior to joining TEAN, she worked in international service-learning.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Molly Laycob

Assistant Program Manager

Molly’s first international travel experience was when she studied abroad in Valencia, Spain for a semester in college. While there, she completed a Global Pathways Certificate that allowed her to research the relationship between sustainability and studying abroad. Molly completed her undergraduate degree at Florida State University in environmental studies and international affairs and then moved back to her hometown to complete a masters degree in sustainability at Saint Louis University. While getting her masters degree, Molly checked off a travel bucket list item when she traveled to Israel while also completing classwork on the country’s sustainability initiatives. Molly’s passion for inspiring others to study abroad while living their life in a sustainable manner led her to Chicago where she now works in the TEAN office.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What inspired you to pursue your masters degree in Sustainability?
My mom instilled me in from an extremely young age that the natural environment, along with all of the wild species that call it home, are the most important pieces to our ecosystem and that we should respect them deeply. Thankfully, after an academic career based around environmental science, one buzzword kept coming back into my life that encompassed everything that I stood for – sustainability – and I jumped at the opportunity to pursue a masters degree in a field that combines the preservation of our natural environment while also factoring in the needs of human beings.

In what ways is study abroad tied to sustainability?
Studying abroad gives students an opportunity to live their life in an environment which differs from the one in which they were raised. Some students may find themselves in situations where they are very pleased with the pro-environmental initiatives in their host country…or shocked by the lack of. It is an opportunity to understand the reasonings behind the host country’s practices and either take those green initiatives back home with them or to educate yourself more on the obstacles that the host country is facing that perhaps is keeping them from taking their next steps towards a sustainable future.

What are some small and big ways students can Choose Earth while abroad?
The beauty of sustainability is that small-scale efforts are the building blocks to large-scale changes and there are plenty of ways that students can make green choices while studying abroad including; choosing public transportation or walking, using reusable water bottles, grocery bags and utensils instead of single-use items, turning off lights, air conditioning and electrical appliances while not in your housing, making an effort to eat locally-produced foods that are in-season and taking your own reusable food container when ordering food to go, offsetting your airline carbon credits and ensure that any animal or nature preserve visits outside of TEAN’s planned activities are legitimately ethically sound places and not tourist traps that harm animals or the natural environment – do research online and ask around.

What is your favorite travel quote?
“Take only memories, leave only footprints” is a quote that I live by while traveling. To me, fully taking in and appreciating a moment so that I have a solid memory of a trip is more important than any picture or souvenir. It is important to not leave any human impressions on the natural environment that you explore while abroad so future generations of all species can live in harmony with the land.

If you were going to study on a TEAN program tomorrow, where would you go?
I would definitely choose one of the New Zealand programs. I have a huge admiration for the country’s sustainability initiatives and how they are moving at such a fast rate towards cutting their carbon footprint – they are a great example for other countries to follow! I also want to experience its spectacular natural settings and landscapes.

Kate McSurley

Senior Program Manager

Kate first traveled abroad as a participant of TEAN, 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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What is your favorite part of working with students?
For me, I love the first call with a student who has decided to take the leap and study abroad. They know they want to do it, but the idea of checking off all the steps is overwhelming, scary and seemingly impossible. When they realize we are committed to making this easy for them and I hear that sense of relief at the end of our chat, it always reminds me why I love what I do.

Why should students consider studying abroad in Australia?
Some students underestimate the complexity of Australia and don’t realize that it has vastly different locations and environments, similar to the unique cities and environments you can experience across the U.S. Even though the country may at first seem relatively similar to the U.S. compared to other study abroad destination, studying in Australia certainly doesn’t mean you up on the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of cultural and outdoor experiences. Here students can access rainforests, reefs, deserts, wildlife, cities and dramatically different landscapes, all without having to cross international borders.

As a TEAN alum and now employee, what do you think makes TEAN unique?
Everyone at TEAN is completely committed to encouraging study abroad experiences. It really is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. As a student, I was taken aback by the level of support and service I received from TEAN staff. Now, I understand the sense of responsibility to ease the burden and shorten the hurdles for our students because there is so much value to studying abroad. We truly believe in what we do.

Where did you study abroad?
After first considering Melbourne for its prestigious reputation and quirky cafe culture, I switched to the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, right outside of Brisbane. I realized I might have a better chance of warm weather for my entire program if I headed for the Sunshine State. Now having traveled to both, I’m confident I would have been happy in either location, but UQ’s campus was the perfect escape from the harsh midwestern winters I was used to in Chicago. I really fell into the laidback Brisbane lifestyle more than anything and quickly understood it’s much more than just great weather. It’s a perfect city for international students because it has the right balance of culture, sport and access to adventure. The twisting Brisbane River gives you front door ferry service to very unique neighborhoods all with their own character and style. The ocean is within easy reach for a weekend jaunt (but spending a night at the manmade beaches of South Bank can be just as breathtaking). The views from Mt. Coot-tha are surreal, especially at sunset, and the city’s a great place for students who want to enjoy both city life and exploring the great outdoors. Brisbane lets you have it all.

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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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!

Trisha Turner

Assistant Program Manager

Trisha’s first opportunity to travel outside the U.S. was after graduating from Indiana University when she was able to pursue her dream of living abroad by working at a resort in Bavaria, Germany. She spent two years traveling extensively across Europe and North Africa, solidifying her passion for experiencing other cultures and seeing more of the world. Trisha has a background in recruitment and previously worked for Disney on-campus recruitment organizing internships.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What led you to your current role at TEAN?
While in school, I participated in an internship with the Walt Disney Company. Based off that experience, I was able to return to Disney after graduation and joined their recruitment team for Internships & Programs. It was there that I realized my passion for advising and helping students make their professional dreams a reality. After various roles with the company, I accepted an opportunity to work at a resort in southern Germany and spent almost two years in Germany, traveling across Europe extensively. Upon returning to the States, I knew I wanted to combine my love for career advising with my passion for travel, and focused my career search on international education. This field continues to inspire me every day and I enjoy my interactions with students who dream of that life-changing experience of going abroad.

Why would you encourage a student to pursue an internship abroad?
An internship is crucial for professional success after graduation. Knowing how much my own internship benefitted me professionally, while also knowing how much living abroad encourages personal growth, I think it’s an incredible combination for a student. TEAN’s internships are totally hands-on and interns get the rare experience of receiving close mentorship from experts in the field. If an international internship sounds at all intimidating, I think that’s all the more reason to do it! Our internship program is designed to not only challenge a student, but support them at the same time. Students return home with a sense of confidence and tangible achievements that will stand out on job or graduate school applications.

If you were going to study on a TEAN program tomorrow, where would you go?
It’s hard to choose but New Zealand is toward the top of my list of places I haven’t been yet, so I think I’d have to choose the University of Otago. I love the idea of living on the South Island and seeing all that beautiful New Zealand has to offer. I’m also partial to old, sprawling university campuses and quintessential college towns. I think life in Dunedin would suit me well!

What is your favorite travel quote?
My all-time favorite line that I’ve always applied to my travel adventures is “and I will learn to love the skies I’m under,” from the Mumford and Sons song, Hopeless Wanderer. I mentally reference this line every time I find myself in a new place, because it’s such a great reminder that traveling isn’t always sunshine and roses — it can be tough. Maybe it takes a day or two to adjust to new surroundings, maybe months, and that’s okay! Choosing to love the skies I’m under and remembering why I made the decision to leave my comfort zone in the first place, helps me see the beauty of reveling in my current surroundings.

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

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.

Q&A

What are some bucket list items for a semester on the Gold Coast?
A night of live music and great food at Miami Marketta, catching some waves at Burleigh Point, exploring the amazing waterfalls at Springbrook, and spending a lazy Sunday checking out the Village Markets for the best street food and boutique market stalls around.

What insider tips would you give to a student studying on the Gold Coast?
Firstly, I would recommend buying a cheap second hand bike (try Gumtree) and spending as much time as possible exploring the coastline. There are bike paths all along the Gold Coast’s famous beaches and cycling is the best way to get to know your new home, discover different places and become familiar with your surroundings. Secondly, I would encourage meeting as many “Aussies” as possible. They will show you the best places to go and all the local secrets.

What is your favorite TEAN cultural event on the Gold Coast?
My favorite cultural event is a rugby league football match. It’s awesome to see the students cheering on their adopted home team and getting swept up in the exciting atmosphere of a much loved Aussie sporting event, even though they haven’t learned any of the rules yet.

What are some of your favorite places to visit within Australia?
I love the buzz and beauty of Sydney and the amazing night life of Melbourne. Closer to home I enjoying making a day trip to Byron Bay for the bohemian vibe and delicious food, or heading north to Noosa for the beaches and unique shopping experiences.

Where have you traveled throughout Asia Pacific?
Being so close to Asia, I have been fortunate to travel to Bali many times as well as Japan – both to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and to the pristine snowfields of Niseko. Australia offers some fantastic deals for traveling to Indonesia and I encourage our students to visit this region for a completely different perspective on life south of the Equator!

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.

Courtney Burns

Resident Assistant - Wellington

Courtney studied abroad with TEAN at Victoria University of Wellington and fell in love with the country and culture. Once she returned to the U.S., she became a TEAN Global Ambassador and also assisted her university’s study abroad office by speaking at student panels, tabling at events, and helping out at pre-departure orientation. After graduating from Emmanuel College last May, with a degree in Counseling and Health Psychology and Mathematics, her passion for traveling brought her back to “Windy Welly.” She loves to help other TEAN students experience all that Wellington and New Zealand have to offer.
Q&A

Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad with TEAN at Victoria University of Wellington in the spring of 2016. After months of looking at different schools and cities across Australia and New Zealand, I found that Wellington was just my dream city. It’s a small, quirky capital city that’s right on the water and surrounded by mountains. Plus, it’s in the center of the country, which gave me easy access to anywhere else I’d want to visit – what more could I ask for? VUW offered classes I wanted to take and it was really different in size and atmosphere from the small school I attended back in the States, so it seemed like the perfect challenge!

What inspired you to move back to Wellington after graduation?
There were a lot of factors that encouraged me to head back after I finished school. As I started my senior year of college, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next and I really had no idea but, in my head, New Zealand was the thing I kept coming back to. I’d always wanted to travel more and I wasn’t quite ready to go to grad school or settle down somewhere and get a 9 to 5 job, so I decided to go for it. Ten days after graduation, I was on a plane back to Wellington.

What advice can you give to a recent graduate who is thinking about making a similar move?
Read up on what it’s like to move and live abroad in whatever country you want to go to. Studying abroad somewhere is really different from working and living there, so it’s important you know what you’re getting yourself into! I read a lot of blog posts and the entirety of Moon’s “Living Abroad in New Zealand” guide so I could learn about employee rights, visa options, housing regulations, work culture and everything I may not have thought about while studying abroad.

What do you love about Wellington and what makes it a great place to study abroad?
Wellington has a little bit of everything! Great food and shopping, awesome (usually free) museums and festivals, cool walks, hikes, beaches and parks, and it’s right in the center of New Zealand, so you can easily travel anywhere in or out of the country! It’s also stunningly beautiful – seriously, I could walk along the waterfront everyday and never get sick of it.

Where do you like to take out of town visitors when they visit for the first time?
My first stop would usually be Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. It’s huge, completely free and will teach you anything you’ve ever wanted to know about the country. Another staple would be the cable car, since it’s in literally every brochure or book written about the city and there’s a cool little light show in the tunnels that no one tells you about. Finally, I’d bring them to Kaffee Eis for some gelato and coffee, because it’s to-die-for and I just discovered that they only have locations in Wellington Central, which is unfortunate for the rest of the country.

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I manage our internship programs in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. 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.

Nathan Dunshea

Resident Assistant - Newcastle

Nathan was born and raised in the Newcastle area of Australia and is currently completing his Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)/ Bachelor of Business at the University of Newcastle. Growing up playing all kinds of sports, he traveled throughout Hong Kong, France and the U.K. with his rugby team in high school and predictably caught the travel bug. He later spent a semester abroad at the University of Iowa and then, when that wasn’t enough, packed his bags and headed to Beijing to live and work as a project management intern. He previously worked with the University of Newcastle Exchange Student Network, and now brings with him a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to help ensure TEAN students witness the beautiful Newcastle area in all her glory.

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What first sparked your interest for travel?
It was actually a presentation I watched in third grade. My friend’s grandfather came to school and presented about his life as a scientist in Antarctica. I then decided that at some point in my life I would travel there – I started with big dreams as you can see! Fast forward to now and I have lived in five countries since graduating college.

What led you to living in Seoul?
My father is Japanese so my sister had gone to Japan to work and reunite with that side of the family. I had originally planned to join her in Japan but found Korea to be an interesting place to travel while still being close enough to help her. Soon, however, the country became my home and now I don’t think it will ever be able to get rid of me.

What are some must-do or must-see items for a first time visitor to Seoul?
Of course you need to go to the main attractions, like the palaces and the DMZ, but after that you can really explore your interests. For foodies, there are an unlimited number of restaurants to try and eat your way through Korea. For those interested in art, Anguk is filled with art museums to get lost in. For the KPop addicts, you should head to Coex as a start and then possibly find a cafe or restaurant owned by your favorite celeb. It really depends on the person but there’s something for everyone here.

Where else have you traveled in Asia Pacific?
I’ve been to Japan a ton, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It changes daily but I think that Mongolia is next up on my travel wish list.

What are some of your favorite Korean foods or dishes?
My all time favorite is called yukhoi, which is basically Korean steak tartare, but it really depends on my mood. I also love gamjatang, naengmyeon, galbi… I think most people know about bibimbap and Korean BBQ, but I would encourage people to try more Korean soups. They’re one of the underappreciated Korean foods. Also, I’ve heard people say they don’t like kimchi but there are HUNDREDS of types of kimchi. Spicy, non-spicy, radish, cabbage, onion root, fish, vegetarian, etc. The kimchi most people know is just a gateway kimchi. Keep trying!

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lauren Gabell

Marketing Director & Thailand 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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Michael Gaetano

Resident Assistant - Melbourne

Michael finished his Tourism Studies in 2005 and has worked in the travel industry in sales and marketing ever since. He currently resides in Melbourne and works as an Adventure Specialist travel consultant. He has travelled extensively throughout the world. His passions are travel, learning about new cultures and history and all things sports.

Alyssa Giffin

Resident Assistant - Townsville & Cairns

Alyssa first realized the value of studying abroad when she undertook a semester in Hawaii as part of her Bachelor of Science degree at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. Since then she has completed her Masters in Marine Biology at James Cook University on the Great Barrier Reef and has worked in a number of positions along the east coast of Australia and within island communities in the Indo-Pacific sharing her passion for culture, nature and conservation. She loves to travel both at home in Australia and overseas, and is excited to explore and share the experiences of the South Pacific Region with TEAN students.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Photo of TEAN Staff Ange Hart

Ange Hart

Resident Assistant - Melbourne

Ange’s love of people and traveling has taken her to parts of Southeast Asia, North, Central and South America, the U.K., Europe, some South Pacific islands, and around much of the huge, gorgeous continent of Australia. A native Melbournian, she feels lucky to call this vibrant, eclectic city her home and get to show her off to her study abroad friends. When she’s not showing people around Melbourne, she is busy dancing, hosting events, being silly on stage or taking adults through deep, emotional processes to re-find their power. She believes that life is full of magic if we just breathe it in, and she chooses to do just that!

Joshua Horrell Profile Picture

Josh Horrell

Resident Assistant - Wellington

Joshua’s appetite for international education and adventure was first discovered during his gap year in England where he worked at a prep school in Sussex. Since then the Wellington native has undertaken a semester abroad in Uppsala, Sweden as well as an internship in Shanghai. All of these experiences have given him the ability to recognize the perspective of an exchange student and the various opportunities/challenges one might face. He also loves to show off Wellington to those lucky enough to visit it!

Sean Lennon

Director and Co-Founder

Sean is TEAN’s Director and Co-founder and has lived 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 U.S. He earned a BA and MSA from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), and is member of NAFSA, The Forum on Education Abroad, AMCHAM (Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China) and AustCham Korea.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What is your role at TEAN?
I’m a Resident Assistant based out of Dunedin, New Zealand. I look after students that study abroad at the University of Otago and help introduce students to New Zealand culture during TEAN Orientations as well as throughout the semester.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part for me is planning group events to do things most students otherwise wouldn’t know about or have the budget to do on their own. I love seeing how newly arrived students react when they walk up to an amazing vista – like in the Otago Peninsula or Queenstown or Milford Sound – that perfectly encapsulates the natural beauty of New Zealand. It’s also fun to see how excited students are to see the All Blacks vs Australia rugby match at our local stadium.

What makes Dunedin a great place to study abroad?
Dunedin is the only place I know where you can see albatross and penguin colonies in amazing nature reserves close to town – it really deserves its reputation as the wildlife capital of New Zealand. Students in Dunedin get the perks of being in a college town, in a place with a rich indigenous and immigrant history, and surrounded by green hills and wild beaches.

What should be on every student’s bucket list for a semester in New Zealand?
Every student in New Zealand should plan to do a Great Walk or at least a part of it. Great Walks are backpacking or boating trails that go through New Zealand’s National Parks managed by the Department of Conservation. I also recommend taking the time to watch kapa haka groups that often perform during community events, and learning about Maori history and culture.

What places would you recommend to someone visiting New Zealand?
I’m a big fan of Te Anau. The town is right near the start of the Kepler Track and is the closest town to Milford Sound. Te Anau tends to have less people compared to Queenstown or Wanaka, but it still has great restaurants and cafes, and a year-round boat tour to otherworldly glow worm caves on the opposite side of the lake.

TEAN Staff Amy Marr

Amy Marr

Resident Assistant - Christchurch

Amy loves nothing more than sharing her beautiful backyard with others and ensuring TEAN students have the most incredible time in New Zealand. Born and raised in the South Island Amy is a keen tramper (Kiwi for hiking) and traveller with plans for another epic American road trip later this year. A graduate of both Victoria University of Wellington and University of Otago, she is very knowledgeable about the New Zealand university system. Amy plans programs and events for all ages and interests at the Christchurch Art Gallery, an exciting role that helps her keep in the know about what events are happening in and around Christchurch.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Photo of Andrea McKenna Brankin

Andrea McKenna Brankin

Resident Director - Singapore

Andrea is an American who has been living in Singapore for seven years. A professional journalist and yoga teacher by trade, Andrea writes about life in Singapore for local publications, blogs and websites and also teaches yoga to adults and kids around town. Her first stint as an expat was in London in 1993 when she was finishing her journalism studies at Boston University. She is married to a financial services executive and has one young daughter, who was born in Singapore. Andrea is a native of Mystic, Connecticut, but had been living in Chicago since 1995 before moving to Singapore in 2012. She is a former field hockey and rugby player, but now prefers walking around the beautiful and numerous Singapore parks. Local claim to fame: Andrea met the first female President of Singapore Halimah Yacob in 2017 for her volunteer work with a girls home. She is also featured in the book, Dear Ms. Expat, which details women’s expat lives in Singapore.

Nala Promtang Profile Picture

Nasorn (Nala) Promtang

Thailand Resident Coordinator

Originally from Bangkok, Nasorn, or Nala, first got her taste of studying abroad at 16 she went to Sydney for a summer English program. When she turned 18 she decided to follow her travel dreams and journeyed through Bali a la Eat, Pray, Love. Later, during a 6-month break in university, she travelled again to Bali, as well as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, blogging about her experience in Thai as she went. Nala graduated from Chiang Mai University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and is now happy to be based in the northern Thai town sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for travel in the region with TEAN students.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Shivani Rajan

Resident Assistant - Auckland

Shivani is an AUT University Communications graduate and spent a semester on exchange at Cardiff University. It’s a time still cherished very close to her heart. She loves the opportunity to work alongside international students, and is very passionate about the opportunities that come with studying abroad. Shivani welcomes TEAN students to Auckland and helps them not only learn about themselves but to also make the most of their learning opportunities while in New Zealand.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What first brought you to Australia?
During my junior year of college I decided I would do a teaching internship abroad in Australia. It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions of my life. My placement was at a public primary school which happened to be the first school established in Sydney in 1869. I stayed for the entire year working on tasks that included lesson plan development, art and physical education activities, speech therapy, presentations, assembly material and more. Observing and discovering Australia’s different approaches to teaching made me realize the importance of helping students discover their individual talents and learning styles without putting too much emphasis or attention on standardized testing results. Upon my return to the U.S., I finished my degree in Education and Global Studies with the intent to explore education related career paths with more global involvement and perspective.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My absolute favorite part of my job is seeing or hearing stories about TEAN students who have stepped out of their comfort zones while abroad and are very pleased afterward that they did. There’s nothing like moments of self doubt followed by accomplishment and feeling proud of yourself for doing something new. Many of our students have numerous experiences like this while abroad and realize there’s no person or thing here to hold them back from some truly amazing opportunities. The Aussies often say “just have a go” and it’s an expression I’ve never taken lightly – I never regret trying new things!

What makes Sydney a great place to study or intern abroad?
Sydney is a big and diverse city boasting a wide range of lifestyles and multicultural groups. I love it because people from all over the world have decided to make it their home. It is a very accepting city and is always hosting the neatest events around town that support various groups. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is breathtaking and the Opera House is such a beautiful icon that I often find myself on its steps reflecting after a long week. It always leaves me in awe of how lucky I am to live in such a great city.

What was the transition like moving from Brisbane to Sydney?
Sydney has more than twice as many people living in it compared to Brisbane, so they are very different cities that offer completely different lifestyles. I lived in Brisbane for two years and loved its country-town feel (as any girl from Nashville would be able to appreciate). Brisbane is situated in an ideal spot in Queensland for exploring the beaches to both the north and south as well as its hidden hinterland. I miss its warm weather and continuous sunshine. The city itself was small so very easy to get acquainted with in a short amount of time, which can be ideal for study abroad students – you feel at home right away! The Brisbane River was one of my favorite things about ‘Brissy’ as it kept the entire city connected and made it quick to get around on speedy Citycat ferries. In Sydney, on the other hand, you seldom even have to leave the city to find adventure. It always has huge sporting events, concerts, art exhibitions, cultural festivals, markets and so much more. I love that it sees four seasons as opposed to Brisbane and has plenty of scenic hikes with views of the harbor around it.

Chris Shields

Resident Assistant - Perth

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Perth, Chris has a vast knowledge of the “hidden gem” that is Perth and is well acquainted with its relaxed atmosphere, sporting culture and stunning beaches. Chris has always enjoyed travel but his wanderlust was even further fueled when he recently studied in Washington, D.C., at UCLA’s Washington campus and partook in an internship experience with a foreign trade organization. During the internship, Chris adapted to an international lifestyle and discovered his passion for experiencing foreign cultures. Now back in Perth, Chris is continuing his studies at the University of Western Australia pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree with plans to study law at a postgraduate level. Chris is excited to work with a variety of students from various cultural backgrounds and looks forward to showing off his stunning hometown.

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. 

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.

TEAN Staff Kat Taylor

Kat Taylor

Resident Assistant - Brisbane

Born to Australian expats in England, Katharine (Kat) lived in Tunisia before moving to Texas at a young age. She has always been ready for an adventure as traveling was a constant passion in her family and has lived all over the world. After graduating with a degree in CAD and Design from The Art Institute of Houston, she lived in Seattle. Before moving to Brisbane, Kat spent three years living outside of Tokyo. She loves the relaxed, fun lifestyle in Brisbane and is excited to share it with visiting students.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Q&A

What do you like about Brisbane and what makes it a great place to study abroad?
Brisbane is a good-sized city but doesn’t have the overwhelming hustle and bustle of bigger cities. It boasts near perfect weather, is incredibly easy to navigate and using the ferry system on the river never gets old! Brisbane is a perfect spot to study abroad because the central location of UQ and QUT allows you to really dive deep into the city.

Where do you like to take out of town visitors when they visit Brisbane for the first time?
Some highlights that I like to show first-time visitors to Brisbane include Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Mount Coot-tha Lookout, Burleigh Heads Beach and checking out the Gold Coast. It’s also always fun to walk along the river near South Bank and grab a bite to eat or head to the Tamborine Rainforest – there are so many trails to explore.

What should be on every student’s bucket list for a semester in Australia?
I always tell everyone to get out of the cities and explore! The countryside of Australia is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. That said, you also want to make sure to visit a few of the other main cities such as Sydney, Adelaide, Perth or Melbourne. Just like in the U.S., each city has its own personality and flair that can only be understood once you’ve spent at least a few days there.

Where have you traveled throughout Asia Pacific and what have been some highlights from those travels?
Every time I travel through Asia Pacific, it always leads me wanting to explore a new corner of the area. I have amazing memories from Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and Guam. I usually don’t like to return to places I’ve already been to but Thailand is one of the few exception to that rule. I’ve vacationed there twice and each time I can’t wait to go back yet again to see more. Thai people are amazing, the food is unforgettable and the beauty of the land stands out as a highlight in my travels.

What is your favorite Aussie snack?
Oh goodness, there’s sooo many, it’s hard to narrow it down. I love a good sausage roll when I’m eating on the run. I still don’t understand why they’re not found around the world…yet. I also love pavlova – fresh fruit with whipped cream on a meringue…yummy!

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.

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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lauren Gabell

Marketing Director & Thailand 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.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

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 TEAN’s Director and Co-founder and has lived 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 U.S. He earned a BA and MSA from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), and is member of NAFSA, The Forum on Education Abroad, AMCHAM (Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China) and AustCham Korea.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

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!