Connor Bollum is a senior majoring in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture. He has served as a Student Travel Consultant for the CALS Study Abroad for three years. After graduation, he is joining Burge North America as a grain merchandiser trainee. During his time at Iowa State, he had the opportunity to participate in two spring break travel courses to Spain and Argentina, as well as spent a semester at the American Farm School – Perrotis College in Thessaloniki, Greece. Read below to learn about Connor’s time studying abroad and his advice to future travelers.
What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experiences?
It is hard to pick just one memory, but it probably has to be hiking up the cliffs of Meteora in Greece. Meteora has a few different monasteries on top of these cliffs and you get some incredible views. We actually were at one of the most scenic views around sunset and a dog just wandered over to sit in my lap. It was picture perfect. Overall, being in Meteora was a really cool experience and hiking several hours up and down made the view at the top all the more worth it.
Why do you believe having an international experience is important for students to have during their time at Iowa State?
I believe that having an international experience is important because it pushes you out of your comfort zone. When you get pushed out of your comfort zone I think you really have the opportunity to grow as a person.
What has been your favorite part of being a student travel consultant (STC) in the CALS Study Abroad office?
My favorite part of being a STC is helping students figure out where they would like to study abroad. I was the first student from Iowa State to go to the American Farm School for a semester. It was such a positive experience, that ISU has had many more students go, which I think is pretty neat.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to decide on a study abroad program?
My advice would be to do some introspection and decide what is most important to you. Whether that is studying somewhere over a school break, spending a semester-abroad, taking classes related to your field of study, or going to a certain area of the world. Once you have an idea of what is most important to you, try to find a program that meets some of your requirements and have an open mind if it is not exactly what you want.
What are some skills you believe that you gained while studying abroad?
I would say that most of my skills were soft skills. Whether navigating a foreign city or making decisions for travel plans, I definitely became more confident. I also became a better communicator by not always being able to speak the language, but by using body language & hand gestures!
Where would you like to travel in the future and why?
A little closer to home than some of the other places I have been, but I would like to do an epic road trip via the old Route 66, up Hwy 1 on the Pacific Ocean, continue all the way to Vancouver, and then come back home to the Midwest through Canada while stopping in the Canadian Rockies in the Banff area on the way.