Office of International Programs and Services

Contact - Study Abroad

Meet the Study Abroad Office:

Jim Gieser - Study Abroad Advisor


Jim Gieser - Study Abroad Advisor | +1.828.227.2569

Hometown: Wheaton, IL

Countries Visited: 44 and counting. I have worked and lived abroad for four years in Germany and South Africa and spent summers in Ethiopia, The Netherlands, Australia, and Thailand.

Favorite Foods Abroad: Momos in Nepal; Pierogis in Poland; Pad Thai in Bangkok; Saag paneer and daal in India; Snoek bobotie in South Africa; any bakery item in Europe. I try everything and I usually love it!

Why I Think You Should Study Abroad: Studying abroad while still in college is the opportunity of a lifetime to gain firsthand experience of other cultures and societies, to make friends from around the world, and to study familiar disciplines from other perspectives.

M Blizzard


Meghan Blizzard - Graduate Assistant Advisor |

Hometown: Morehead City, NC

Undergrad Institution: Western Carolina University 

Undergrad Degree: B.S. Political Science, B.A. International Studies

Countries Visited: Mexico, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, and Italy 

Favorite Foods Abroad: Doner Kebabs, Saag Paneer, and Panang Curry

Why I Think You Should Study Abroad: Studying abroad gives students a sense of cultural awareness and broadens their view on the world. 

Anything else? I am passionate about education, language, and travel. 

Talk to Western Students who have Studied Abroad:

Ali K Study Abroad Ambassador


Ali Kabrich - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Clayton, NC 

Major: Graphic Design

Countries Visited: Italy

Favorite Foods from Abroad: Margherita Pizza, Spaghetti, Banana Gelato, and Prosecco 

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: Students should study abroad to be pushed out of their comfort zone and to grow as a person.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: As a member of the Honors College and Phi Mu, studying abroad is just one more incredible experience to add to my resume to set me apart from others!

Ali R Study Abroad Ambassador


Ali Russell - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Majors: International Studies/Philosophy; double minor in Leadership and Film Studies

Countries Visited: France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, China, Canada

Favorite Foods from Abroad:  Warm, fresh baguettes; gnocchi; Carte Noir coffee; Chinese yogurt.

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: I believe students should study abroad because it opens so many doors—to different cultures, languages, people, and even to aspects of yourself—that help you learn who you are and what you'll do in a new environment, that ultimately helps you become a better version of yourself.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: I love coffee and philosophy!

Deanna H Study Abroad Ambassador


Deanna Hellinger - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Hickory, NC

Major: Environmental Science

Countries Visited: New Zealand

Favorite Food from Abroad: Fish & chips

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: Studying abroad offers a life changing experience that you cannot get anywhere else, you’ll come back a completely different person.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: I’ve only been out of the country once, and that’s all it took for me to catch the travel bug. 

Jansen H Study Abroad Ambassador


Jansen Haneline - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Burlington, NC

Majors: Anthropology & International Studies

Countries Visited: England, Norway, Sweden, and Finland

Favorite Foods from Abroad: Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Rolls), Reindeer in any form, and Lingonberry Juice

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?:  Studying abroad allows you to not only see and understand more of the world but it allows you discover more about yourself.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: I am a coffee addicted, heavy metal loving, Nordic enthusiast.

Jason D Study Abroad Ambassador


Jeff Denton - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Canton, NC

Major: Entrepreneurship

Countries Visited: Italy

Favorite Foods from Abroad: Coppa, Prosciutto, Gnocco Fritto

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: Getting the experience of living life outside of your comfort zone and realizing that you're capable of doing much more than you ever thought possible on your own.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: I love music, craft beer, and getting to travel and make new friends.

Katie R Study Abroad Ambassador


Katie Riley - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Durham, NC

Majors: Criminal Justice, Spanish, Philosophy

Countries Visited: Brazil, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Portugal

Favorite Foods from Abroad: Spain's paella and Portugal's seafood in general. I had the best oysters of my life there. 

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: Exploring other countries pulls you out of your comfort zone in a surreal and lasting way, teaching you things about yourself that you could never learn in your home country.

Anything Else We Should Know About You?: Although I may not be your typical traveler (I am hesitant about change and intensely cautious), I still push myself to get out there and live in different spaces because whenever I do, I feel like my home has expanded.

Kenyetta M Study Abroad Ambassador


Kenyetta McGowens - Study Abroad Ambassador

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina

Majors: International Studies and Communications with a concentration in Public Relations

Countries Visited: I studied in Bulgaria and traveled to UK, Greece, Amsterdam, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Belgium.

Favorite Foods from Abroad: Milka brand Milk Chocolate and croissants! Also, the Gyro from Greece was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth.

Why Do You Think Students Should Study Abroad?: You learn so much about yourself as well as the world and other cultures.

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