Reflecting on Study Abroad: Corrylee Drozda

Corrylee Drozda
Corrylee Drozda

By Megan Schulte, student study abroad ambassador

This week’s alumni feature in our 18 of the Last 9 study abroad series is Corrylee Drozda, an attorney advisor for the Department of Justice in the Executive Office of Immigration Review. I sat down with Drozda to talk about her study abroad experience in Spain and Costa Rica, specifically talking about how both opportunities allowed her to not only develop professionally but also personally.

Professional Development

Drozda recognizes the impact that her study abroad opportunities have made on her professional success. Her job requires her to work with immigrants from Central America. She stressed that living in Costa Rica allows her to have a better perspective on where they are coming from and makes her clients feel more comfortable.

When asked how study abroad affects her as an alum, Drozda replied, “I think loosening up and knowing nothing bad is going to happen has been great in terms of my career and being able to move forward, and it has just improved my overall quality of life.”

Not only has study abroad helped her professionally currently, but it also initially helped her choose her career path. “Costa Rica is a peaceful and stable country, but seeing the poverty there reinforced my decision to help people find a path to a better life and find whatever they are looking for. So it gave me a better understanding of what their situations might be,” Drozda said.

Personal Growth and Discovery: Pura Vida

One of the most important and impactful lessons that Drozda learned while studying abroad was one that took place outside of the classroom. Although travel conditions in Costa Rica were sometimes tough, no one ever complained about it. The culture there is, “to be in the moment and not worry too much about what is going to happen next...In Costa Rica they have a saying called “pura vida” or pure life. It’s a beautiful day, so just take your time and see where the day goes,” Drozda said.

Drozda saw this attitude or way of life during her travels in both Spain and Costa Rica. She identifies as a Type A personality who enjoys having everything planned out, so adopting this easy-going, no stress way of life was very good for her.

In addition to a more relaxed view of life, Droza gained more confidence. “I learned a lot about myself and how I handle and deal with difficult situations. I really gained a lot of confidence; I learned how to figure out how to approach tough situations on my own, so when returning to campus, I had a better sense of self and purpose," Drozda said.

Final Thoughts

Beyond the typical advice of “you should do it,” Drozda’s final thoughts on study abroad were, “It can be really stressful being in a new place you’ve never been to before that speaks a different language, so being gracious and patient with that can be challenging in the moment. However, people are really nice everywhere I travel, so I think putting forth the effort to make those connections with people can really help it to be a great experience.”

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