Reflecting on Study Abroad: Kimberly Forster

Kimberly Forster
Kimberly Forster

By Megan Schulte, student study abroad ambassador

This week’s edition of the Reflecting on Study Abroad with 18 of the Last 9 series features the wonderful Kimberly Forster: an international lawyer at Lawyers without Borders who has a passion for learning and immersing herself in new languages. Forster studied abroad during one of her Spring semesters in Oviedo, Spain and loved it so much that she decided to stay for the summer too! In today’s story, I will reflect on how Forster leveraged this study abroad experience throughout her post-grad years.

Translating to Professional Experience

Forster’s year abroad was influential in her decision to complete the Fulbright Program in Brazil after graduation. “It definitely made me much more confident in my application for the Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil. Now I’m doing another application for a Master’s degree abroad so I think it helped me to realize that not only can I live in a country and fit in, but I can be super successful,” Forster said. She is currently doing work in international development for Lawyers without Borders, and credits her abroad experiences as being helpful with all the travel that her current position requires of her.

“The name of Fulbright is also really great because it's a well-established group, so the state department took really great care of us", Forster said. The Fulbright program also opened many doors professionally for her. She recently was invited to a TIES seminar in DC about trafficking and illicit networks. She described it as a great way to network and meet different Fulbright alumni and government workers.

Love of Languages

When asked why she was attracted to living and working abroad Forster said, “I think it started with my love of languages. I have always been good at learning languages so I kept on adding them. I started with Spanish and then added Chinese and Portuguese. I think that language is a communication puzzle, and it is really fun for my brain. And I also really like experiencing new cultures and ways of thinking.”

Forster mentioned many times during the interview that she enjoyed pushing herself outside of her comfort zone in regards to only speaking the native language during all of her times abroad. She says this is one of the best and most effective ways to learn both the language and the culture.

Developing Lifelong Friendships

During her time with the Fulbright program in Brazil, Forster had the opportunity to become friends with amazing people that she still stays in contact with. She said that, “it’s nice to know that I have friends in all these different parts of the word. In fact, we are all skyping this weekend to watch Stranger Things. My friends in Brazil are the source of many stories.”

Final Thoughts

Before we ended our interview, I asked Forster for her parting advice on studying abroad. She said, “I think everyone should study abroad. It’s an invaluable experience, and this is a unique time in your life when you have this institution that supports going to another country and traveling every weekend to experience new things.”

She also stressed the importance of being open to new things. “The other thing I really try to do when I have these exchanges is to be a yes person. I try to say yes to every opportunity. So if someone asks me if I want to go to that place or try a new kind of food, I say yes. This leads to some really amazing stories and gives you opportunities and experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have had,” Forster said.

Looking to translate your  education abroad experience to your resume?

Translate Your Experience Now