The following is an interview with Jordan Steinfeld, a Tripper and co-founder of Indelible International, a resource for students studying, interning and volunteering abroad. In this interview, we get the inside scoop on the organization behind a very cool new Tripping Network.
Tell us a bit about Indelible International.
Indelible International is a site for people who take their lives overseas to study, intern, work or just to explore. We address every phase of the experience from choosing where to go, to packing, to working through culture shock and reverse culture shock, and ultimately getting a job. We want to help people push past the boundaries of their comfort zones and make their mark.
The story behind how you ended up founding Indelible International is interesting: could you share it with us?
Sometimes the universe totally works in your favor. One of my classmates from undergrad, Sandra Alves, and I actually each came up with the idea for Indelible independently, but simultaneously. I was overseas in grad school and she was working for a non-profit in California. We had both studied abroad and were well aware of just how difficult it could be to find information specific to that experience (there’s a lot of stuff out there about being an ex-pat or a backpacker but not so much about being a 20-something international wayfarer).
I wanted to start a blog to share my experiences and help other students be successful and she wanted to start something much more business oriented. I returned to the states thinking of my website as a side project when Sandra called, told me what she had been working on and changed my life.
After a few months of research, writing, coding, and roping in friends to help out, we launched www.IndelibleINTL.com . Now, 6 months later, we’re getting ready to launch the full version of the site, complete with the World section dedicated to country specific information about the top study and intern abroad destinations, and we couldn’t be more excited.
What were your own experiences as a student abroad like? What was the most memorable aspect of your time overseas?
I always kind of dread this question because its so difficult to put what its like to study abroad into words. For me, studying abroad was fun, exciting, amazing, exceptionally stressful, and absolutely ridiculous. One of the most surprising aspects of studying abroad, was how removed it is from traveling and sightseeing. You have finals, papers, and commitments and the ability to explore is sort of just a side benefit.
The most memorable aspect of my time overseas would probably be all of the birthdays I’ve celebrated abroad. I’m pretty big on birthdays and I always seem to be overseas doing something weird when mine rolls around (which makes it all the more exciting). One year, while I was studying abroad in Tel Aviv, my friend came to visit me for his birthday and a group of us celebrated by sneaking off to Egypt to climb Mt. Sinai; it doesn’t get much better than that.
What is the most inspiring story you’ve had someone share with you as far as how they used your site or what they thought about it?
It’s always really nice to hear that we’ve helped someone navigate more than just the process of going abroad. Even though a lot goes into picking a program and where to go (and we’re more than happy to help), there’s so much more to going abroad than the logistics. One of our goals is to get people passed worrying about their flights and program fees so they can get around to having fun and really experiencing going abroad. That’s why so much of our site is dedicated to culture shock, health and fitness, safety, reverse culture shock, and the general business of being a young adult in a new place.
We have a feature on the site called “You ask, Indelible Answers” where we answer all types of questions from the Indelible Community. It’s been really rewarding to help people through issues that I remember experiencing. Sometimes the questions are light-hearted and simple and other times they’re terribly serious, we even helped one reader who was being scammed out of serious money while searching for a job overseas.
What is your top tip for anyone studying abroad?
Oh man, I guess… keep calm and carry on? Studying abroad is an amazing life experience because it’s both tremendously fun and terribly challenging. A lot of people have a hard time grasping that studying abroad isn’t a break from life, it is your life transported several thousand miles, plus a group of people you’ve never met, and minus everything you’re used to. Plenty of things are going to happen that you’re not prepared for and you have to learn to just roll with the punches.
Also, stay hydrated!
Indelible International recently partnered with Tripping to provide its community with a way to connect while traveling. What are you most looking forward to both individually as a Tripper and as far as the Indelible International community on Tripping?
Personally, I’m looking forward to hitting up trippers all over the world for coffee dates and comfortable couches to sleep on! I hope that our Indelible Community uses Tripping to connect with each other and with locals in their host-countries. You get so much more out of your experience abroad when you really spend time with locals and its amazing to have a resource like Tripping to help you do it.
Thank you Jordan for giving us a peek behind the Network!
Trippers, you can connect with Jordan via the Indelible International Network on Tripping.