Study Abroad Peer Mentors

Spring 2016 Peer Mentors
Come and meet our Study Abroad Peer Mentors!  They have all participated in a study abroad program and can help guide you through the decision-making process as well as share any tips about making the most of your experience abroad. To contact the Peer Mentors about a specific question, program, or just to hear their stories email: [email protected]!

Spring 2016 SMC Study Abroad Peer Mentors

 

Brittany Costa Name: Brittany Costa
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Rome, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was meeting and becoming best friends with people from around the world and traveling together. I was able to meet some incredible people who shared the same desire for adventure I have. Being with them was inspiring, talking with them was life-changing, and going places together was nothing less than exciting. It really is something special to find so much of myself in others. I was able to learn a lot about the kind of person I want to be, by surrounding myself with other people that were genuinely excited about life.  I am so proud and lucky to have gotten to experience Italy with some incredible people and now more than ever, I am motivated to be with them in Italy again and grow further into this international individual. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?  
I would advise any prospective study abroad students to take some time and plan out all the things you want to accomplish during their time abroad. Look into the places that inspire, things you want to see, foods you need to try. Take some time to prepare, it will get you familiar with where you are going and build your excitement. Also, take some time and go over some conversation phrases if you are in a country where English is not predominantly spoken. Knowing even a few words will get you familiar with the culture and help you feel included. Finally, form a budget that you are comfortable staying in the bounds of. I personally broke mine down into monthly expenditures and it helped with my planning and staying on track, without returning to the US in debt.
Marissa Jaskot Name: Marissa Jaskot
Major: Business Administration; Marketing
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Barcelona, Spain
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
Its hard to pick a specific experience that tops all others because everyday I had a new and breath taking experience. But when I was standing on a rock in Lagos, Portugal, about to jump into the Ocean for a cave adventure, I felt this moment of pure happiness and freedom, almost an inner peace, and I think that is something I will always remember. Besides Portugal, my heart will forever be in Barcelona because of the friendships I formed and the culture I experienced. There is nothing to compare to the beauty of Barcelona…the beach, Sangria, the people, and especially the food…I will forever miss Jamon.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?  
Three tips I would give to anyone before studying abroad… 1. Don't be scared to get out! Experience your new home! (BE BRAVE) 2. When you're in a new place or see something amazing, stop and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the moment 3. Enjoy yourself. These are the some of the best times in your life, so have fun!
Maren Jaspersen  Name: Maren Jaspersen
Major: Communication
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Rome, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
There are so many things that made Rome special, but the highlight of being abroad has to be the friends that I made while there. Going to Italy I was nervous about leaving my Saint Mary's circle and having to make a new group of friends in only a four month period. However once getting to Rome, I instantly connected with other students in my program because we were all in the same position-we were living in a foreign country and wanted to make the most of our time there! Despite the incredible things I was doing and seeing in Europe, they would have not been the same without the people I was experiencing all of these things with. I'm back in the United States and missing a lot from Rome, but it's my study abroad friends that I miss everyday.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?  
I advise future study abroad students to absorb as much of the culture as possible in their given country. Before leaving for Rome I imagined I would pick up the Italian language, make Italian friends, and "do as the Italians do." However, it was very easy to stay in an "American bubble" with my study abroad friends despite living in a country where the culture is vastly different. So, my advice is to push yourself outside your comfort zone because living in another country is a once in a lifetime experience!
Kaela Kinnare  Name: Kaela Kinnare
Major: Biology/Pre-Med
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Florence, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
I had so many highlights from living in Florence, Italy, but if I had to choose, one of my favorites was being able to travel almost every weekend. Traveling throughout Europe was easy and inexpensive and really helped me mature as an individual. Planning weekend trips or just to get away for a day became a habitual routine every week. The freedom to decide where to go on a whim was an incredible feeling. In my semester abroad, I traveled to 11 different countries and 46 cities. I tasted food from all over Europe, heard and “attempted” to speak the native tongue, and found myself immersed in so many different cultures. It is still crazy to think about how I was living in Florence, went to Greece for Spring break, traveled to both Hungary and Austria in one weekend, and backpacked through France, Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Brussels in my last two weeks abroad. The memories I had while living in Italy and traveling everywhere will remain with me forever. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
My first tip would advise students not to look at a map of their city before going abroad. Get to where you are studying abroad and get lost. You won’t regret it. I found so many cool places to hangout and so many great views by getting lost in Florence the first day I got there! My second tip would be to try to speak the language. I took an Italian conversation class before I left for Italy and it helped. Everyone in Florence spoke English, but Italians were so proud to hear students trying to speak their language, and some even helped me learn the language more. My last tip would be to enjoy the moments you have in the city you will be living in. Don’t get caught up in traveling all the time. On the weekends I stayed in Florence, I had just as much fun because I got to explore the city more and I found places that I never would have if I had been gone every single weekend. Enjoy your time abroad, as it goes quickly!
Emily Wood 

Name: Emily Wood
Major: Environmental Studies
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Melbourne, Australia

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
There were many highlights in my study abroad experience. My favorite memories were exploring new places with all of the friends I met while abroad. Some of the best trips we took were the most spontaneous trips. I really enjoyed seizing every opportunity that studying in a new place offered and sharing it with people who were just as eager to explore. Now I have friends from all over the world to visit and continue exploring!  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  • Budget… I would recommend looking at average prices of food and airfare before you go. It is helpful to know what you are going to spend while you still have time to save. 
  • Make sure to make the most of any opportunity you get! While abroad it is easy to stay with other people who are also new to the culture, but try to expand your horizons to befriend people from that country! So join clubs, go to local events, talk to your new classmates! 
  • Don’t Over communicate! Talking to folks back home is great! But if you are skyping with people from back home every night it can make you more homesick and make you miss out on amazing experiences! Make sure to be present in this experience to make the most of it!
Niki Bamford  Name: Niki Bamford
Major: Global Business
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Barcelona, Spain
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my time abroad was getting to experience so many different cultures in such a short amount of time. Throughout my six months abroad I travelled to 9 different countries in Europe. The food, the people, the language, the festivals, every part of it was incredible and so enriching. Anywhere you choose to go will be the most amazing experience, whether you are choosing a study abroad location or somewhere to travel to on the weekend. My personal favorite was of course Spain. I fell in love with everything about the country I was living in, to the point it feels more like home to me than the U.S. Taking the time to study and better understand the culture of the country you're living in is absolutely worth it. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1. Don't pack what you don't absolutely need, they will have some version of whatever you need in the country you are going to 2. Being abroad is an amazing experience. Push yourself to go out and experience as much as you can, the time you have there flies by. 3. Be patient, different cultures work in different ways.
  Robert Chappelle Name: Robert Chappelle
Major: Sociology
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Galway, Ireland
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
It’s hard to pick just one highlight from my time abroad, but if I were to pick one, I would have to say being able to see my Irish relatives. Being able to go to my family’s house was a great way for me to learn about my Irish roots, as well as be fully immersed in the Irish culture and way of life. I had the opportunity to eat some delicious homemade Irish food and watch hurling and Gaelic Football, two very popular sports in Ireland. Not to mention, I got to just relax and enjoy the slow paced and easygoing Irish lifestyle. Seeing my family in Ireland was an unreal experience that I will definitely never forget! 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Go into studying abroad with an open mind. Just go with the flow, don’t stress over not having a plan or agenda. Explore and try everything! Now is the time to embrace new experiences.
Olivia Meme  Name: Olivia Meme
Major: Communication Major, Psychology Minor
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  London, England
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
TThe biggest highlight of my experience was living in one of the most diverse and culturally rich cities in the world. London is such an incredibly historic yet modern, one-of a kind bustling city, and even living there for five months didn't give me enough time to explore everything. It's an unforgettable feeling to live somewhere that has always seemed so far away and after a few short months, feel like a native.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Go for a year! Or, at least be aware of dates and deadlines if you want to apply for another semester abroad. I wanted to stay for a year, but decided that too late and missed the deadlines. Never stop making friends. It's like the first week of college all over again - everyone wants people to go do things with. Most importantly, keep an open mind! With a new city comes new experiences, and there's never a better time to say yes.
Ramsey Schmitt
 
Name: Ramsey Schmitt
Major: International Area Studies - Europe
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Berlin, Germany 
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was definitely learning the language and getting to learn about the culture in Germany. I enjoyed every night sitting down around the TV with my host parents and speaking German. I enjoyed so much learning about what Germany is to them, and why they have both grown up and stayed in such an amazing city like Berlin. I got very close to them and depended on them a lot for their opinions on things like where to travel, how to handle problems I was having to adjusting to life in a foreign country, and what are some things that I need to be sure to do before going back home. Being able to communicate so well with them definitely gave me an huge advantage in the long run looking back on it now, and I am so happy that I took the time to listen and learn. Sharing experiences from different parts of the world is absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences I took away from being abroad, because it gives you a broader view of the world. For example, even though I only traveled in Europe, I feel like I know tons more about Eastern Europe and the Middle East than ever before as well. Having gotten to hear about so many of of my friends’ stories from traveling the world, I can truly say that what I have gained from study abroad is so much more than a couple pounds and a new love for beer. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Three tips I would give anyone before studying abroad are: First and foremost, do NOT go in to it with any expectations. I had been to Germany before and had a totally different experience than the one I had studying there. I made up my mind to wipe the slate clean before I went abroad again, and it was one of the best decisions I made. Sometimes seeing the same place a few years later for the second time can even make it more beautiful! Secondly, I would highly recommend researching the place you might be going to before landing there, just so you know what type of lifestyle and atmosphere it is there. I didn’t do this and I would have really benefitted from it. For example, Berlin reminds me a lot of giant Berkeley, and although it was not that I was disappointed in figuring this out, I just would have liked to know a little more what to expect as far as the people I would find there instead of being so out of place and surprised about it. Lastly, I would say to not forget that this is a crazy cool opportunity, and I have not met someone that studied abroad that didn’t like it. If you have any fears about it, just know that everyone is a little scared even if they don’t admit it, and THAT’S OK. I felt like I was the only one on the planet that was leaving my home and going to some foreign place, and boy was I proved wrong when the first person I met when I got to school in Berlin was a girl that grew up in Concord, CA. I can bet there will always be people that are in the same boat as you wherever you may be going to, so just stick out the scary parts because the experience is entirely worth it.
Carmen Terlaje  Name: Carmen Terlaje
Major: Global and Regional Studies with a Concentration in Social Justice
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Tokyo, Japan 
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
To study abroad and travel the world is to become a part of a culture distinct than your own. During my Spring Semester, I was given the opportunity to study in Tokyo, Japan at Sophia University. Not knowing the language or the cultural customs, made every experience noteworthy. I enjoyed meeting new people, both exchange international students and local Japanese students. Trying to converse with my basic Japanese, proved to be another memorable experience. The highlights of my trip include visiting famous landmarks in Tokyo, like Skytree and Tokyo Disney, and indulging in Tokyo cuisine, like sushi, ramen, and okonomyaki. Whether it was watching Sumo, or visiting nearby Temples, having Tokyo life in my backyard was filled with adventure. But the most challenging and rewarding moment of my study abroad experience was volunteering with the Sophia Volunteer Program. As part of this program, we traveled to Tohoku, in the Sendai region that was devastated by the 2011 tsunami. Here a group of Japanese students and I, engaged with kids whose families were affected by the tsunami and who lived in temporary housing. It was eyeopening to see the effects of the devastation that are still felt today, as entire communities have started to rebuild. In the Mikasa Room, there is hope as the children play and learn together. Not being able to communicate with these kids created a physical language barrier, but eventually through persistence and encouragement, I was able to communicate with my actions. I learned much about myself and the world around me, and it is an experience I will never forget. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
As you begin the journey of a lifetime, don't forget a few things! First, don't forget to save up before leaving. Taking the time to make sure you have some extra spending money for that extra souvenir or next bowl of ramen is crucial to ensuring you make the most of your experience. I know in my case, I was able to receive a scholarship that covered many of my expenses, keep your eyes peeled for those. Second, plan ahead. Look up some neat places you want to see when you get to your study abroad location and be ready to make those trips possible! But don't be afraid of changing your plans once you get there. And finally, don't forget to have fun amidst all the logistics stay calm and positive! Take every day one step at a time and enjoy every moment of it, the visa application process, the anticipation before your flight. Enjoy ever moment because before you know it you'll be homesick for your home abroad.
Daisy Guardado  Name: Daisy Guardado
Major: Justice, Community and Leadership 
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Sevilla, Spain
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
My study abroad experience was filled with weekend trips to different countries, volunteer work, and many, many coffee shop trips. However, one of my favorite highlights was being part of Feria. Feria is a week-long traditional festival, usually 2 weeks after Holy Week, to celebrate life and Sevillan culture. Sevillans dress up, eat, drink and dance for a whole week and everyone is invited to participate. I was very fortunate to be a part of this celebration of culture. It was the first time I felt like this distance place was my home. In a short few months, I was able to immerse myself into another country. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
. Take time at least once a week to enjoy the city you study in! Walk around the streets, visit markets and museums, and talk to locals. 2. When traveling travels to another cities, plan out a rough schedule of your trip. It can save you a lot of time, money and hassle, if you have an idea of what you want to see in experience in the new city. 3. Be open to trying and experiencing new things! You don’t want to leave your trip with regrets! Have fun! Enjoy your time abroad.
Makenna Walls  Name: Makenna Walls
Major: Global Business
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Florence, Italy 
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
Studying abroad was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I met so many great people, some of who I know will be life long friends. It’s hard to narrow down to one highlight but I think my top is family dinners with my roommates. I lived with 4 other girls and we set up a schedule so that everyone would have a night to cook. We made a point to have dinner all together every night during the week because we didn’t always travel together on the weekends. Family dinners really made us closer and I don’t think I have laughed so much in my life. It was such a great way for us all to bond and share our experiences. I really cherish those nights.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1- Travel! I traveled most weekends while I was abroad but I also made time during the week to explore Florence. Florence was by far my favorite place I visited and I think a lot of that is because I was really able to call it home. Some days after class I would just wander around the city and every time I would find something new. Seeing all different cities was amazing but there is something very special about truly calling another place your home 2- Save your Core Curriculum classes for study abroad. It is so much easier to take all core curriculum classes abroad than it is to take your major. For one thing they are easier to find and transfer back, second it makes you less stressed. I was able to use some of my extra classes to take a wine appreciation class and a special event management class, both of which are not offered at Saint Mary’s. They were my favorite classes because I got to try new things and didn’t have to focus on my major for one semester. 3- Try new things, especially food. Don’t be afraid of any experience. I got to try fried sea urchin in Seville and even though I would probably never have it again it was definitely an experience. All the new things you try are the things you will remember the most. 
  Megan Molavi Name: Megan Molavi
Major: English
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  London, England
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
If I’m being honest, my entire time in England was the highlight of my study abroad experience. It had been my goal to live in London for the better part of a decade and to actually explore the city of my dreams was the most incredible moments of my life. More specifically, I don’t think my time abroad would have been the same without the people I lived with. Those eight wonderful humans became some of my best friends and they were instrumental making my adventures abroad spectacular. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?  
One of the hardest things about studying abroad, at least in England, is the exchange rate. For every dollar, I only received sixty-six pence and that made buying anything very, very expensive. I would definitely advise saving up money and making a plan of how much to spend each month. Additionally, look up the weather for the months you’ll be abroad so you can plan what clothes to bring. England winter is NOT California winter. Lastly, while abroad, try to say, “Yes!” to as many adventures as you can, especially if they are outside your comfort zone. Some of the best memories I have come from agreeing to something I would never have done back home.
Aurelia Moulin  Name: Aurelia Moulin
Major: Performing Arts: Technical Theatre and Design
Class Standing: GRADUATED
Study Abroad Location:  Florence, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was being able to really know Italy. I was unique in that I didn’t leave the country, and I don’t regret it one bit. I got to visit small towns like Assisi and Perugia, and live like the locals. I loved being able to walk down the street to the local market, and forming relationships with the vendors who worked there. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Explore!! I knew a few people who just wouldn’t go and explore their own cities, so by the end even though they had traveled to multiple countries, they didn’t have much to say about their host city, which is a real shame. Learn the language. Even if its only a few key phrases, the local really appreciate when you try to speak their language (even though they usually like to practice their English most of the time!) Don’t worry about packing everything you own into one suitcase. More than likely you are going to a big city where they have basic necessities. They may not have your specific brand shampoo, but you will learn to adapt. Plus then it forces you to live like the locals!
Jesslin Wooliver  Name: Jesslin Wooliver
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Cape Town, South Africa
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my experience in Cape Town was being surrounded by such crazy political, social, and economic issues, and the conversations I was able to have about these issues. Locals from South Africa and its surrounding countries had such interesting things to say about what is going on, but on top of that I was also able to learn from the conversations I had with fellow Americans, about how relevant the racial tension in South Africa is to the issues we have here in the U.S. Coming back from Cape Town I have an entirely new perspective on race and am much more aware of how problematic it still is. People in Cape Town are in tune to what is going on in their country, and they care about the direction that it takes. Americans do not have such a passion; I will miss that the most!  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Making friends with the other students on your program is great and a lot of fun, but also make a conscious effort to break out of the American “bubble” when you can, learning the local perspective is more rewarding in the end! Be open minded and ready for new experiences, ideas, and ways of thinking. Reflect on your experience as you go along, making changes to your priorities if needed. 
Danielle Stuart  Name: Danielle Stuart
Major: Communication
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Melbourne, Australia 
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
One highlight during my study abroad experience was the ability to explore different parts of Australia. I love to travel, even if it was to be wandering around the city I was studying in. Melbourne was constantly holding events in the city; there was always a new festival to attend or restaurant I wanted to visit. I definitely developed a coffee shop addiction while I was in Melbourne. I went to Sydney on my week long break where I met up with my father and sisters. We visited the iconic Sydney Opera house and Harbour Bridge, spent the day at the zoo, got a little lost and wound up at a beautiful beach of Manly, and one of my favorite memories was visiting the Royal National Park. The coastal hike was absolutely stunning, unlike any hiking trail I have ever explored. Before I returned back home, I visited the tropics of Cairns. There I snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef and zip lined and went rafting through the luscious rainforest. Studying abroad was an incredible experience altogether! 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Try to save as much money as you think you would like to have abroad. My school did not have a meal plan and it was already a little bit more expensive in Australia (but the conversation rate is in our favor!) That way you don’t have to worry as much about debating on activities you would like to do! Don’t forget to explore the city you chose to study in. Traveling is always an amazing thing; however, try to spend enough time in the city you chose to go to! There is always somewhere new to go. Keep an open mind and be sensitive to cultural differences. It is important to remember that you will encounter people from all parts of the world and our daily routines could be extremely different from one another. Try to consider these changes to be “different” rather than “wrong”.
  Jessica Fahner  
Name:
 Jessica Fahner
Major: Communication, French Minor
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Aix-en-Provence, France
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of studying abroad was the food! Living in France definitely made me appreciate the quality of food I eat. The market was my favorite place to go during lunch; everything was always so fresh. Staying with a host family allowed me to really immerse myself in the culture and I got to eat exactly how the everyday French eat. I also got to try all sorts of local cuisine and traditional plates when I travelled to other cities. The craziest thing I tried was mussels covered in cheese, and it was delicious!  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Try and speak the language! You’ll really benefit from it, and the locals will love that you’re trying to speak their native language. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s inevitable that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes adjusting to life abroad and getting familiar with new social norms. Keep an open mind. Living in a foreign country can be extremely different from your life in America; try and go with the flow!
Alexandra Curry  Name: Alexandrea Curry
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Florence, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was volunteering through FUA. I helped run the front of the bakery and coffee shop at my school. This experience forced me out of my comfort zone, but it really connected me with the locals in Florence. I learned how to greet people in Italian and I also learned how charge money to people in Italian. My time as a volunteer helped me to immerse myself into Italian culture. After a few weeks of volunteering, I would see the customers I had served on the street and they would recognize me and say hi. I became friends with more Italians during my volunteering time than the whole time I studied abroad. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1.Learn the etiquette and customs of the country you are going to study at. This helps you to adjust to the culture more and it also helps you to understand why people do what they do. 2.Save up as much money as you can for travel and food! 3.Explore your own city as much you can. It’s exciting to visit other countries, but it’s really beneficial to get to know the place you are living in, and it also helps you to appreciate the city more. 
Morgan Faulkner  Name: Morgan Faulkner
Major: Business Administration
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  London, United Kingdom
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
My highlight of the study abroad experience was being able to perform with the dance company at the University in London. At the Freshers Fair there were hundreds of booths that new students were able to explore, and dance was the one that I was glad I found. After auditioning and making it, I was able to meet some of the best people from around the world. I was able to immerse myself in something that I am passionate about in a place that I was able to further explore with my new team! 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
There is so much that you learn from your study abroad experience. One of the big tips that I would say is to go in with an open mind, try not to have expectations because what you experience is so much better than you could ever imagine. Second, I would say try new things, that’s what this experience is for! Try new food, go to a new place, or practice a new language, it will really open your eyes to other perspectives of the world. Lastly, I would say to have fun, you are there for school but let loose and find the hidden treasures of the city you are in! 
Joselyn Fillman  Name: Joselyn Fillman
Major: English
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Dublin, Ireland
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
In retrospect, my study abroad experience feels like a reel of best highlights. My four months in Ireland were the busiest, quickest, hardest, and most rewarding of my life. If I had to pick a highlight, it would be the moment that I realized I had made the right decision in coming to Ireland. I took a trip across the island to Galway, a small Irish town on the west side. I remember specifically a moment standing on a pier above the water. It was sunny and raining, something that happens a lot in Ireland. The waves were wild, the air smelled like salt and seaweed, and a rainbow framed the town perfectly. The grass was greener than you can imagine, the sky bluer. I felt light and calm, and any fears or anxieties I was harboring about being 5,000 miles away from everything I knew faded away. You’ll have the same moment during your travels, the moment you realize you have more than one home now.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Learn about the country you’ll be studying in. Research the culture, the people, the best places to visit and eat and explore. The more you know before your plane lands, the more comfortable you will be and the quicker you’ll adjust to your new home away from home. Also research the education system you’re entering – chances are it will be very different from SMC and having some foresight will lessen the blow. Traveling as much and as far as possible is enticing while abroad, but try to really explore the country you’re living in. All my best memories are from trips around Ireland. You picked your country for a reason, make the most of it. Take pictures, save ticket stubs, buy the silliest souvenirs, write it all down, and make as many new friends as you can. These months will go by in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it more than you can imagine. Bring what you can home with you.
  Joahna Cervantes  
Name: Joahna Cervantes
Major: Political Science
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Seville, Spain
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my time in Sevilla was walking through the historic city center everyday. At the beginning of the semester I participated in an intensive course offered by the program that allowed me to visit the cites and learn the history behind the city. Each building had its story and being able to appreciate it made my experience more memorable. There wasn’t a day I took those views for granted. There would be random moments when I would just sit on a bench and watch the locals and tourist intertwine. Walking through the streets almost felt unreal sometimes, like if you were walking through a movie set based on a different time era. Having the ability to appreciate the particular architecture of Sevilla helped me understand its significants to the rest of Spain. A city as cultured as it has so much to offer any college student that decides to study abroad. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Try to go out of your comfort zone (reasonably). Being in a new city with new people can sometimes be intimidating but you’ll discover new things about yourself if you branch out. Find a buddy and stick with them. When traveling to a new foreign country or just going out on the town, find someone that has similar plans and stick to them. You’ll feel safer and company is always nice! Appreciate the history/culture the city has to offer. Though partying all through Europe is fun, make most of your visits to any city by seeing cites and/or museums. You’ll never be in that city at that moment in your life again so take advantage of the things that make the city unique. Remember a lot cites/museums offer student discounts so bring your ID! 
  Tsarina Claver Name: Tsarina Secyugu Claver
Major: Global Business
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Aix-en-Provence, France
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The second weekend I was in France a group of 11 students that I met in my program and I planned a trip to Cannes. None of us knew each other very well but we all had some classes together and seemed to get along. That was one of the best weekends of my life. We spent over 10 hours at the beach that weekend and got put up in the most beautiful AirBnB. We all cooked together, listened to music, and got to know each other really well in such a small amount of time. Now that I’m back those people are still some of my very best friends. One of them is coming to stay with me for Spring break and I talk to them in a group chat every single day. Taking that leap to go on a trip with basically strangers was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I now have lifelong friends because of it.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Put yourself out there and break away from your school group! There is absolutely nothing wrong with traveling abroad with friends or a large group from SMC but once you arrive I cannot stress enough how important it is to find your own way and make new friends! Get a job in the summer and save EVERYTHING. Yes traveling around while abroad can be relatively cheap, but those expenses will add up very quickly. So either bring a credit card that you are able to pay off later or save as much as you possibly can. I promise it will save you and your parents a lot of stress while you’re away. Have an open mind and try not to have to many preconceived ideas about what your experience will be like. Be excited and remember to live in the moment!
Ali Christensen
 
Name: Ali Christensen 
Major: English
Class Standing: Junior 
Study Abroad Location:  Rome, Italy
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
Making the friends that I did when I studied in Rome was the absolute highlight of my study abroad experience! Going into study abroad, I was anxious about meeting new people, being in a foreign place, and moving into an apartment with complete strangers. Despite these fears, I truly made the best friends with the girls I lived with, which made my experience so memorable and rewarding. By being open to meeting new people, I let myself connect with my roommates and other amazing people whom I traveled with, which also made my study abroad experience so unforgettable! 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
Leave your comfort zone by branching out from the St. Mary’s circle of friends. Trust me it will be worth it! You’ll meet amazing people if you open up to other people from other schools and also natives of the country you are studying in. Go with the flow. You never know what amazing experiences you’ll encounter if you are open to new things! Be respectful of the ways/traditions of the country you are studying in. The country that you are studying in may be completely different than America (like Italy!) so it is important to adapt to the ways of the natives and be tolerant even though it may be unfamiliar and even uncomfortable at times. You’ll grow to love and really respect the culture!
  Nicole Potepa Name: Nicole Potepa
Major: Business Administration - Global
Class Standing: Junior 
Study Abroad Location:  London, England
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
It’s difficult to answer this question considering there were so many in all different contexts. Learning about different cultures and consistently hearing multiple languages was incredible in itself. Every city or town had its’ own unique touches and having the opportunity to indulge in every exceptional dish or new phrase definitely played a large role during my time abroad. Accepting that getting lost was almost inevitable made it all the more fun, and the memories I created with those I met along the way are ones that will last a lifetime. A particular bittersweet moment I had was when a few friends were visiting me, and I had brought them to the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. It was in that moment I felt London had become my city. It was wonderful recognizing how well I had gotten to know the area and how I had crossed a path so many times in a place that once had been so unfamiliar to me, and suddenly felt right at home. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1. Don’t have any expectations! - Everything that is meant to be will happen. I find it important to realize that studying abroad is a different experience for everyone! This goes for not only traveling to different destinations, but one’s classes and workload as well. Keep a positive mindset, see as much as possible, but stay on top of your studies! 2. Take a course outside of your major - Take one that interests you and meets graduation or Core Curriculum requirements! I had never been a fan of horror films, but taking a British Horror Film Class although at times was frightening, was one of the best decisions I made abroad. It was easily one of the most interesting classes I have taken, and I learned so much. Break out of your shell! 3. Planes wait for no one! - The wanderlust is real, but so is your budget and your time. Be productive and make brief plans for the cities you want to visit. Meet as many people as you can, and wake up early and explore! Your time wherever you are is temporary, at least for now. Make the most of every adventure and have fun! 
Ines Sosa  Name: Ines Sosa
Major: Politics & Spanish
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Seville, Spain
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience were the times I went up to the roof of my house and looked out at the amazing view of Sevilla. These moments gave me the time to stop and think of how lucky I was to be where I was, doing what I was doing. Whether it be sunrise, sunset, or in the middle of the day, every time I went up there I saw something new I hadn’t noticed before and it was a constant reminder of how much there was for me to explore. That view is something I will never forget and I am glad I was able to enjoy it many times, both with friends and by myself.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1) Although keeping a budget is important, don’t let it limit what you do. 2) Never say no to a new adventure; sometimes the spontaneous ones are the most memorable. 3) Keep a journal!
Ollie Maggi  Name: Ollie Maggi 
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Galway, Ireland
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight was probably just experiencing a new adventure everyday and not really knowing who you were going to meet or anything the country had in store for you. It was awesome hopping on a plane within 2 hours of buying the ticket, staying out at pubs all night meeting locals, and seeing some of the prettiest sights in the world.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1) Have no expectations going into it, just take it a day at a time and don’t try and force your experience 2) Know that other countries are not like America. Not in their general culture, their schooling, or even the kind of people you meet. You will feel completely out of your comfort zone and that’s ok 3) Do it. Whether its exactly what you expect it to be or not, it will be an experience you wont regret having tried.
Samantha Schultz  Name: Samantha Schultz 
Major: Astrophysics
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  London, UK
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
It’s hard to pick just one highlight from my trip. I think I’d have to say that the best part about being in London was how easy it was to travel whether I was staying in the UK or going to another country. Make use of trains, buses, boats, and planes. Being able to travel so easily was absolutely incredible and I got to see some things that I’ve read about or seen in movies and to see them in person absolutely takes your breath away. As a Harry Potter fan, living in London for three months gave me plenty of opportunities to see some of the places they filmed the movies.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1.Take time to explore the city you live in. Europe is an incredible place and there so much to see, but make sure you spend time exploring around you. Go to museums, markets, all the tourist stuff, go out to eat, talk to locals. Being comfortable and familiar in the city you’re living in will make your time there so much better and you’ll know all the best spots when you go back! 2.Don’t be afraid to go out and do things! Being in a new city in a new country can be really overwhelming, but get out and do things. The more you go out the easier it is. This goes for exploring the city you live in as well as traveling out of the country. 3.Pack all your stuff, then take about a third to half of that stuff out of your suitcase. Pack practically; pack for the climate where you’re going, pack what you’ll actually need, don’t over pack. You don’t want to get stuck buying another suitcase or having to leave all the souvenirs you bought behind because your bags are too heavy. 
  Casey Stuart Name: Casey Stuart
Major: Digital Media
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Melbourne, Australia
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my trip was definitely the amount of festivals that happened during the time I was there. I was able to enjoy these festivals with new friends that I had made. I loved being able to go on spontaneous trips for the weekend and doing something different every weekend. No matter where you go there is always something new to like new art galleries or new museum exhibits. This trip was amazing and something I will never forget.  
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1.Take advantage of three day weekends- plan in advance with friends on where you should go. Have a list in mind on where you want to go and plan strategically. Most importantly, have a budget on how much you want to spend. Booking tours in advance will definitely help you save! 2.Keep an open mind- try to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. There is so much to do and something once in a lifetime opportunities! Make the most out of your time. 3.Wander- don’t always plan your days out hour per hour, take the time to just wander the streets and stumble on new cafes, art galleries, and enjoy the scenery! 
Whitney Besser  Name: Whitney Besser 
Major: Communications, minor in French
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Aix-en-Provence, France
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was staying with my host mom. She is the sweetest person I have ever met and can proudly call her my second mother. Every morning, I would wake up and see a fresh batch of delicious cookies waiting for me on the table. I thanked her the first morning, thinking that she made the batch because it was my first day in France. As the mornings came, so did the cookies. A new type everyday: Nutella, chocolate chip, white chocolate lavender, oatmeal raisin, and the list goes on. She previously owned a restaurant, so my dinner was a new dish from her menu every night. She took time out of her busy schedule to prepare a delicious dinner every night for me and my roommate. At dinner, we would talk for an hour or two about anything and everything. My host mom only spoke French, so dinner was the time when I really learned the French language. I took all of my classes abroad in French, but I felt like I learned more French from our dinner conversations. She truly cared about me and always checked in with me everyday to see how I was doing. My experience wouldn’t be the same without her and it is comforting that I will always have a second home in Aix-en-Provence. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1. Save your money before you go abroad! I was a nanny before I went abroad and saved up for all the trips that I wanted to go on. I had extra money in my bank account incase of emergencies and it was very useful! 2. Meet the locals! Break out of your shell and immerse yourself in the culture. I improved my French a lot by just talking to locals at bars and restaurants. 3. Go to your local market to buy food and different goodies! Not only will you save money but you will also taste amazing, cultural foods. 
  Gael Name: Tara Knight
Major: Economics
Class Standing: Junior
Study Abroad Location:  Galway, Ireland
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
It is hard to pick on specific highlight from my study abroad experience. However, one of my favorite parts was travelling throughout Europe and Ireland. Before my abroad experience I had only been to Europe once. Yet, since I travelled abroad I feel I truly understand different countries cultures and landscapes. I have seen countless beautiful countries and feel connected to Irish culture. Study abroad has made me more aware of diverse cultures and citizens. 
What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
After spending a semester abroad I have three tips that I would like give students who are about to start there study abroad experience. One is to be open minded to new experiences. Going into a new country is scary but if one is too close minded they won’t get the best out of their experience. Another tip is to travel throughout their own country. Finally, my last tip is that home sicknesses will probably happen, but it will be okay. Homesickness will pass and the experience will always be worth the initial shock.