Study Abroad 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: smcpeermentor@gmail.com!

Fall 2020 SMC Study Abroad Peer Mentors

 

Marilyn

Seville, Spain

Name: Marilyn Sosa
Major: Psychology  Minor: Women & Gender Studies
Class Standing: Junior
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my experience was being able to build a connection with my host family, meeting some of the most amazing people I know, and developing a lifelong love for the city I studied in.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?

  1. Save up money the semester beforehand!
  2. Spend time getting to know your city; Don't be afraid to go out alone and explore. 
  3. Take advantage of the events that your program offers, most of them are free or at a discounted price for students!

Contact Marilyn

Katrina

London, England

Name: Katrina Culp
Major: Communications  Minor: Women & Gender Studies
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester 

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

Some of the highlights of my experience include how much self growth I went through and discoveries I made about myself and the world around me. I met some of the most incredible people and made life long friends that opened my eyes to all new experiences and perspectives. I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, hear their stories and understand different cultures. I gained a lot of self confidence traveling Europe on my own. I got a better understanding of what was really important in life all while seeing the most incredible places I have ever had the privilege of 
seeing. 

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?

  1. Be authentically yourself! This is a time for you to start over and not worry about anything from the past. You get the chance to reinvent yourself! Take this time to completely put yourself out there and be as outgoing as you can! The more you put yourself out there, the more amazing people you will meet and memories you will create. 
  2. Try new things. Whether it’s food, or activities, new hobbies, new experiences. You might get to experience something you never have before! Always take the opportunity to go out with friends and meet new people! Be as open as possible! 
  3. Don’t compare your experience to others because what you are experiencing is unique and you want to appreciate it for everything it has to offer. And always try to be in the moment and take everything in because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Contact Katrina

Jose Murillo
 

Seville, Spain

Name: Jose Murillo
Major: International Business
Class Standing: Class of 2020
Duration: Academic Year 2018-2019

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my study experience was being able to meet fellow travelers that had similar passions to either learn in a different environment or to see the world. 

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Don't be afraid to travel alone. Traveling with friends is fun but I think everyone should experience traveling alone since you'll learn about yourself. It is very liberating to set your own schedule. 
  2. Know what you want to do and do it. Before traveling, research the place you want to visit, learn some history, even look up movie scene locations in your specific destination.
  3. Get to know the city you're living in. A unique thing about studying abroad is the opportunity to live in a completely different environment outside of Moraga. I was able to learn about the cultural history of Sevilla by talking to people who lived there and exploring the city. 

Contact Jose

Emily

Barcelona, Spain (NON-SMC PROGRAM)

Name: Emily Van Liedekerke 
Major: Women & Gender Studies/ JCL Minor: Spanish
Class Standing: Class of 2018
Duration: Academic Year 2017-2018

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

During my time in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to create a new day each day. I explored the architecture, ate my way through the city, got lost in the tiny streets, swam in the Mediterranean, and so much more. I immersed myself in the Catalan and Spanish culture and Spanish language by living in both a homestay and Residencia while taking Spanish classes. Being abroad, I traveled to new cities in Europe (Prague was my favorite trip), met people from around the world, and grew as an individual.   

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Go outside of your comfort zone and keep an open mind when planning your study abroad experience- choose a place you didn’t expect to go, staying longer than you expected, or live in a homestay or residence with international students. Then, use this attitude for when you are abroad because it’ll help you plan amazing trips, make lifelong friendships, learn a language, and explore different cultures.
  2. Always ask for help. It can be difficult to figure out logistics for your study abroad experience all by yourself so ask questions along the way. Moreover, when abroad, it’s important to ask for help if you’re in an uncomfortable or difficult situation because they could be fixed. It’s so much better to speak up!
  3. I also want to recommend that everyone pack less than they think they need. I overpacked (big time) and I regretted it because after spending a year in Europe I had a lot of extra clothes, gifts, and souvenirs. I had to buy an extra suitcase and traveling home was difficult!

Contact CIP Office

maya

Florence, Italy

Name: Maya Marquez
Major: Allied Health Science
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Spring Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

One of my highlights was getting to know the owner of my favorite gelateria, La Carraia. The owner always remembered my apartment-mates and I. He was always so funny and nice which made it a bittersweet goodbye.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?

  1. Try everything! New foods, new studying techniques, new hobbies, and just go for it!
  2. Keep an open mind and be adaptable. Going to a new country can bring a couple, unforeseen mishaps but it's okay! You can do it!
  3. Don’t forget about homeowrk and studying! The best way to still do well in school and immerse yourself in the culture is to find a local study spot. This could be at a local cafe or library!

Contact Maya

kiera

Barcelona, Spain

Name: Kiera Armintrout
Major: Business Administration & Economics Minor: Math
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Spring Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my abroad experience was the overall growth I saw within myself, which I credit to a variety of people that I met. Because I was in an exchange program, the majority of the people I met were international. I became close friends with students from Scotland, France, Mexico, and Peru. Through this, my thoughts and beliefs were challenged as I began to truly grasp the size of the world. I became exposed to so much more and changed in many positive ways.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad?

  1. Have some goals, such as traveling, meeting new people, taking the chance to recreate yourself. 
  2. Keep a journal! It is an amazing way to reflect back on everything and cherish the memories
  3. Finally, say yes to everything! This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so push yourself to try new things.

Contact Kiera

Emma
 

Aix-En-Provence, France

Name: Emma Pell
Major: JCL & French
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The biggest highlight was living with a host family.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Start thinking about it and planning with your advisor early.
  2. Make sure you know all of your host country's visa requirements.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask questions to CIP about your program, everyone wants to help

Contact Emma

GM London, England

Name: Gabby Mitchell
Major: Women & Gender Studies
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Spring Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

Getting to live in London every day and experience all that it had to offer made me excited to wake up everyday because there was always some new place to explore.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Don't be nervous, it will all be okay.
  2. Don't stress about school.
  3. Have fun & enjoy yourself!

Contact Gabby

Ryan

San Jose, Costa Rica

Name: Ryan Ramirez
Major: Allied Health Science
Class Standing: Senior 
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my study abroad experience was getting to travel the whole country with some of my best friends! Laying on the beach and jumping into waterfalls every weekend was so fun!  

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Ask as many questions to many people as possible. It is important to hear things and experiences from different points of view.
  2. Be open-minded and excited. Don't be afraid to travel on the weekends and go on day trips with all of the new people you meet. 
  3. Use your onsite staff & host family (if you have one) as valuable resources. They know the area and can help you with things like cheap grocery stores.

Contact Ryan

Isabel

Melbourne, Australia

Name: Isabel Kent
Major: Biology
Class Standing: Senior 
Duration: Fall Semester 

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my experience abroad was learning to live and travel alone. In a safe country with easy public transportation like Australia, I had the opportunity to live, learn, and explore by myself at my own pace. I made friends with people from all over the world at my host university, but my favorite memories were the places I got to see and people I met on my own time while traveling.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Register for classes that fit your major or core, but that are unique enough that you couldn’t take them at SMC.
  2. Budget before you arrive so you can enjoy every moment without worrying financially.
  3. Pack light, then when you arrive, see how much you can thrift or borrow from other students, especially before making any big purchases.

Contact Isabel

Sam

Rome, Italy

Name: Samantha "Sam" Nieves 
Major: Business Administration: Finance & Global Business
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

Integrating myself into the city of Rome and getting to know the local culture. Also traveling almost every weekend to a new country with friends.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Always bring your student ID! Many museums or historical sites offer discounts or free entry if you show them your ID. Also, do your research on museums and historical sites that you want to see. Many have free days that are promoted.
  2. Always do your homework the day it's assigned. You have to remember that you are studying abroad. This means that you still have to go to school and there is work that comes along with it. It’s better to go on a trip without having to worry about school work once you arrive back from your trip. You will not be motivated to do work once you come back from a long day of traveling.
  3. Don’t be scared to ask for help. There are so many resources that you have while you're abroad. If you need help in a class, need someone to talk to, or just need advice when traveling, there are many people that are there to help you.

Contact Sam

Jenny

Rome, Italy

Name: Jennifer "Jenny" Rinefort
Major: Communications & Dance
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Spring Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my study abroad experience was traveling to places that I dreamed of visiting! I had the privilege to have memorable experiences and meet incredible people in beautiful cities all over Europe! For the months leading up to my semester abroad, I spoke to almost everyone I knew and asked them where they would travel to in Europe if they had the chance. I took all of their advice and made a list of cities I wanted to check off. There were 2 places that I didn’t get to check off, so now I have a good excuse to go back someday!

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Be smart about what you pack.
  2. Save as much money as you can ahead of traveling.
  3. Make a bucket list of what you'd want to do abroad.

Contact Jenny

Noah

Rome, Italy

Name: Noah Moretti
Major: Business Administration
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my study abroad experience was traveling Italy from North to South, especially Sicily. I got to walk the streets of my family's mountain village: Caltabellotta and Sicily. Also, everyone I was abroad with was genuine and eager to explore!

 What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Take a walking class
  2. Find your favorite cafe and befriend the barista
  3. Make sure you take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be abroad

Contact Noah

gigi

Rome, Italy

Name: Giselle "Gigi" Espinola-Jimenez
Major: Philosophy
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester

What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

The highlight of my study abroad experience was traveling to different countries because I have never been to Europe. I also loved having my own apartment because I got to cook for myself and I got to practice my Italian when I would grocery shopping!

 What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 

  1. Be open and prepared to see different customs and food
  2. I f you're able to, take a language class about your country's native language
  3. Take time to truly explore and roam around the city you're staying in

Contact Gigi