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 2017 SMC Study Abroad Peer Mentors

 

 

Aix-en-Provence

Name: Marie Osmena
Major: Business Administration - Marketing Concentration major; French minor
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Academic Year
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

Immersion into the culture and meeting new people.

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

1) RESEARCH.RESEARCH.RESEARCH.

2) Pack light

3) Talk to previous study abroad students that attended your university abroad

Bridgit Lee

Berlin, Germany & Dublin, Ireland

Name: Bridgit Lee
Major: Anthropology/Archaeology
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Academic Year
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

Football game for Berlin?

For Dublin . . . caving club? Pubs?

One of the many highlights of my study abroad experience was when I got to see a professional football (soccer) match in Berlin. It was Hertha BSC (the local Berlin Bundesliga team) versus Borussia Monchengladbach. Football is such a cultural phenomenon in Europe and I have been a fan for years so it was fantastic to get to attend a match while I was there. The stadium was absolutely wild and you really feel like a part of the crowd when you are there screaming yourself horse with all the local fans and trying to follow the chants. The game ended 3-0 with Hertha winning. Which only made the fans scream harder. It was such a great cultural experience and I was blessed to be able to follow it up with some rugby matches in Ireland. I saw Leinster in Dublin and Connacht in Galway. Both games were amazing and it was so great to scream for the local team with all of my friends over a pint of Guinness.

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

Learn about the country before you go. It will help when you plan trips to see more of it and really impresses the locals.

Find a favourite café in your city and become a regular. I did this in Dublin and I ended up meeting quite a few people sitting there reading for classes.

Don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions. Sometimes you get into a weird situation like not knowing where toothpaste is sold. That is okay! Ask your host family or a local friend. It is a great way to start a conversation and could even lead to a field-trip.

De Haro

Cuernavaca, Mexico

Name: Adrian De Haro
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: Junior
Duration: Spring Semester
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

My highlight of studying abroad would definitely be being able to travel and visit so many places throughout Mexico. The city of Cuernavaca itself is also very beautiful and it was fun to be able to explore and learn more about the city we lived in.

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

1.     Pack lightly. You don't need a ton of clothing or other things jammed up in your suitcase. It only causes a hassle when you are trying to get through the airport.

2.     Don't be afraid to talk to people and try and learn some information of where you are going to go beforehand.

3.     Take lots of pictures! It's always nice to be able to remember and see all of the incredible adventures and memories you made

Katie corgiat 

Rome, Italy

Name: Katie Corgiat
Major: Communication
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
The highlight of my study abroad experience was being able to travel all over Europe. I was amazed by how close everything was, and how it was only a 2 hour flight to get to another country. It was also very inexpensive to travel from country to country, which made it easy to get a lot of places within the four months. I spent a lot of time in Rome but I did look forward to visiting other countries on the weekends. I also loved the feeling of being independent and I feel so much more confident traveling now. One of my favorite trips while I was abroad was a trip SAI put on one weekend. We went to Umbria and Perugia and it was so fun to be with all my classmates from SMC and bond over the experience we were having.  
 

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

1. Before studying abroad, research the different locations SMC allows students to study abroad in and choose the best one for your major and interests.

2. When you are abroad you will often get caught up with wanting to travel all over Europe, but make sure and give yourself enough time to explore and learn about your home for four months.

3. Be open to learning the language of the country you are studying in. A little effort goes a long way with the locals and they will respect and recognize when you try to speak to them in their language.

mccrew

Rome, Italy

Name: Caitlin McGrew
Major: Psychology
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Academic Year
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
My study abroad experience is packed with so many incredible memories that it’s really hard to pick just one highlight. Being immersed in an amazing culture so different than my own while having the ability to easily travel throughout Europe is something I will never forget. If I had to pick one event that was a big highlight of my experience, it would be seeing the canonization of Mother Teresa at the Vatican. People from all of the world traveled to Italy to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity and I felt very lucky to have also been a part of it.   

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

1.     Keep an open mind. You are going to be immersed in a culture and you will probably find that things are very different there than they are at home. Let yourself be open to the city, the food, and the people in order to make the most out of your experience.

2.     Don’t be afraid to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I found myself doing things that I thought I would never do and they ultimately became some of my favorite memories of my time in Italy.

3.     Take time to relax and enjoy the city you are studying in. You’ll be tempted to travel every weekend, but make sure to plan weekends in your host city. This way you won’t get burnt out on traveling and you’ll get to learn more about your host city

Caitlyn Pearson

Rome, Italy

Name: Kate Pearson
Major: Psychology & Italian
Class Standing: Junior
Duration: Academic Year
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
My highlight was being able to travel as much as possible. Experiencing all the new cultures and talking to locals was an amazing experience. It’s an experience everyone should have.

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

1.     Look into where you’ll be living! Seeing what my apartment and city looked like on Google Maps not only made it seem more real, but helped me to navigate around when I first got there.

2.     Travel as much as possible. Now is the time to do it and in Europe it’s really cheap! Check skyscanner. They have an option for anywhere, and I found some of my best, and cheapest, trips with it to places I never thought I would go.

3.     Don’t say no. If someone asks you to do something that you wouldn't normally do at home, try it abroad

Sophia Almada
 

Seville, Spain

Name: Sophia Almada
Major: Psychology & Italian
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall Semester
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
Learning by experience. I throughly enjoyed learning about the history of my city via perofessors, books, museums, locals and self-discovery. I was amazed by how diverse in culture Seville was and there is proof of it on every street. The two week intensive course at the beginning of the program allowed me to wander the streets while learning about its rich historical significance. This gave me the confidence to continue to explore and experience Seville as a local. Also, traveling to various cities within Spain allowed me to compare different regions and witness famous sites that form the country's identity. Being able to form relationships with locals, stroll through streets with great historical importance and live in a city as gorgeous as Seville is an experience I will never forget!

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1) Journal! Write it all down because it will not only bring back fond memories later but will allow you to see your growth as an individual.
2) Do not bring more than what you can carry. Trust me on this, I did and found it so hard to travel with over-packed suitcases!
3) Make the experience your own! There's no "right way" to study abroad. Be open to new experiences, confident in your decisions, and lastly immerse yourself.

Max Molz
 

Seville, Spain

Name: Max Molz
Major: Politics
Class Standing: Senior
Duration: Fall 2016
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
My study abroad experience is highlighted by the culmination of everything that I experienced while in Sevilla. That is generic to say, but I want future study abroad students to be excited for all that they are going to encounter. First and foremost, my host family laid the foundation for me to have a successful semester. They were instrumental in assimilating me to their culture while making sure that my language improved every single day. Their hospitality set me up to enjoy each day in the city. I loved being able to walk or be friendly and open to having new people live in their community. Sevilla was a highlight in itself, but I would say an even bigger highlight of my experience was being able to travel throughout Europe with ease. Prices for train or airline tickets were relatively low making it easy to see many countries in Europe. I was fortunate to see many different cultures.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
1) Learn and love the city that you are in first and foremost. You chose the city you are in for a reason, so do your best to immerse yourself in their culture!
2) Keep an open mind. Respect the culture that you are in as well as the cultures that you visit while enjoying yourself. You will have the natural urge to travel all over Europe, so wherever your travels take you be safe and have fun! Know where other Saint Mary's or old friends are studying abroad as they will provide you with a guide to countries that you see.
3) Focus and relax on all the good that is going to come. This is an amazing experience that will give you memories for the rest of your life! Keep a journal for your travels, so you remember everthing about your favority trips.

Martha

Seville, Spain

Name: Martha Mrdja
Major: Business Administration & Spanish
Class Standing: Senior
Duration:  Spring Semester
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
One of the highlights of my study abroad experience would definitely be la Feria de Abril. Dressing up in my dress and dancing flamenco with Sevillanos was an incredibly fun experience!

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

1. Be a yes man — be open to the idea of trying new things, being pushed out of your comfort zone, and stepping into another country’s culture!

2. Research your destination. You will be living there for quite a while, don’t go into the experience oblivious.

3. Travel as much as you can, but also don’t miss out on experiencing the amazing culture of the city you are living in.

 

Shanghai, China

Name: Jonathan Chan
Major: Business Administration
Class Standing: Senior
Duration:  Spring Semester
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
To be updated.

What are three tips that you would give someone before studying abroad? 
To be updated.

McDuffee

Florence, Italy & Rome, Italy (NON-SMC Programs)

Name: Caitlyn McDuffee
Major: Business Administration - Finance
Class Standing: Senior
Duration:  Academic Year
What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
There were so many amazing moments during my time studying abroad that it is hard to pick a highlight. I would have to say, however, that it was the little things that made my study abroad experience so great – things like ordering my daily cappuccino at the local coffee bar, stumbling upon a midnight Easter procession in Sicily, or bonding with new friends over a big plate of pasta! 

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

1. Try to speak the local language – it is okay to make mistakes. Even if you only know a few phrases, it goes a long way.

2. Be open-minded and try new things. Take full advantage of the amazing opportunity that you have.

3. Learn more about the culture and history of the city that you are living in. Take a class if you can. In Rome, for instance, I took an art history class where we visited and studied sites such as the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.