Spring 2012

Janelle Bitker
ISA Brussels, Belgium – Academic Year 2011-2012
ISA Featured Blogger
University of California, Davis

My name is Janelle Bitker. I’m a Technocultural Studies major at UC Davis, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m an unabashed foodie looking forward to sampling the fabulous chocolate, frites, moules and beer that Brussels has to offer. I chose the ISA program in Belgium so that I could practice my French day-to-day but still study in English, as well as take in the international energy that is second to none. Apart from gastronomy, my passions are for journalism, film, new media, and of course, travel. Follow my only slightly censored adventures this year at www.janellebitker.com.

Xochitl Cruz
ISA Sevilla, Spain – Spring 3 2012
ISA Featured Blogger
California Lutheran University

My name is Xochitl (pronounced so-chee, to make it easy) Cruz and I am from Los Angeles, California. I am currently studying Political Science and Global Studies with a Spanish minor at California Lutheran University. On my free time I like to read, go on hikes, and play with my dogs. I chose Spain because it offered me the opportunity to better my Spanish and Sevilla due to the affluence the city has.

Liz De Luca
ISA Buenos Aires, Argentina – Spring 4 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
The University of Findlay

¡Hola queridos! Soy Liz De Luca. Estoy terminando mi tercero año universitario en La Universidad de Belgrano en Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ir a Argentina ha sido mi meta para 8 años y estoy muy emocionada estar acá. Algunas otras metas incluyen bailando en Tango en una presentación público en las calles, viajando a La Tierra del Fuego en Ushuaia, y hiciendo nuevas amistades con argentinos. ¿Tenés preguntas? ¿Querés saber algo más specífico de mi viaje? Por favor, ¡dímelas! Estoy acá para mí, pero estoy acá para vos también.

Martin Drafton
ISA Barcelona, Spain – Spring 2 2012

ISA Featured Blogger
Arizona State University

I am a 20-year-old Junior at Arizona State University majoring in Global Studies and double-minoring in Sustainability and Spanish. My spring 2012 semester will be spent taking part in the International Studies, Business and Culture Program in Barcelona, Spain at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. My decision to study abroad in Barcelona was influenced by friends who have studied abroad in Spain in the past (and had unforgettable experiences), the rich history and culture, and the excellent opportunity to improve my Spanish that life there will provide. I plan to have the time of my life while I am in Spain and post about all of my great experiences, so hopefully my blog will prove to be entertaining and somewhat inspirational to my readers.

Alyssa Fidel
ISA Prague, Czech Republic – Spring 1 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
Austin College

Hello world! My name is Alyssa Fidel — born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I attend Austin College in Sherman, Texas where I immediately fell in love with psychology and as you would guess, that is my major!  Throughout my first two years at Austin College I always wondered about studying abroad. I finally gained the courage and confidence to apply to ISA and to study abroad for a semester in Prague, Czech Republic. You may ask yourself, why Prague? Well it is for that exact reason–how many people do you know that have studied in Prague? Not many! I want to be one of the few that venture through and experience this beautiful city! I am extremely interested in WWII and Prague has such rich history and culture within this era. Blogging with Austin College students gives me the privilege to spread the word about this great opportunity that should be taken advantage of. I would like nothing more than to tell all of my stories to my fellow classmates. By participating in Classmates Connecting Cultures I hope to think deeper into each situation I experience, documenting my time abroad rather than just relying on my memory of these experiences.

Katie Gillespie
ISA Meknès, Morocco – Spring 1 2012
ISA Featured Blogger
Washington State University

I am a sophomore from Washington State University studying Journalism and French. This semester, I am studying abroad through ISA at the Université Moulay Ismail in Meknès, Morocco. This is the first time I’ve been outside the U.S. or Canada. When I’m not busy being a rookie globetrotter, I write for WSU’s student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, and I also love reading, writing creatively, photography and baking way more than necessary. Eventually, I hope to be a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, covering humanitarian issues. Happy travels.

Victoria Gonzalez
ISA Salamanca, Spain – Spring 1 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
Trinity University

Hello! My name is Victoria Lin Gonzalez. I am from San Antonio, Texas, where I attend Trinity University. I am currently pursuing a major in Urban Studies, with a concentration in Public Issues and Policy and a minor in Economics. I have the wonderful opportunity of spending this semester in Salamanca, Spain where I hope to strengthen my Spanish conversational skills and discover a part of my Hispanic heritage. I am very excited to blog with Girls, Inc. San Antonio of San Antionio – a nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold! I look forward to exciting conversations with the girls about overcoming and embracing cultural differences, such as a foreign language, new customs, and interesting food, and highlighting what it is like living as a woman in Spain. I hope our discussion will lead to similar aspirations of cultural discovery and self-confidence.

Francisco Gonzalez
ISA London, England – ISA Spring 4 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
Texas A&M International University

My name is Francisco Gonzalez and I am from Laredo, Texas. I am currently attending Texas A&M International University. My major is Criminal Justice with a minor in sociology and I choose to attend to the Roehampton University program in London because of the importance of that city regarding my career. The modern metropolitan police force was invented in London and since then the city has been regarded as one of the leading places for criminological research around the world. I choose to partner with the TAMIU Association of International students because they are very involved in promoting study abroad in TAMIU. I want to be able to express my ideas and promote studying abroad through the Classmates Connecting Cultures blog.

Briana O’Neill
ISA Belfast, Northern Ireland – Spring 1 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
University of Texas at Arlington

My name is Briana O’Neill. I am from Flower Mound, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and I attend the University of Texas at Arlington. I am currently a sophomore and am majoring in Political Science. I chose to study abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland because it is the city in which my father was born and raised and where all my paternal family members still live. Although I have traveled in the UK before, I am very excited about actually being able to experience the Irish culture as a resident! Through working with Classmates Connecting Cultures, I hope to provide a detailed, first-hand perspective of studying abroad and all the adventures that come with it!

Emily Peña
ISA Sevilla, Spain – Spring 1 2012
ISA Featured Blogger
University of Kentucky

Hola! My name is Emily Peña and I am from Fishers, Indiana. I am a junior at the University of Kentucky double majoring in Kinesiology and Spanish. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, meeting new people, volunteering, and trying new things! Words cannot express how excited I am to immerse myself in Spain, develop international friendships, learn flamenco, travel, and take advantage of every opportunity Sevilla has to offer!

Elika Roohi
ISA Amman, Jordan – Spring 1 2012
ISA Featured Blogger
University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Elika RoohiHi, my name is Elika Roohi and I am from Anchorage, Alaska. I study journalism at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (the coldest college in the US!). I decided to study abroad in Jordan to try to understand the Middle East better, to learn Arabic, and to challenge myself with an environment unfamiliar to anything I’d ever experienced. When I’m at home, I spend my time writing for the student newspaper at my university, The UAF Sun Star, and playing intramural broomball.

Breck Scarnavack
ISA Sevilla, Spain – Spring 3 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
DePaul University

Hola! My name is reck Scarnavack.  I’m a junior at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.  I am a double major studying Spanish and Public Relations and Advertising.  I grew up in Lansing, Illinois; a small town outside of Chicago.  I think travel is fascinating! Someday, I would love to experience all of the different cultures throughout the world.  My desire to travel is the main reason I decided to study abroad in Spain. Through studying abroad I want to learn as much as possible about the Spanish language, culture and people; that’s why I chose Sevilla as my study abroad destination.  Sevilla is rich in Spanish culture, yet manageable in size. Known for its vivacious spirit, I look forward to getting to know the local people!  I’m eager to submerse myself in the culture and soak up the wonderful experiences that lie ahead.  I am excited to blog with Ms. Samaniego’s third grade classroom and Classmates Connecting Cultures.  I can’t wait to share my experiences with new food and music! I hope to give the students a glimpse of another world in an enticing way. Hopefully this will motivate each student to not only feel comfortable with other cultures, but also to learn more!

Sara Smoter
ISA Buenos Aires, Argentina – Spring 2 2012z
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
University of Pittsburgh

My name is Sara Smoter and I am from Johnstown, Pennsylvania! I attend the University of Pittsburgh, where I am majoring in Spanish and Political Science and working on a certificate in Latin American Studies. I have chosen to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina this semester in order to experience a new, exciting culture, try different foods, meet new people and improve my Spanish speaking skills. I have also chosen to work with a Señora at Bishop McCort High School. I chose to do Classmates Connecting Cultures in order to inspire some students to pursue a Spanish major in the future and to step out of their comfort zone and study abroad. I would like to make a group of high school students more culturally aware and open to different ways of life. I would like to expose them to the food, music, dance and everyday life in Buenos Aires. By writing in my blog I will be able to reflect on my trip, share my experience with others and be more appreciative of the wonderful opportunity I have been given to spend a semester in Buenos Aires!

Lauren Wederich
ISA Florence, Italy – Spring 1 2012
Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger
Rowan University

My name is Lauren Wederich, I live in central New Jersey in a town called Belle Mead near Princeton, NJ. I am a junior at Rowan University studying psychology.  I have never been to Europe and really want to travel around and explore. I choose Florence because I’m an artist and it is one of the most monumental locations during my favorite art period, the Renaissance. I love the idealized figures and large fresco murals. I studied art history in high school and I cannot wait to see the actually pieces in person! I choose Florence University of the Arts because the professors speak English but taught by international faculty.  I hope to inspire others to take the plunge and study abroad, even if they may not be old enough yet. I want my readers to understand that this is an option that offers such great opportunities. I would like my readers to experience Italy with me. I wish they could come on the adventure with me, to taste the pasta and see the duomo in person but I guess video through Classmates Connecting Cultures will just have to do.

Gianna Weller
ISA Salamanca, Spain – Spring 2 2012
ISA Featured Blogger
University of Florida

My name is Gianna Weller and I’m from Fort Myers, Florida. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Florida – GO GATORS! I am a Telecommunications major and double-minoring in Spanish and Education. I am a people-person that loves spending time with my family, friends, and my Sigma Kappa sorority sisters. I grew up in the South Jersey, where I always at the beach every opportunity I had. When I was younger I had many opportunities to travel the world with my family, which I am so thankful for to this day. I always knew that I would eventually study abroad in Spain, and the day has finally come. Studying at the University of Salamanca will motivate me to learn the language the best way: immersion. I am so excited for the studying abroad experience, and all of the memories that are to come.

Valerie Zawada
ISA Prague, Czech Republic – Spring 2 2012
Featured Blogger
St. Ambrose University

I am from Geneva, Ilinois, and am currently a junior at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. I am double majoring in Theatre and International Business. In my free time, I enjoy reading, biking, and singing. I am normally always involved in a show, be it through acting, directing or working on the set. I chose Prague mainly because of it’s location. I wanted to study in Central/Eastern Europe somewhere, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Prague, and the Czech Republic in General- so Praha it is!