Spring 2013

Michelle Alderink
Grand Valley State University
Granada, Spain

Alderink, MHola, amigos! My name is Michelle and I’m from west Michigan, where I’m studying Spanish, social work and Latin American studies at Grand Valley State University. I chose to study in Granada, Spain to fulfill a promise I made to myself almost four years ago. On a high school student exchange, I was looking out towards Granada from the Alhambra palace and felt a strange awe and excitement I couldn’t describe. I immediately knew I had to return to this fantastic city in order to improve my Spanish and immerse myself even further into the culture. With my crazy passion for Spanish, some of my most important goals are oral proficiency, improved comprehension, and a broader vocabulary. I’m also excited to gain a true appreciation for Spanish culture by continuing to confront cultural barriers and taking every opportunity of cultural immersion. However, I am most eager to make my own mark on Granada and create an authentic connection. I’m beyond enthusiastic to share my journey and hope you all fall in love with Granada as much as I will!

Emma Altheide
Iowa State University
London, England

AltheideMy name is Emma Altheide, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to be an ISA Featured Blogger. I am from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and a sophomore in journalism and international studies at Iowa State University. This semester I am taking courses at the University of Westminster in London, England, and I can already tell this will be a life-changing experience. I chose London because I have always had a love for all things British, and because the incredible diversity of the city means there is almost nothing you can’t find here. During my time abroad, I hope to gain an understanding and appreciation of a London’s culture, and to eventually feel at home in this amazing city.

Jillian Aubin
Louisiana State University
London, England

Aubin, JHello all! My name is Jillian, and I’m a junior at Louisiana State University. I’m currently pursuing a major in English Literature with a minor in Mass Communication. Throughout my studies, I’ve consistently found British literature particularly captivating, which was one of the reasons choosing to study abroad in London was a no-brainer for me. England’s rich history and culture have always fascinated me, and I’m fully prepared to immerse myself in all of its traditions while I’m here. I can’t wait to spend a day getting lost in the National Gallery or wandering in and out of the shops at Camden Market. By the end of my study abroad experience, I hope to be at least a step (or two) closer to becoming a true citizen of the world. I’m looking forward to sharing all of the sights and sounds of London with you. Cheers!

Chelsea Beaulieu
Salve Regina University
Hyderabad, India

Beaulieu, CMy name is Chelsea Beaulieu and I am from Hinesburg, VT. I am currently a junior at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. I am a double major in Global Studies and French. The way that I came to choose India as my study abroad destination was somewhat complicated. As a French major, I originally wanted to study in a French-speaking country in Africa, such as Senegal or Morocco. After finding out that I wouldn’t be able to take upper-level French courses in any countries in Africa that my school had partnerships with, I decided not to worry about French courses this semester and go to somewhere that I have always been curious about. That place was India. I have always been infinitely adventurous and curious about practically everything, I will try close to any food item, go on any type of nature adventure, and I love getting lost; I just want to absorb as many sounds, scents, and sights as I can in my life. After diving into this study abroad experience, I cannot image having picked a better country as my destination.

Emily Cable
University of Rhode Island
Dublin, Ireland

Cable, EMy name is Emily Cable and I am a junior the University of Rhode Island. I am a Film major with an English minor and hope to be a screenwriter in the future. My hobbies consist of writing, drawing, and playing and supervising URI’s Quidditch team, The Rhody Ridgebacks! I am very excited to be studying abroad in Ireland at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth.

Alaysha Cassell
Washington State University
Valencia, Spain

Cassell, AMy name is Alaysha Cassell and I am 22 years old from Renton, WA. I am the oldest of four and love my family very much. I attend Washington State University, GO Cougs! I love being a Coug and was sad to leave in December as I am finishing up my last semester of College abroad. A little more about me, I am a very chill down to earth individual who loves meeting new people and having a good time. After I get back from my studies abroad I plan to get a job most likely in entry level sales, to save money then move to California to pursue a career in screen writing. Hence why I applied to be a blogger for this program, to get more experience in writing.

Angela Detweiler
Middle Tennessee State University
Santiago, Dominican Republic

Detweiler, AMy name is Angela Detweiler and I am from Nashville, TN. Ever since I was twelve years old and first went out of the country to Jamaica for a mission trip I have loved traveling to different countries. Over the years I have been to Mexico, Brazil, Germany, and most recently have been spending time in Santiago, Dominican Republic. At my home university in Tennessee, I am studying Spanish Education. I love teaching people of any age, especially language learners. I realized at the age of fourteen how much language opens doors to new relationships and experiences. Whether teaching Spanish in the States or English abroad, I hope to enable others to speak and interact as they live life and experience new adventures. I am passionate about Spanish, experiencing other cultures, dance, music, writing, and nearly anything else that means enjoying time with my friends and family. I am so thankful for the time I have this year in Santiago! I know it will be a season of amazing relationships and experiences!

Svetlana Fenichel
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Cusco, Peru

Feichel, SHola! I am Svetlana Fenichel, or just Lana. My alma mater, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, equipped me with a great set of skills and insatiable desire to explore the world. I am a Literature major with a minor in International Relations. I am an ISA veteran, having had experienced Sevilla, Spain in spring 2012, I am now gearing up again for an exciting trip to Cusco, Peru. The inspiration for the trip came from the colorful National Geographic depiction of the country’s endless beauty and its unique cultural flavor. Having experienced the magnificence and historical richness of Spain, I became curious about what impact it had on the countries it once expanded its powerful influence to. Combined with the desire to indulge in Peru’s gastronomic richness and hike the Andes to the point of exhaustion, and I was convinced that this is the place to go. I am excited to learn for myself about the friendliness of the Peruvian people as well as the creativity and exquisiteness of their everyday life. Even more so, as a featured ISA blogger, I am excited to be sharing the beauty I am about to discover with you!

Nicolette Finizio
Florida State University
Barcelona, Spain

Finizio, NHola amigos! My name is Nicolette Finizio, I am of Italian background (hence my unusual name), however was born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida. I am a junior at Florida State University and am a Marketing major, with a minor in hospitality. I chose to come to Barcelona for study abroad because I felt that this exciting city fit my wild personality the best. It is a city that can fulfill one’s every need with populated beaches, never ending night-life, cultured people, amazing food, convenient transportation, and beautiful architecture, as well as scenery. During my semester abroad, I plan to improve my Spanish speaking skills, open up my mind to new experiences, make relationships with fellow students and locals, develop my ability to be independent and navigate a foreign city, and most importantly, make irreplaceable memories with new amigos and my new Spanish familia.

Kayleigh Fladung
University of Dayton
Sevilla, Spain

Fladung, K¡Hola! My name is Kayleigh Fladung and I am a junior at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Growing up, my family moved between South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota but we currently call Hudson, Ohio our home. I’m majoring in communication with a concentration in journalism and two minors in marketing and Spanish. I love writing, running, cooking and listening to as much music as I can get my hands on. I’ve taken Spanish classes since high school but became really interested in the culture and language after taking higher level courses with some amazing professors at UD. I’ve always had a strong desire to travel the world and experience different cultures and customs, so I am excited to start my journey with a semester abroad in Sevilla. I hope to improve my language skills, immerse myself in the lifestyle and learn all about the rich history of the Andalusian region. I am excited to share my experience with perspective students as I soak up the sunshine, siestas, sangria and many gorgeous sites that make up the south of Spain!

Courtney Fraley
Baldwin Wallace University
Sevilla, Spain

Fraley, CHola! I am Courtney, an adventurous, goofy, passionate 20 year-old from Mansfield, Ohio.  I am a sophomore at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio. I have a double-major in Public Relations and Spanish.  Ever since my first Spanish class in the seventh grade, I have wanted to explore the fascinating and beautiful country of Spain and the Spanish culture. In Spain, my goal is to develop multicultural skills through cultural immersion, language fluency, networking, and creating personal relationships. I am nervous, but prepared to take risks, laugh off mistakes, and have fun.  I am so thankful and thrilled for this once in a lifetime opportunity.  So, join me as I share my first-hand experiences as a first-time international traveler.

Meghan Gaucher
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Gaucher, MHello! My name is Meghan Gaucher and I am a junior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Upstate New York. I am studying abroad in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa at KwaZulu Natal University, along with 15 other HWS students. I am a Writing and Rhetoric (sounds more complicated than it is!) and a Political Science double major with a minor in Development Studies. Over winter break I went to Thailand for a three week Peace & Environmentalism class, which gave me further insight into the pros and cons of ecotourism in a developing country. I was able to work at the Elephant Nature Park where my interest in sustainable development and wildlife conservation methods grew. And, of course, I went to hang out with my favorite animal-the Asian elephant! I have grown up in North Shore Boston near the water, and love scuba diving, hiking, running, reading, and enjoying the beaches! Boston is my favorite city, and I spent a lot of time there while I worked at a non-profit this summer called Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, which is located along the Boston shoreline-only expanding my love for Boston’s restaurants, entertainment, and accommodations! I am so excited for my next adventure in South Africa and cannot wait to share all of my experiences with the rest of the ISA bloggers–looking forward to snapping some photographs and filming my own observations!

Camille Gauthier
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Seoul, South Korea

Gauthier, CAnnyeonghaseyo?  My name is Camille and I’m super excited to share my experiences abroad with everyone!  Since I grew up living two blocks from Chicago and now attend the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, it should be no surprise that I’m drawn to the city lights of Seoul, South Korea, where I will be spending the spring semester.  While I’ll be entering the second half of my sophomore year of college, most Koreans my age will be just beginning their first year.  How interesting is that?  My two majors are English and Asian Languages and Literatures.  As expected with those areas of study, my hobbies include reading, writing, doing research and, of course, watching Asian dramas.  Equipped with my handy-dandy laptop and my fancy new camera, I’m prepared to share all sorts of tidbits from this semester in Seoul; from the food, to the music, to the history, to the literature.  I’ll do my best!  As they say in Korea: Fighting!

Allan Gervacio
Old Dominion University
Florence, Italy

Gervacio, ACiao, I’m Allan! I’m from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and am excited to spend the first part of my senior year here in Florence. At Old Dominion University (in Norfolk, VA) I am a vocal performance major, with aspirations of becoming an opera singer. The academic gains that the ISA Program has to offer were part of what drew me to it. That and my love for music, travel, and food! I love the fact that I will be able to wander around and try new things. While I’m immersed in all things Italian, I hope that I’ll be able to become fluent in another language, travel to other countries, and make new friends. I am excited to share my experiences and hope everyone enjoys my blog – alla prossima!

Gevirtz, NNicole Gevirtz
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Meknes, Morocco

Oh hi! I’m a 26 year old college student from NJ. I’m a political science major and I do advocacy work for Palestine in the Philadelphia area. I’m interested in Middle Eastern studies. A voracious book worm and a military history nerd. Hates oppression and inequality. Loves resistance and freedom for everyone. I’d love to be a teacher some day.

Paula Gordon
North Carolina State University
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Gorden, PQué tal! My name is Paula Gordon, and I am a second year student at NC State University studying Spanish and International Studies: Latin America Concentration with a minor in Journalism. I grew up in Pinehurst and have lived my entire life in North Carolina. I have never needed my passport before now. What better place to experience Latin American culture than Buenos Aires, a city that is home to the tango, maté, and 13 million people? I was inspired to travel to Argentina after a history class that focused on the culture of the gauchos in the Pampas region and the ways that they shaped current Argentine society. I come to Buenos Aires with an open mind, ready to soak up the culture by living and interacting with los Porteños. I’m excited to share my journey with you as I learn about my new home and open my eyes to its vibrant culture. I hope to return to the States with a higher level of Spanish fluency and comprehension, and a fuller understanding of the Latin American culture that can only be experienced first-hand.

Kylene Herr
Missouri State University
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Herr, KI’m Kylene Herr, born and raised in Quincy, Ill. – a small Mississippi river town more affectionately known as “Q Town.” I currently attend Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. as a double major in Public Relations and Spanish. When I began studying Spanish in the seventh grade, I was completely unaware that it would quietly lead me to my dream of experiencing a life abroad. Despite much discouragement, I clung to this dream and nine years later it will finally become my reality. My specific Argentine infatuation spawned pretty casually from an episode of Anthony Bourdain No Reservations. This minor exposure to the culture spurred my own research. The more I read, the more my desire to experience Argentina intensified. I love art, aged architecture, dance, lively people, cuisine, wine, the outdoors, and countless other areas of interest in which Argentina excels. Other than experiencing these major perks, my main goal is to return home basically Porteño- feeling really cool about not only that, but the fact that I can speak Spanish better than pretty much anyone I know. To say the least about my personality, I am definitely a thrill seeker that seriously craves adventure. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I’ll have no problem encountering some overly interesting situations to share with you over the course of this semester. That being said, I cannot wait to get this fiesta underway!

Elizabeth Hurd
Saginaw Valley State University
Galway, Ireland

Hurd, EMy name is Elizabeth Hurd; I am 19 years old and from Port Huron, MI, USA. I am a sophomore at Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, MI, and I am currently studying abroad in Galway, Ireland. I am a Secondary Education, English major and a Biology minor. I decided to study abroad in Ireland for a bunch of different reasons: They speak English, the university I’m at, The National University of Ireland in Galway, is a top rated school, but I mostly chose Ireland because there was something that struck a chord with me. It’s really hard to describe, but I saw the program in Ireland and I just felt this desire to go there more than any other place I was considering. The one thing that I really want to gain from this experience is a new perspective of the world. It’s cheesy, I know, but I really want to be able to look at the world through the eyes of a different culture. I’ve been in Ireland for two weeks as of today, and so far I have been exposed to so many things that I’m not used to in the United States, so I’m super excited to see what the rest of my time in this really magnificent country has to offer.

Karlie Jeneson
Boise State University
Barcelona, Spain

Jenesen, KHola! My name is Karlie Jeneson and I am currently studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain! I am from Sun Valley, Idaho, and a sophomore at Boise State University (home of the blue turf). At Boise State I study communication with a PR emphasis, as well as my main passion, music. I love to travel (obvious), sing, play the guitar, and dance whenever and wherever possibly. I am extremely light-hearted and outgoing. I cannot wait to open my heart and my mind on my time abroad and to make feats I have only dreamt of! Upon my return the United States I hope to transfer to a smaller private school, in hopes of becoming more involved with music and what I really love!

Mary Johnson
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, ChileMary Johnson

¡Oye! I’m Mary Johnson—adventurer, photographer, and vegetarian. I love Chile.  You can be hiking in the mountains, relaxing at the beach, site seeing in the desert, and exploring the rainforest all in a matter of days. There is so much packed into this long, skinny country. I’m just diving into my second semester here and am excited to share with you my experiences in Chilean culture. I’m originally from Illinois, where I also go to school at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. However, I won’t be returning there for school since I’m planning to graduate after my final semester in Chile. Although I’ve come to Chile to really try to learn and understand Spanish language, in the States I’m majoring in Photography and International Studies with an emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean. On top of that I have two minors– Peace Studies and Gender Studies. If you enjoy my blog, be sure to check out my more frequent, personal blog at http://mary5210.blogspot.com

Lauren Kaplan
The College of New Jersey
Meknes, Morocco

Kaplan, LHey Everyone! My name is Lauren Kaplan and I attend The College of New Jersey where I am a double major in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. I was born and raised at the Jersey Shore (no pun intended) where I still currently live. I chose Morocco as my destination because I spent the summer of 2012 in West Africa, Cameroon and it was the best experience of my life. I want to explore another African country and engage in its language(s), culture, food, and anything else this beautiful country has to offer. I am most excited about studying Arabic and I am honored to have the opportunity to live with a host family! Safe travels & best of luck to all!

Blair Konczal
Kansas State University
Florence, Italy

Konczal, BWhat’s up guys, my name is Blair Konczal from Kansas State University. I’m a junior majoring in digital media there. I love working with video, being outside, and taking adventures. But music is my main passion in life. I’m taking on Florence, Italy this semester completely solo hoping to meet as many people as I can and travel around Europe. Born in Munich, Germany and raised in Kansas I come from THE suburb of suburbs. I’m looking to get out of my comfort zone and try and do anything and everything. Be sure to check in with me to see what sort of trouble I’m getting into around the streets of Florence!

Emily Kuhn
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Malaga, Spain

Kuhn, EMy name is Emily Kuhn, and I am currently an English major at UMass Amherst. I am originally from California, and my interest in Spanish language and culture began when I read The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende in my junior year of high school. I caught the travel bug early and decided to become fluent in Spanish whilst immersing myself in Spanish culture. Apart from literature and language, I enjoy yoga, hiking, baking and film. I make it a point to seek out diversity and new experiences everywhere I travel. I am also excited to be in Spain as it is going through such a tumultuous political and social upheaval. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in Malaga, Spain!

Emma Lofthus
Luther College
Paris, France

Lofthus, EBonjour! I’m Emma, a Junior French major and Music minor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities, Minnesota for all my life, which is where I started learning French in Kindergarten, and my passion for all things French has never died! I’ve done quite a bit of world travel before but I want to truly live in a European city and learn all about it. I chose Paris because ISA’s spring semester there looks like so much cultural education and fun – exactly what I want! I hope to immerse myself in French language, history, art/architecture, gastronomy, and the amazing classes at the Catholic University. I love nearly everything I know about Europe, and I can’t wait to show you how a 20-year-old Minnesotan does Paris!

Katherine Marcheski
Iowa State University
Sevilla, Spain

Marcheski, KI am a junior studying journalism and Spanish at Iowa State University, and hoping to also tack on an American Sign Language minor. I’m originally from West Dundee, IL, about 35 miles northwest of Chicago. I’m studying at Universidad de Sevilla for the spring semester, and afterwards will be volunteering at a sea turtle rescue and conservation center on a beach in Athens, Greece for the first half of the summer. Upon graduating next year I hope to volunteer in the Peace Corps and one day work for National Geographic.

Gabrielle Martorana
San Diego State University
Florianopolis, Brazil

Martorana, GHello my name is Gabrielle Martorana and I am a senior in the Robert L. Payne School of Hospitality at San Diego State University. I am majoring in Hospitality and Tourism with a minor in Marketing.  I chose to study abroad in Florianopolis Brazil because one of my goals is to transfer internationally while working for an international hotel company, and Brazil has always been a place on my bucket list. The rich culture and completely unique traditions and life style have greatly interested me, not to mention the stunning landscape and distinctive cuisine. One of my goals for my study abroad experience is to be able to speak confidently in Portuguese and be able to make a few authentic Brazilian dishes for my friends and family upon my return home. I also have a long list of places that I want to visit while I am in South America. But most of all I want to put myself out of my comfort zone and create exciting experiences with memories and friendships that will last a life time!

Katie Martorano
Rowan University
Granada, Spain

Martorano, K¡Hola! My name is Katie Martorano and I’m from northern New Jersey in a small town called Ringwood. In the United States, I attend Rowan University for Spanish and Elementary Education.  Spain, (specifically Granada) is the perfect location for my adventure abroad. Aside from being incredibly beautiful, it is a great place to learn Spanish. It was during my senior year of high school that I realized my love of languages. I was tutoring a boy who had just moved to America and was battling with the SAT. His dedication and overall bravery was unfaltering. One day I asked him, “But how do you do it all? Leave everyone you know to learn a language in a different country?” And he said simply, “Because it is important to me.” Of course, living in a different country will be completely nerve-wracking, but I’m ready. I’m willing to take on my fears, download skype, and pack my favorite pillow because recently a friend said to me, “Good, be nervous. That way you can prove yourself wrong when you enjoy yourself.”  So here I am, ready to get out of my comfort zone and do something I never in a million years thought I would do…and add to my bucket list while I’m at it!

Nicholas Mathis
Virginia Military Institute
Bilbao, Spain

Mathis, NMy full name is Nicholas Stillwell Mathis. I was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 1992. I’ve lived most of my life in Virginia though, and I currently attend the Virginia Military Institute. I’ll be commissioning into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant after I graduate. I’m a very active person, and I love to surf, hike, and work out. I spend my summers working on a beach in New Jersey as a lifeguard, and it’s the perfect job for me. I’ve never done a blog before, but I’m very excited for the opportunity.

Jordan Mathews
University of Colorado, Boulder
Granada, Spain

Matthews, JHey, hey, hey! My name is Jordan Mathews. I am 21 years old and a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. (One of the most special places in the world.) I am currently studying International Affairs, Spanish Language and Literature and am also working to get my certificate in International Media. This semester I’ll be hanging around the town of good ole Granada, Spain. People often ask me, “Why Granada?” And I really can’t say anything other than, as the universe would have it, it seems Granada picked me- a place that I am quickly discovering is one of the most special places on earth, as well. I have many interests, they include adventure-ing, discovering, talking, writing/ blogging, photo-ing, laughing, some more talking, eating, meeting, finding, eating, swimming, eating, learning, loving, reading, discussing, questioning and currently Spain-ing. My goals for my time abroad look very similar to my interests… Eating. Learning. Loving. Talking (Hopefully more Spanish than English) and eating… and traveling… and learning and loving… and, well yeah. You get the point. I am so excited to be apart of the ISA blogging team, and I hope I can provide you all with some relevant and interesting insight and perspective, and most importantly, I hope I can provide you with a few laughs along the way, as well. Besitos!

Samantha McCauley
Miami University
Valparaiso, Chile

McCauley, S¡Hola po! My name is Samantha McCauley and I am from Lebanon, Ohio, a relatively small town just north of Cincinnati. I am studying Spanish and Spanish Education at Miami University of Ohio. I found my passion for Spanish while on a mission trip to the Yucatan of Mexico nearly three years ago. I have since returned and I hope that I will be able to continue to do so in the future as I build relationships with my friends there. One of my favorite pastimes is making new friends and trying new things, which I fully expect I will be able to do in Valparaíso. I look forward to studying Spanish and other subjects with Chilean students in the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso (PUCV), and improve my Spanish language skills. I chose Valpo because it is not like anywhere I have ever been before. I can’t wait to open my heart to this new place and share my experiences here thanks to ISA!

Abby Melton
University of Alabama
Paris, France

Melton, ASalut—my name is Abby Melton, and I’m headed to Paris! I graduated from a liberal arts school in Birmingham and am currently a junior majoring in English and French, with a minor in Creative Writing, at the University of Alabama. Avid coffee consumer, picture-taker, and bric-a-brac collector, I’m seeking these things: good poetry, good food, and memories on a not-so-forgiving budget. So, here’s my take on everything French, from indie films to local music to pain au chocolat, served with my own side of honesty and a little sass. I’ll be uncovering the depths of Paris one museum and discothèque at a time with my fellow American roommates, in search of true love. JK—I’m just one student discovering the world. And, by proxy, hopefully you will be too!

Jessica Montez
California State University, Fullerton
San Jose, Costa Rica

Montez, JPaz! Soy Jessie Montez, I have 20 years of life experience. I study Nutritional science, cultural anthropology and the Spanish language at the University. I grew up in Corona California. I come from a big Italian Family (on my mother’s side) and a big Mexican family (on my father’s side). I value worldly cultures, I love people watching, I enjoy good food, I honor the practice of yoga and indulge in photographic expression. I hope you enjoy my future blogging and learn from my posts as I flow blissfully through these months in Costa Rica.

Julianna Moschini
Arizona State University
Rome, Italy

Moschini, JSalutations my friends, peers, and fellow travelers!  My name is Julianna Moschini and I currently attend Arizona State University in Tempe AZ with a concentration in communication studies. I elected my host school The American University of Rome based upon their academic emphases on my three loves; international studies/ awareness, culture and communication. I collect life experiences and the social, media, and written tools that fuel my curiosity and ambitions for social change and progressive globalization. My role models include Hillary Clinton, American poet Andrea Gibson, and the late Kurt Vonnegut. I am studying abroad to build on the knowledge required to be an advocate for the socially, politically, and economically oppressed people and communities in the United States of America and abroad.

Kayla Mugler
Oklahoma Baptist University
London, England

Mugler, KI’m from St. Louis, Missouri and I attend school at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This is my third year as an English major and Professional Writing minor. This semester, I’m studying abroad in London, England at Roehampton University. I chose London because—well, it’s London—but mainly for its connection to the literature I study. I’ve wanted to study abroad for a long time, and I was attracted to London because I have a fascination with cities. More than anything, while I’m here I seek to understand a culture besides mine and open my eyes to the world beyond the Bible Belt of America.

Benjamin Olmstead
Hartwick College
Shanghai, China

Olmstead, BIn my town white-gowned women can be seen taking vows behind the mist of a fountain. The dying light of the sun cuts through your vision on summer days as it shimmers across the lake. Other times, lake-effect snowfalls blow hard enough to create castle-like walls around roads where the plows work tirelessly. It’s beautiful, small, safe, and boring. Upon graduation from high school I left behind the 19th-century charm of Cazenovia, N.Y. and attended Hartwick College to eventually study Anthropology. I sought out new people with backgrounds from around the world. This passion for exploration led me to South Korea in my sophomore year. Besides being a priceless experience in its own right, it opened my eyes to China. In the astounding museums of Seoul and Busan my Chinese friends could read their traditional language on thousand-year-old texts. The spiciest of flavors, I soon discovered, were Chinese. From food to culture and now some say, economics, you can’t help but notice that China is an in-escapable and yet welcomed presence in our lives. As Anthony Bourdain once remarked, “Saying I’ve been to China is like saying I’ve been to planet Earth.”

Carina Pacheco
University of Texas, Arlington
Barcelona, Spain

Pacheco, CMy name is Carina Pacheco and I am 21 years of age. I was born in Fort Worth, Texas on December 11, 1991 and have lived in Texas all of my life. I am currently a junior at the University of Texas- Arlington. My family means absolutely everything to me and education is a great priority in my life. Taking pictures, dancing, and spending time with loved ones are definitely the best joys of life. Traveling and meeting new people is something I have always enjoyed doing and one day I hope to travel the world.

Vinayak Rao
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Florianopolis, Brazil

Rao, VMeu nome é Vinayak. I’m a communication major at The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From the tropical beaches of Southern India to the colonial expanses of Northeastern Massachusetts, I’ve called several places my home. Traveling holds a special place in my heart. Having parents that have been across the globe and having family that lives across an equally wide expanse has taught just how large, diverse and beautiful this planet is. This is why I’m studying abroad. I want to begin experiencing what my parents have and I want to have stories of my own to pass on. Every bit of culture I can absorb will make me a better person, and in my time in Floripa, I hope to learn as much as I can. From an anxious tourist I hope to become a native well versed in the local culture, and through this blog you’ll get to see my transition as I make Florianopolis one of my homes.

Kathleen Rhine
Point Loma Nazarene University
Valencia, Spain

Rhine, KHello! I’m Kathleen. I call San Diego, California my new home, but Texas has my roots. Raised in a relatively small town north of Dallas, I made my first big move at 18 years old to San Diego. It is the best decision I’ve ever made! I am in my junior year at Point Loma Nazarene University, a small, Christian school right on the Pacific Ocean. I am blessed, to say the least. I am a Journalism major and write for the school paper. Though writing is one of my passions, I also adore music, entertainment, art, photography, food, etc. As I begin these next four months in Valencia, Spain, I will share aspects of this mesmerizing city through my eyes. As an exploring enthusiast, I love finding the ins and outs of a place, and this city by the sea is a perfect opportunity for exploration!

Evelyn Rupert
Washington and Lee University
Salamanca, Spain

Rupert, EI’m spending the second half of my junior year away from my beloved Washington and Lee University in Virginia to study in Salamanca, home of the first ISA program abroad. I’m a journalism and Spanish double-major, and I hope that spending the semester in the city known for retaining the purest form of Spanish will allow me to become confident in my Spanish. I was drawn to the historic University of Salamanca and the chance to surround myself with Spanish and international students. I hope by the end of my semester to feel like I’m a part of that unique student community and really get to know Salamanca. Plus, the smaller city appealed to my hopeless sense of direction.

Jean Rust
Wichita State University
Valparaiso/Vina del Mar, Chile

Rust, JHola! My name is Jean Rust and I’m a current student at Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. I’m also a born and raised Wichitan. As of this moment I’m double majoring in Spanish and Elementary Education, but I’m still not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up. I absolutely love people and get excited about the little things. Add the fact that my life is full of mini-adventures, put me in another country, and it is sure to be a fantastic time full of wonderful stories. I’m thrilled to be able to study abroad in Valparaiso/Vina del Mar, Chile! I chose Chile because I wanted to hone my Spanish. But what really won me was the program that Veritas has partnering with the local orphanage and its overall missions emphasis. Part of the focus of this trip is following a potential call to missions and to do some good old fashioned soul-searching. Plus, Chile is gorgeous! Lots of sun and sand and some mountains too. I can’t wait to share all of my crazy adventures from this upcoming semester! Ephesians 3:20!

Leia Schultz
Hofstra University
Panama City, Panama

Schultz, LHi, I’m Leia! I’m originally from Boulder, Colorado, but I chose to move across the country to attend Hofstra University in New York where I study public relations and philosophy. My most recent academic travel choice? Head to Panama to spend a semester of my junior year studying abroad at FSU’s campus in La Ciudad de Saber! I came to Panama to become immersed in a totally new culture and learn about how Panamanians live (and I’m guessing that I’ll be speaking Spanish like a local before too long!). I’m eager to explore this place and satisfy my wanderlust by traveling to Panama’s idyllic beaches as well as its tropical jungles. Getting this opportunity to spend a few months in Panama is too awesome – I have an adventurous spirit, and nothing excites me more than engaging in new experiences that allow me to learn, grow, and – of course – play!

Adéla Smehlik
University of Pittsburgh
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Smehlik, AHey, hey, hey! My name is Adéla Smehlik; I live in Buffalo, New York, but attend the lovely University of Pittsburgh. I’m a junior (where has the time gone? Seriously), studying Spanish and Portuguese, but on the pre-law route. When I’m not reading, writing or driving around listening to music, I like to dabble in Pilates and picture taking. As my main man Gandalf the Grey once said, “The world is not in your books or maps, it’s out there”; And that my friends, is precisely the mentality that I have going to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I love learning languages; I speak five, so going to a Spanish speaking country seemed ideal to perfect my Spanish to sound like a downright porteña (a person from Argentina). There was something about Buenos Aires that attracted me to it, and I can’t wait to dive in and find out what that was. I want to immerse myself in the diverse culture of South America, travel, eat great food, go on adventures, and meet exciting people. But most of all, I just want to do this for myself—one can’t know the world without living in it.

Alex Somborn
University of Arkansas
San Jose, Costa Rica

Somborn, AWell ‘ello there (no, I’m not British…unfortunately). My name is Alex Somborn and I am from little ol’ McKinney, TX, a suburb of big D-Town. For most of the year though, I reside in Fayetteville, AR, where I am currently studying at the University of Arkansas. When I’m not listening to music, searching for new music, or playing music, you can usually find me fiddling with photo editing apps on my iPhone, adding a blurb to my tumblr blog, studying (yes, I actually do that), reading a good book, or eating (girl’s gotta eat, yeah?). This semester though, you might find me (hopefully) improving my Spanish by chatting with some of the locals, exploring a waterfall, or learning how to surf as I study Business and Spanish at Universidad Latina-San Pedro in San José, Costa Rica. I’m currently a junior, majoring in International Business Marketing and minoring in Spanish, all the while trying to avoid being asked the question, “and what do you want to do with that?” seeing as how I don’t have a definitive answer just yet. In the midst of eating, learning, and living in a completely different culture though, I hope to maybe find the answer to that dreaded question. But if not, at least I’ll have a good time searching for it while I’m abroad, and hopefully you’ll have a good time reading about it.

Molly Sorensen
The College of New Jersey
Valparaiso, Chile

Sorenson, MHey hey!  My name is Molly Sorensen and I have lived all my life in Lawrenceville, NJ.  I’m a junior at The College of New Jersey, which is biking distance from the house where I was born and raised.  This same house was built by my grandfather almost fifty years ago and has been in my family ever since.  Needless to say, it’s time to get out and see the world!  I’m majoring in Communications with a concentration in Film and a minor in English at TCNJ.  I’m the very best me when I’m being creative.  Something I like to remind myself which I’ve learned over the years is that without first hand experience, most lessons remain only words.  So I’m off to Valparaiso, Chile for an incredible semester of adventure!  Why Valpo, you ask?  I was sold on the major exports alone (seafood and wine to name a few), but the distinct reputation of Chilean culture is what sealed the deal.  It is said to be unlike any other country in the world, while at the same time resembling all of them in little ways.  So I’m diving into this unique way of life and can already say I’ll be eternally grateful to Valparaiso for hosting me.  I’m in love with South American culture.  It is lively and traditional, embodying the best parts of sensuality and humbling those lucky enough to visit.  I’m passionate about the idea of living in this wonderful city, learning and feeling the Chilean way of being alive. ¡Hasta luego!

Kiah Stalter
Stalter, KUniversity of Pittsburgh
Amman, Jordan

Merhaba!  My name is Kiah Stalter and I am from a small town called Franklin in New York State. Currently, I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh where I study Political Science and Global Studies.  I chose to study abroad in Amman because I want to improve my Arabic and learn more about the rich history and culture of the Middle East, and Jordan in particular.  There is no better way to learn about a place than by actually living there!  I have always loved traveling and find the Middle East to be one of the most fascinating regions of the world.  I am excited to experience life in Jordan and look forward to sharing my experiences on this blog!

Megan Swindell
Iowa State University
Madrid, Spain

Swindell, MMy name is Megan Swindell, and I attend Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. I am majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications with a minor in Spanish. I chose Madrid, Spain as my study abroad program location because I am from near Chicago and wanted the city experience as well as the heart of Spanish culture. Also, family members and friends of mine have previously studied in Madrid, and I have only heard wonderful things about the adventure that I am soon to embark on. I hope to broaden my world-view and indulge in the culture of Spain while I am abroad.

Jessica Tierney
University of California, Riverside
Reading, England

Tierny, JHi my name is Jessica Tierney and I’m from California (Orange County, to be exact). I currently study at the University of California, Riverside as an English major. I’ve been dreaming about studying abroad in England since I was a freshman in high school because, well, of Harry Potter.  The magic J.K. Rowling created made me want to come to the place she set a lot of the book in (obviously, as I got older there became other reasons).  I’ve been in love with literature of all kinds since middle school and that is why I decided I should major in it because I have such a passion for it. I’m hoping to get a well rounded experience out of studying abroad. I want to experience the culture, study literature in a place that celebrates it, and travel as much as possible. I can’t deny and say that the accents aren’t a plus in studying here because they totally are (my younger self is so jealous). I just can’t wait to see all there is in Reading, the UK, and Europe! I’m even more excited to blog for all of you about it. Cheers!

Ariel Trent
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Trent, AHey there! My name is Ariel Trent.  I am from Brooklyn, New York however my heart remains in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a small Caribbean Island where my parents were born and raised.  I am Striving for a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Africana Studies and Dance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) in Geneva, New York.  Since I was young I have always loved traveling and experiencing new cultures and when I discovered that HWS had an abroad program to South Africa I could not resist.  Personally, Africa is one of those places many people dream to visit some time in their life including myself.  For me it was a once in a life time chose so I gained the courage and confidence and applied! According to Marcus Garvey, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Being raised in a Caribbean household I have learned to appreciate and indulge in my culture. With that experience I am very open to learning about other cultures, their food, their music, the way they carry themselves, and their traditions. I feel like going to South Africa I can explore my roots and also see how another person lives which makes me very excited because in that process I might find myself.

Abigail Toevs
University of Idaho
Cordoba, Argentina

Toevs, AHola todos! My name is Abigail Toevs and I am from a small rural town in southeast Idaho. I am a sophomore at the University of Idaho and am pursuing a biology major. I like reading, traveling, writing, knitting, playing piano, and cooking-but mostly eating. This coming semester I will be studying at the National University of Córdoba in Córdoba, Argentina. I chose Córdoba over all of the other wonderful unknowns in the world because I wanted to see for myself the very unique heritage of Argentina and where else to experience the culture than the Heartland of Argentina. If I have learned anything from my previous travels, it is that culture cannot just be observed. To fully enjoy a culture it must be experienced through everyday life, so over the next semester I will be blogging about everything from food to Tango. It’s going to be an adventure and I can hardly wait to see where it leads.

Jason Walsh
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Meknes, Morocco

My name is Jason Walsh. I am from Greensboro North Carolina.  I am a sophomore at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  The University of North Carolina Wilmington is a beautiful school placed about five miles away from the Atlantic Ocean.  In my short time there I have pursued my love for surfing and music.  I have been able to play on the hockey team at my school and pursue my passion for photography.  Fortunately I have had the opportunity to go away to college and live in a dorm with other students whom I had never met before.  This was a big change for me and being able to experience many people with many different interests, but I am ready do take the next big change in my life.  I am going to spend a semester in Meknes, Morocco.  While I am there I hope to be able to continue to push my comfort zones and try new experiences.  I have always been aware that there are many people in the world that live differently than myself in what they eat, what they value, where they live, and how they view the world as a whole.  I have spent my life learning about the great diversity of our species and now I think it is time to go see a small part of that for myself.

Mekiya Walters
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Hyderabad, India

Walters, MHey all! I’m Mekiya (rhymes with Papaya) Walters, a sophomore studying creative writing, psychology, and Spanish at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. (Needless to say, as a Spanish minor, coming to India was an obvious choice.) I love writing and reading, and after graduation I plan to write for publication, teach at a university, and lead a creative writing workshop in a prison. I practice martial arts and yoga, make fried rice and cookies, knit socks, and drink tea. I also nurse a not-so-quiet obsession with phonetics (to which anyone who’s been subjected to one of my lectures on the liquid /r/ will testify). I’ve never traveled outside the US before, but I’ve got to start somewhere. India’s definitely not for those who harbor unhealthy obsessions with chipped ice, traffic laws, toilet paper, or strong internet connections, but it’s a beautiful country: friendly, aggressive, acrid, spicy, and wonderful. While on the subcontinent, I plan to learn Hindi and Telugu, witness the gender revolution, and ride an elephant.

Benjamin Ward
University of South Carolina
Prague, Czech Republic

Ward, BAhoy! My name is Benjamin Ward and I am from Davidsonville, Maryland. I attend school at the University of South Carolina where I am a Media Arts major and an Advertising minor. There are several reasons why I chose to spend my semester abroad in Prague but I can narrow it down to two. The first reason is that I have Czech blood inside me! Second, I wanted to go somewhere completely unfamiliar. Opposed to cities like Paris, London and Berlin, I know very little about Prague despite the rave reviews I’ve heard from a friend who studied abroad there. I want to learn the language and the culture of my ancestors! I want to experience its history firsthand without it being overcast by any previous history book know-how. But above all else, I simply want to expect the unexpected. I have always been a ‘go with the flow’ free-spirit and am certain that this mentality will lead me to unbelievable adventures and unforgettable experiences while abroad.

Evelyn Ward
Iowa State University
Paris, France

Ward, EBonjour! My name is Evie Sue Ward, and I am a sophomore at Iowa State University, where I study Political Science and French. When I’m not in Ames, I call Omaha home, where I live with my parents, older brother, and three miniature dachshunds. During the school year, I am involved with the largest philanthropy on campus, Dance Marathon, my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, the Honors program, and ISU French Club. I love to write, ride horses, and take long walks on the beach… and by “beaches,” I mean “sidewalks,” because that’s about the closest we get to sand in Iowa.

I am excited to study abroad and immerse myself in a new culture! I love learning languages, and foreign perspectives. I have always wanted to live in France, and I am thrilled to have the chance to study at the world renown Sorbonne! I am excited to meet people, see the sights, eat the food, and, of course, wear the fashion!

Meredith Watts
Watts, MUniversity of Georgia
Rome, Italy

Ciao! My name is Meredith Watts and I am from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I am a sophomore at the University of Georgia, pursuing a degree in business, and I absolutely love going to school there. I have traveled from Tanzania to Nicaragua, and many places in between, but this is my first time experiencing Europe. A long way from home, I chose to study abroad in Rome in order to dive right into the true Italian culture and history that this great city has to offer. Although I don’t know any Italian yet, I am excited to start from the beginning and learn the language. I look forward to traveling around, not only Italy but also other nearby countries, and getting to see as much of Europe as I can. This will be a truly unforgettable semester and I can’t wait to see where Rome will lead me!

Katie West
University of South Carolina
Salamanca, Spain

West, KHi! My name is Katie West and I’m studying in Salamanca, Spain this spring. I’m a junior journalism major and Spanish minor at the University of South Carolina, but I was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN (which will always be my favorite place in the world!). When I’m not writing for classes, the student paper or myself, I like to spend my time hiking, taking road trips, cheering on the Gamecocks and definitely not doing crafts. I’m studying abroad to improve my Spanish, but I’m most excited for the opportunity to really get to know a foreign city on an intimate level – to spend more than just a few days there. I chose Salamanca because of its smaller size, walkability and gorgeous old buildings. I can’t wait to start having adventures all over Spain and to share them with you!

Bao Yang
Mount Mary College
Seoul, South Korea

Yang, BEveryone is always interested in the background story of people. They ask, “Who is that girl? And where did she come from?” But they should be asking, “Who is that girl and where is she going?” Our background story plays a significant role in who we are now and it’s meant to be the foundation for our future. Therefore, it is still an important aspect of our lives to acknowledge and reflect upon. I was born into the refugee camps of Thailand, and my ethnicity is Hmong. My family moved to the United States when I was three years old. I am the oldest girl in a family of nine. My childhood years were spent in the ever shining state of California, while the latter part of my life was in Wisconsin, the dairy state. I still consider myself a California girl, because I can’t stand the cold Wisconsin winter and my friends hate me because I rarely feel hot in the summer. But I do consider Wisconsin home. Everyone I know lives in Wisconsin, and I found my identity in Wisconsin. Everyone always did say high school was the worst and best beginning of our journey to figure out who we are. But too quickly my four years at Oak CreekHigh School ended. I went off to Mount Mary College, and that has made all the difference. Now I am awaiting my study abroad to South Korea, and I will learn a lot about myself as I journey to a different world. Looking back on my past, I can’t help but smile at how lucky I am. And I am so grateful for the things in my life. Sometimes everything line up correctly and life is good.

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