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Student Stories


Lead Global Education Mentor (LGEM) talks about his study abroad experience at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy during fall 2019.



Lead Global Education Mentor (LGEM) talks about her study abroad experience at University Cadiz-Andalucia in Cadiz, Spain during summer 2018.



Here are a few reflective essays, written by students, who participated in the Study Abroad Program. We hope you enjoy reading their stories!

Australia Stories Italy Stories: Fall | Summer
England Stories Spain Stories


Deanna Williams

Photo of Deanna Williams

Australia was, without a doubt, the experience of a lifetime. Living on your own for almost six months, dealing with situations without the help of parents or anyone else you would typically go to when at home, really makes you grow up in a way you wouldn’t for at least a few more years. I am so much older than I was before I had gone abroad, thanks to the tons of traveling and the people I was so lucky to meet while there. Studying abroad in Australia taught me a lot about myself and gave me a worldview I would not have without this experience or would not have developed until much later. I made friendships that are so tight I would call them family, and I hold memories that I will treasure until the end of time, all thanks to simply applying for a program we are so lucky to be offered by Monmouth University.

Jackie Leming

Photo of Jackie Leming

Before leaving for my trip I was excited and fearful at the same time. I could not wait to embark on all of the adventures that I knew Australia could offer, but I was afraid of not knowing anyone, being alone, and missing out on all of the events that would go on at home while I was gone. Looking back now I feel silly for allowing these worries to cloud my mind. While missing things at home with loved ones did make me feel sad from time to time, I continuously reminded myself that no one back at home was experiencing the new and amazing things that I was in a foreign country. One of the most incredible parts of studying abroad was the opportunity to make new friends from all over the world. I now have some of the best friends of my life from places like Norway, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and even the United States. Having the opportunity to spend time with people from all over the word opened my eyes to the way that things are done in other countries. Prior to studying abroad I only really knew what it was like to live in the United States, but now I have a greater knowledge of the cultures, governments, and customs of various countries throughout the world.

Jason Weir

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Studying abroad doesn’t have to be a lifelong goal; I happened to stumble upon Monmouth’s study abroad web page about 4 or 5 months before I was on the plane heading to Sydney. If you have the slightest inkling that you may want to study abroad, go to the meetings and see if there if this is something you really want to do. Second, not knowing anybody can be better than going with a friend. If I had gone with one of my friends, I think I wouldn’t have had all the experiences and met all the friends I did while I was in Sydney. Third, if you are actually going abroad, know that things are going to be different in that country, but not necessarily in a bad way. Be able to go with the flow and try new things, after all you are in a different country. I will never forget my time in Sydney and am waiting for the opportunity to go back.

Rianna Rea

Photo of Rianna Rea

You know the cliché and yes I’m going to say it! My study abroad experience in Australia changed my life!

I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to study abroad in Australia. I would recommend studying abroad to everyone! Before I left, Monmouth’s program prepared me with a lot of information about Australia, Macquarie University, the culture, and the area I would be living in. Were it not for Australia my life would not be what it is today. I learned so much about myself and the world in general and I met so many people and made lifelong friends who I hope to reunite with again. I will always have the amazing memories of my experience abroad to look back on. For anyone studying abroad, I wish you all the best and hope that your experiences teaches you more than you could have imagined and helps you grow into the person you want to be!

Sinead Friel

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Studying abroad was easily the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to go to Australia and I never thought it would actually happen. Some people might think it’s impossible to study abroad between the cost and all the classes they have to take, but if you plan properly it’s not hard to organize. I worked about 60 hours a week for three months before going abroad, but it was so worth it. Australia is an amazingly beautiful country. The best thing I did while abroad was traveling up to Cairns in Queensland and seeing the Great Barrier Reef. I got to snorkel and sky dive over it! Also, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was one of the most amazing experiences. If you’re considering studying abroad – do it

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Aashni Shah

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Studying abroad is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Within 3 ½ months, I had the opportunity to not only travel to Italy, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, France and Vienna, but to also live in one of the greatest cities in the world. From the excitement buzzing around you in Trafalgar Square, the Christmas lights on Oxford Street, the striking beauty of Big Ben, seeing the city from the top of The Shard, watching fireworks over the city’s skyline from Primrose Hill, to endless nights exploring the city and days filled with adventure, London is the most magnificent city I have ever been to and one that I recommend every single person to visit at least once in their lifetime. I fell in love with the city of London, and plan to return one day with the intention to never leave again.

Caitlin Ellenby

Photo of Caitlin Ellenby

My decision to study abroad was the best decision I have ever made. The past 4 months that I spent in London were and always will be the best 4 months of my life. Every day was a new adventure and a new story that could be told. It was my goal to get out and go somewhere every day. Whether this was with the wonderful group of friends I made that I now cherish or just a solo adventure, I never felt alone. I absolutely fell in love with London from the moment I stepped off that plane. I knew it was going to be an amazing experience but I had never anticipated how life changing it really would be. I met so many people from all over the world each and every day. Even walking through a place as simple as the library was a cultural experience. Regents University is an international school, so every student there is from somewhere different around the world. As you walk through the library you can hear students talking in different languages and all sorts of accents. I am so proud of the fact that I now have friends in not only places all across the United States, but also across the world such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Austria and France.

Devon Henry

Photo of Devon Henry

There’s something about London that makes you buck up and put your big girl panties on. When I first heard about this study abroad program, it seemed kind of daunting. The idea of living in an epicenter of fashion, business and theater was more than exciting. But for a girl who chose to go to school an hour away from home and called home almost every other day; being so far away from home, scared the living daylights out of me. That faithful day, my last hours stateside were some of the most nerve-racking moments of my life. My thoughts were filled with so many “what ifs”. Maybe a few were slightly irrational “what ifs”, but they were thoughts whose influence quickly dissipated once I made it across the “pond”.

Whilst in London, there are so many opportunities, for fun, fashion, and theatres (movie and the stage). Most is in walking distance, but certain theaters are out of Zone 1, meaning that you’d probably have to take a bus or the tube toward the location. Two things that I’ve never done before. Yep that’s right before this trip I had never taken public transportation, much less by myself. But thankfully, maps of the lines as well as the routes are pretty much everywhere so it was easy to get around. My new found knowledge helped me get to the basic tourist sites such as The Eye, Tower London and Buckingham Palace, but also to multiple Musicals and Plays (hit up the west end and take a theatre class at Regents you won’t regret it), The British Fashion Awards, London Fashion Weekend, and the most epic of all: COMIC CON!!!

Erin McMullen

Photo of Erin McMullen

Studying abroad has made me look at everything and everyone in my life through a different, more culturally aware lens; it really is a life experience that cannot be beat. Sure, you can say that you’re going to travel or backpack around Europe after you graduate college, or when you get older, or after you get married…but will you ever really have the time? Studying abroad not only allows you to further your education, but it allows you to do so while also giving you the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful countries in the world. I would recommend studying abroad to literally anyone who is considering it even a little bit because it was absolutely the best decision I have ever made. I am a better person because of my time in London, and that is why I am working so hard to find my way back.

Francis Salvatore

Photo of Francis Salvatore

I originally chose to study abroad to boost my resume. I figured what better way to make myself stand out then having an experience abroad. I didn’t understand how naive I was until I settled in to London. Studying abroad helped me to understand the important things in life. Through traveling and living in Europe, I was able to appreciate the little things. I learned to appreciate the value of time, money, friends, and myself. If I can share any advice from my experience it would just be to do what makes you happy, don’t ever feel obligated to do things to satisfy others.

I miss London every day that I have been back in the states. Regent’s University, our host college, was centered in London and the location made it convenient to walk to main locations such as Hyde Park, Oxford Circus, Selfridges & Co., Harrods, and the Underground. I miss the British people who were very welcoming and were a pleasure to be around. I also miss the convenience of London’s location to other countries in Europe. For all prospective students interested in studying abroad, when Robyn tells you that this will be the most memorable moment of your life, believe it.

Gracie Zwernemann

Photo of Gracie Zwernemann

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to study abroad when I applied was so that I could see the world. Being an education major, I know that the life plan I have in motion doesn’t leave much wiggle room. I am going to graduate with my two degrees and hopefully get a job, most likely in New Jersey. Studying abroad offered the chance to travel to countries I’d never seen before, and experience a life I may never again get to experience. So, when I eventually got accepted into the program and committed myself to it, I had big plans to see the world while I could.

Looking back on it, Monmouth’s program exceeded my expectations. I was provided with so many opportunities to ask questions and voice my concerns, all of which were addressed appropriately. I felt fully supported by the faculty throughout the application process and even more so when I was accepted into the program. More importantly, in my opinion, on arrival to the UK and upon making friends with study abroad students from other schools (LIU, UNH, and Roanoke, mostly), I was able to compare the study abroad programs between schools. I, along with my fellow Monmouth students, all concluded that the Monmouth program and faculty provided so much support while we were away, and that our school was the best set up among the others at Regents. I am truly grateful for the Monmouth program; I think it made my study experience all the better.

Jaclyn Shugard

Photo of Jaclyn Shugard

Studying Abroad has changed my life for the better. This experience has made me grow as a person and has put me in more real life situations than anything I have ever done in the past. I am much more confident in myself, the choices I make and the risks I am willing to take in life from here on out. I am much more calm and collected. I am immensely happy I chose to do this experience. I have had the time of my life and now I want to see much more of the world outside of the United States and Europe. Studying Abroad has affected my life in so many positive ways, and I hope it changes someone’s life the way it did for me.

Jameson Tisch

Photo of Jameson Tisch

Studying abroad in London has easily been the best decision of not just my college career, but my life. You never know if you’ll ever get the chance to live in a foreign city with just your friends or be able to travel and see the world. If I wasn’t going to be a senior and graduating I would go back again in a heartbeat. Studying abroad makes you realize just how privileged you are to be able to take advantage of such a great opportunity. Fears are conquered, doubts dissipate, confidence is risen dramatically and you are completely changed as a person; for the better. Once you’re there you won’t want to be anywhere else besides walking down Baker Street, or gasping at the views of the Scottish Highlands, or marveling at the ancient Roman Colosseum and much more. Every weekend was a new adventure and it was exhilarating leaving my comfort zone to explore the world. It continues to baffle me that not everyone studies abroad because I can say with zero exaggeration it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity that cannot be passed up.

Jenna Tornatore

Photo of Jenna Tornatore

Prior to departure, everybody drilled into my brain that I was going to have the most amazing time and fall in love with London. Although I wholeheartedly believed it all, I didn’t completely understand what they meant. I sure did not strut off the plane and fall in love with the city of London-I was terrified at first! And even though I adored gorging on samples in Camden, shopping my way through Oxford Circus, admiring the constant hustle in Trafalgar Square, or just aimlessly riding the Tube, I did not fully understand how much studying abroad in London meant to me until I began to travel elsewhere. During my semester abroad I traveled to Amsterdam, southern England, Paris, and all throughout Italy. Every city challenged me emotionally, culturally, and physically and allowed me to grow as a person. But my favorite part of traveling during my semester abroad was knowing that as my weekend in Amsterdam or Paris came to an end, I still had the wonderful city of London awaiting my arrival. The adventure never had to stop! I distinctly remember being ecstatic to return to London after my weekends away and I realized then that I had fallen in love with London like everybody claimed I would-it was my home and will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Jennifer Ingegno

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“In Omnia Paratus.” Ready For Anything. This describes my Fall 2015 semester Abroad in London, England. As someone normally uncomfortable with the unknown, deciding to live in London for four months was a very big decision. I learned how to cope with unfamiliar situations and how to lean on the people around me. The friends I made in London were the people who helped a newbie traveler, ready for anything.

I was able to see places I had only read about. I got to climb Mount Vesuvius and join an impromptu jam session in an Amsterdam train station. The best memories I have were the unplanned adventures, like my trip to Copenhagen that was booked only two days prior. As a die-hard Harry Potter fan I was able to walk in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling and the cast of Harry Potter through multiple tours. I also stood in the London rain for five hours so that I could meet my future husband, Liam Hemsworth at the Hunger Games movie premiere. All these amazing experiences were not without their challenging moments. I missed my family back home, had experiences with sketchy hotels, and lived through the Paris attacks. However, I refused to let those challenges ruin my time abroad.

Everyone says that, “studying abroad will change your life” and I have to join the bandwagon on this. I was able to learn about myself and watch myself grow as an adult as the four months progressed. Studying abroad in London made me ready for anything, especially whatever next adventure may come my way. In Omnia Paratus.

Jessica Lima

Photo of Jessica Lima

Essentially studying abroad has been the best decision I have ever made. This opportunity has changed my life for the better and has greatly shaped the way I look and think about certain aspects of life. Even though the thought of spending nearly four months away from home seemed intimidating at first, it did not take long for London to become home for me. My time abroad has made me more willing to step out of my comfort zone and try new things, and the confidence this experience has given me is truly humbling. Aside from living in an insanely beautiful and culturally stimulating city, I met some of the most amazing people and established friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. While the reality of my time abroad being over is a bit distressing, the memories, experiences and friendships I have made are aspects of my life I will forever cherish.

Kara Bradley

Photo of Kara Bradley

From the meetings with former study abroad students to the many talks with Robyn, Monmouth prepared me greatly for my upcoming semester abroad to London while making the entire process simple and stress free. Thanks to studying abroad, I now have memories and friendships to last a lifetime. After visiting nine different countries within almost four months, traveling has now become one of my passions and I cannot wait to see what else the world has to offer. Experiencing new cultures and cities, meeting students from all around the world, and learning what I am capable of allowed for a life changing opportunity that I am forever grateful for. London became more than one of my new favorite cities; it became my home.

Kristen Pizzonia

Photo of Kristen Pizzonia

Before I went abroad, everyone told me how great an experience it would be and how much fun I was going to have, but those words did not come to life until I actually experienced it for myself. I would tell future students that no matter how great I say it will be and how much of a wonderful time it is, it is up to them to make of it what they want it to be, and that the experience will be great when they are there to see and feel it for themselves. It is so sad to think that so many students miss out on such a wonderful opportunity. Out of all the schools that were there too Monmouth had one of the best programs and was so helpful to their study abroad students. Monmouth students literally have the world handed to them and they need to know that this opportunity is something worth reaching out and grabbing. No matter what I write in this essay, or tell my friends and family, words do not compare to the wonderful experience I had while studying abroad. I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime simply because we shared one of the best experiences of our lives. I have traveled the world on my own and gained a new independence that will help me in the next chapter of my life. And the memories and bliss feelings that London has given me will remain with me forever. I will always return to London with a smile upon my face, for after all it was and will forever be my home away from home.

Maria Kamvissis

Photo of Maria Kamvissis

As cliché as it sounds, Study Abroad was easily the greatest decision I have ever made for myself. I’ve known for a long time that I wasn’t satisfied just staying in New Jersey for the rest of my life and that there was so much more of the world to see. Little did I know how much this experience would grant me in regards to my dreams to travel the world. I was blessed enough to visit five other countries while studying in London including Greece, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. Each country offered a new and unique perspective and tons of unforgettable memories. Getting the chance to meet so many fellow other adventurous souls who had the desire to travel with me was one of the best parts of studying abroad. You are surrounded by like-minded and motivated people who aren’t afraid to explore the unknown. Everyone gets so close, so fast, and all of a sudden you find yourself on a Ryanair flight to another country with someone you met just a couple of weeks ago and its nothing but exhilarating. I encourage everyone to consider the option of Study Abroad as I wouldn’t trade my time in London for anything!

Megan DeSalvo

Photo of Megan DeSalvo

The decision to study abroad was one of the most difficult, yet fulfilling experiences of my life. When I first thought about the possibility of spending a semester in London, I was scared; I did not know if I could survive on my own in another country, when at Monmouth I could go home whenever I wanted. I was not sure if I could leave my friends and family for almost four months and try to make new friends. But I did, and I had the time of my life doing it.
The months leading up to our departure were filled with excitement. I loved the fact that I got to meet everyone else studying abroad from Monmouth beforehand, so I got to see friendly faces in the airport. I was feeling slightly anxious on the drive to Newark and saying goodbye to my parents was sad, but once I saw my group at the gate my anxiety melted away and turned into pure excitement. I knew I was about to begin the journey of a lifetime.

Michael Matt

Photo of Michael Matt

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.” Studying abroad was the trip of an absolute lifetime. I had the opportunity to travel Europe, explore the world, something of a childhood dream of mine come true. Studying abroad does so much more than just visiting and exploring different cultures and countries. You as an individual change. The man that left in late August, is not the one that returned in early December. Travelling broadens your horizons, allows you to get a taste of the world around you, appreciate it more, as well as gets you hooked. Coming back to Monmouth has only made me want to work even harder for my degree and own business, so I can have the utmost luxury of traveling and “living life” one country at a time. I realized that home to me is not where I was born, where I grew up, home is where the adventure takes me, where life takes me, and for me they became synonymous. Adventure and life should always go hand-in-hand. Live your life, challenge yourself, grow as a person, and never stop seeking to discover more in our vast world.

Nana Bonsu

Photo of Nana Bonsu

Studying abroad was by far the best decision I have ever made. At first it was overwhelming to think about being so far from home for such a long period of time, but it did not take long before I realized how at home I felt in London. My study abroad experience taught me so much about life and relationships, and I have grown beyond words as an individual. Spending almost four months in London made me more open minded and willing to try new things, and I now have a new outlook on many aspects of life. Apart from the beautiful places I was able to visit and the fun experiences I will never forget, I met so many great people and have formed lifelong friendships. It is hard to believe that my time in London has come to an end, but I have an immeasurable amount of moments I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Nicole Govel

Photo of Nicole Govel

If I have taken anything away from my study abroad experience it is that a) the world is small, and b) the world is big. I traveled to nine countries in four months and although that may seem like a lot, it is merely a slim fraction of all of the other places I have yet to discover. Despite the fact that I was thousands of miles away from home, the sound of English being spoken, a familiar song, or even running into people from other parts of New Jersey somehow made the world feel interconnected and less intimidating. When I wasn’t traveling to a different country every weekend, I felt fulfilled calling London “home” as it seemed simultaneously familiar and foreign. Additionally, Regents University’s beauty and charm made even the rainiest of days seem a little less dreary, and for that I am forever grateful. Studying abroad has allowed me to have eye-opening discussions with the most interesting people, try a plethora of new foods (which I crave constantly), and, most importantly, help me realize that time really does fly. I would study abroad again in a heartbeat and would strongly encourage anyone with a love for travel or curiosity of the unknown to do the same.

Rayn Dudzikowski

Photo of Rayn Dudzikowski

It took a whole week before it finally hit me that I was actually in London. After so much waiting, planning, saving and anticipation, I was finally there. It didn’t hit me when the plane landed, or when we moved into our room, or when I saw Big Ben. It hit me when a street vendor gave me a free bowl of chili at a food market in Camden. He told me to “save my money for someone who really needed it”. My appreciation of his food and his craft meant more to him than the money in my pocket. While sharing the bowl of chili with my friends, I broke down crying and the city filled my heart. I began to notice the same kind of meticulous care and respect in every aspect of London culture. The architecture was unbelievably crafted and unbelievably preserved. The streets were scrubbed daily. The general public dressed with pride. People behaved and conversed in a more respectful, considerate and thoughtful manner. London challenged me every day to be my best self. I left for America feeling inspired, humbled and ready to embrace life with a positive, can-do attitude. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made.

Stephanie Andujar

Photo of Stephanie Andujar

Going abroad was both the easiest and toughest decision I have had to make. I am an introvert, a shy, quiet girl who keeps to herself so going off to a new country where I didn’t know anyone was scary but I knew it would be worth it. Landing in London was like already being home. This city that I had never been to felt like the right place to be and right then I knew it would all be okay. While in England I experienced things with new friends that I would have never experienced in the States. I learned how to manage my money, travel, push myself and live life fully. The first day we were in London I had already met my core group of friends and from there we did everything together. It truly was an adventure from start to finish. From roaming London, Brighton and the English country side to seeing the ocean in Spain and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower being abroad makes you that much more cultured without you realizing it. Going to countries where there is a language barrier builds your communication skills and getting lost is part of the adventure. Going to England was the best decision I ever made because besides still getting my education on I got to travel the world with friends that became so important to me and I gained my independence. London was life changing.

Stephanie Landwehr

Photo of Stephanie Landwehr

Studying abroad is something that I have wanted to do since I was young. One of my dreams is to travel the world and because of this experience offered by Monmouth, my dream came true. London is the best city on Earth and I would go back in a heartbeat. I don’t step out of my comfort zone often. None of my close friends were able to study abroad so I forced myself to do it alone. When studying abroad it seemed like most people had at least one other person by their side and I was alone. Luckily the group I stuck with was full of nice and friendly people who I became close to and can now call best friends. I am so grateful to have been able to experience traveling the world at such a young age. I would have not been able to do this without the support of the Monmouth Study Abroad Program. They figured out the application, transportation, and made everything so easy. The program was very supportive and I don’t know what I would have done without their help. Studying abroad is something that not many people do, so if anyone has the chance I hope they would apply. This was the best decision I have made in my life and I cannot express how amazing it was. I now have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Italy: Fall

Adrianna Pirone

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To understand what it is like to Study Abroad, you will have to experience it for yourself. Yes, it takes courage. The first step is realizing you want to do it. After that plane takes off, you have decided. I faced my fears, I saw the world, and I understood the purpose of my existence. In a way you can say I found myself. My heart will forever long for Florence, for the people I met here, and for my experiences that shaped the person I am today. I do realize how fortunate I am, and I am so appreciative of my experience with other MU students. Who else gets to say they celebrated their 20th birthday in Florence, Italy? This trip has taught me to live. Before Italy, I lived, but during Italy I saw, I experienced, I learned. I faced fears daily. My first major accomplishment was jumping off a massive rock at Cinque Terre into the Mediterranean Sea. That exhilarating memory will last me a lifetime.

Amanda Murachanian

Photo of Amanda Murachanian

Everyone should live in another country for at least a few months of their life. Experiencing another culture and way of life changed me in the best possible way. I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy for the Fall Semester of my junior year, and it was the greatest time of my life. Before taking the necessary leap of faith to study abroad, I had never traveled anywhere without my family and I did not know any of the other Monmouth students that I was going to be traveling with. As scary as it was to take that leap of faith, I am so grateful that I did, because without doing so, I would have never gotten to see the world in such a spectacular way or become friends with such an incredible group of people, as well as meet so many amazing people from around the world.

Studying abroad was like living in a dream for four months. On weekends I traveled throughout Italy, Paris and Greece. At twenty-years-old I never thought that I would be able to live out so many of my dreams and then some. I went to Milan for Fashion Week where spontaneously I got to do a photo shoot with Canon, I jumped off cliffs in the Amalfi Coast, went ATVing through Greece and saw the Mona Lisa and Eiffel Tower. Some of my favorite times though, were spent with my friends in Florence going to the Fiorentina Soccer games, eating at local restaurants and simply enjoying walking around the beautiful city. The most challenging part was leaving the beautiful city of Florence behind. Firenze ha rubato il mio cuore (Florence stole my heart)! I encourage everyone to take a leap of faith and study abroad, it is the opportunity of a lifetime and by far the greatest experience of my life.

Ashley Episcopo

Photo of Ashley Episcopo

Deciding to leave a life behind and begin a new one in a foreign country is not easy. I decided to study abroad my senior year in college only because I was too scared to do it earlier. Now that I have gone, I realize there was nothing to be scared about. Experiencing something outside of your comfort zone is important. There is a whole world out there with so much to see and so much to learn. Studying abroad leaves you with the disease of the travel bug that does not stop your desire to see more. Seeing these beautiful countries while you’re young is important because never again will you be able to stop your life at home and pack up for four months to travel around to various countries. Going abroad is the experience of a lifetime and it is something you will never forget. Coming back for the holidays and sharing my experiences with my family was a great feeling. I’m proud that I’ve had the opportunity to go abroad and I took it. I only hope that I have the opportunity to travel more in the future.

Danielle St Vincent

Photo of Danielle St Vincent

I have been home for two weeks now, trying to put into words my experience abroad. I have come to the conclusion that there truly aren’t any words that could come close to describing what I experienced in Florence, Italy for the three and a half months I lived there. I believe this experience is something everyone should have in their life. I have gained more knowledge about the world this past semester than I have in my lifetime. I have made the best of friends, friends I know that will last forever, and I have traveled to nine countries and twenty-two cities throughout Europe. It was not easy for me to leave my family and boyfriend at home, but I am very happy I did. I know that this is an experience that not many people get to have and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have left my heart in so many cities, and I know this is not the end of my journey.

John Peterolff

Photo of John Peterolff

My place of stay was Florence, Italy. I could not be happier with my decision. This essay will be one of the most joyful yet painful essays to write. Joyful because I will be able to reflect on the greatest experiences of my entire life, and painful because I miss it so much it is unbearable. In reality no words can truly describe my wonderful experience, but I’ll start off with two words: Eye opening. This experience alone has changed me as a person. It has changed my perspective on almost everything, my eyes that have viewed the world before are entirely different now that they have been blessed with the sights of Europe.

I was a foreigner for the first time in my life and I could honestly say I did not feel afraid for Florence was so welcoming everywhere I went. I never felt a bad vibe living in Florence, I felt at ease. I noticed the Italians were much different than Americans. They were much more lax and peaceful. There were not many ‘too go’ cups of coffee, people would always drink their coffee at the café, and take their time. There were not many people speeding around not paying attention to those around them, people would stop in the streets and enjoy a conversation no matter what their agenda was or if they were in a rush.

John Stout

Photo of John Stout

When I made the decision to spend a semester abroad in Italy, I would have never anticipated the massive impact it would have on my life. As someone who had never traveled outside of the United States, I was nervous and unsure what to expect when I landed in Florence that late August afternoon. However as the weeks passed by, my love for the cobblestone-lined city and the cultures I discovered throughout my travels began to fill my heart. From our first trip to the beautiful lands of Cinque Terre to an excursion through the vast and diverse cities of Northern Europe, I was finally able to turn my wanderlust-filled dreams into a reality. Not only was I able to see places people spend their entire lives dreaming of, I was able to find a true family amongst those whom I was lucky enough to share this wonderful experience with. Looking back on my time that I spent in Florence, it is amazing to see how much I was able to grow and how it gave me the direction I have always needed to chase my goals. Above all, I was able to find my true home in the city of my dreams; Firenze.

Jose Rodriguez

Photo of Jose Rodriguez

I’ve always said that I wanted to travel the world, but I didn’t know when and I didn’t know how. Who knew that at the age of 20, I would visit a total of 9 new, beautiful, amazing countries and make several new friends? These past 4 months in Europe have been a life changing experience and it’s bittersweet that my time has ended. Florence has become like a home. Even though I’ve made new friends, this experience for me was more about self-reflection and personal growth. I am proud of myself for immersing myself in different cultures and trying new things outside of my comfort zone. It opened my eyes and made me look at life in a different perspective. Be happy. Be free. Be confident. Do what makes you happy. Be humble. It’s okay if you make mistakes sometimes, because that is how we learn. Don’t stress about things you can’t change or be upset about things you don’t have. As long as you have God in your life, everything will work out. I know we hear all the time about people in this world dreaming of having half of the things that you have, but once you actually see it for yourself then you’ll truly learn to be grateful. I am proud of the person that I am becoming. I thank God for continually blessing me and allowing me to accomplish my dreams. I know this is only the beginning, so I can’t wait to see what else He has planned for me.

Katey McElroy

Photo of Katey McElroy

Bittersweet is the word that comes to mind when thinking about my departure from Italy back to America. I had never felt such a strong contradiction of emotions in one moment. Although I was eager to see my loved ones and be in the comfort of my own country, I didn’t want to leave. I fell in love with the country. I fell in love with traveling. Not only did I travel to Italy, I lived in Italy…for four months. I also visited nine countries and over twenty three different cities. I learned new languages, cultures and I learned more about myself. I tried new foods, took way too many pictures and I made new friends who I will keep for a lifetime. It was an experience I cannot put into words. Just like everyone else who has studied abroad, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Kiara Detwiller

Photo of Kiara Detwiller

What country should I go to? How much money should I bring? How will I navigate a foreign land? What if I’m homesick? These were all questions I asked about before making my decision to study abroad. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made! This experience has changed my life and made me grow as a person. I have become more independent and have learned to be more appreciative of life. The idea of traveling to a strange country where a different language is spoken may seem scary. However, this “strange” country becomes your home away from home. The cost is expensive and that’s the truth but it’s up to you on how much you spend. Good budgeting and planning is a plus and helped me stay within budget. People you meet abroad will become your new friends and family. This helped me during the rare moments I was homesick. I just had to remember that everyone around me was in the same boat. There were so many things to see and do that missing home was not a problem. I believe that everyone should study abroad and experience the world outside his or her own country.

Maria Marinaro

Photo of Maria Marinaro

Arriving in Italy I knew I made the right decision but at first it was hard to get adjusted because a lot of the people studying abroad with me had come with their friends where as I was totally on my own. Later I became grateful for because I went away with thirty strangers who after four months became family. Our group was like one that Monmouth had never encountered before; we decided that from day one we were going to stick together. People always told me about how many beautiful places I was going to see but they never told me about all of the beautiful connections I was going to make.

It’s hard to believe that my adventure is over but I don’t look at it like that. “Do not be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened.” This is the mentality that I have because every day that I’m back home I relive a moment I lived out in Europe. They say our experiences yesterday make us who we are today and I completely agree. Whenever I’m feeling sad or homesick of Europe I just think back to those warm nights looking out my window, taking in the most incredible sunsets. I was fortune to have been given an opportunity that many people my age or any age, never get to experience. I know that this isn’t the last adventure I’m going to have but with all the stories I tell it makes me feel that much closer to being there again. I truly believe that traveling leaves you speechless, and then turns you into a storyteller. “That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.”- Walt Disney

Melina Morel

Photo of Melina Morel

At first, the idea of living in a foreign country and not knowing the language scared me. I had no idea what to expect or what would happen once I arrived. What I did know, was that I was willing to take a chance and find out. I knew that this was the only opportunity I would get in college to do something as big as this. It was the biggest risk that I would take in my life and I’m very glad I did. Florence was the perfect city for me to study abroad in because it was not too big or too small in size. The people were nice and it is a city with so much history. It’s crazy to know that some of the most famous artists lived in Florence like Michelangelo and that many of his famous artworks are still kept there today. The most impressive piece of art I saw in Florence was the statue of David by Michelangelo. When I saw this sculpture in the Academia it literally took my breath away. During my time abroad I grew to love Florence and it became a part of me. For this reason Florence will forever be my second home.

Tatianna Castro

Photo of Tatianna Castro

How many people get to say that at the age of 20 they chose to live an opportunity that would forever change their view of the world? Coming from one of the poorest sectors of Cali Colombia, I never in a million years would have anticipated that I would be stepping onto a plane traveling to a continent that I had only heard about from friends and from which I had only seen pictures of in books. Who would have thought that me, the first to attend college in my family, would be traveling across the world to study in Florence on weekdays and explore Europe on the weekends. People sometimes ask me why I decided to study abroad and the first answer that comes out of my mouth is why not? You see, when I look back and relive in my mind all of the things that I experienced while abroad I cannot help but ask myself why in the world would you not? Why would you choose to stay where you have always been? Why not leave behind everything that you have ever known and make room for all of the things left in this world to learn about? I would really like to know why you would choose not to live. What else would we want to do in our 20s but to explore, to laugh, to meet, to taste, to see and to feel. Like seriously, why would you DECIDE not to feel alive? I’ve never felt as vulnerable, I’ve never felt so free, and yet I have never felt more alive.

Vincent Shockley

Photo of Vincent Shockley

Sophomore year, everything was going well. I had great grades in my classes, stayed out of trouble, and everything was still in line for me to be able to study abroad. That was not the case for most of my friends. My good friend was on the football team so study abroad was not really an option for him. The others ate up all their free electives and gen eds so they didn’t have that much wiggle room with their majors. For me it was really disappointing. Just by them not being able to go made me feel like I wasn’t able to go either. There was a part of me that didn’t want to leave my friends. I loved being on campus, I loved my work study job, and I even started telling myself that I didn’t want to miss out on a whole semester at school. Not until I went to the first step meetings and heard more stories and students who went through the same things with their friends did I realize that turning down this opportunity would be the biggest regret of my life. Now I can say that I have gained almost 200 new friends that I shared life changing experiences with. Study abroad has given me a whole new outlook on life, what is important, and a new level of self-awareness. I’ve done and seen things that I never would have thought I would do. I opened up to more people tried new things, and embraced numerous cultures. This experience has really given me a taste of adult life and responsibility. Study abroad has showed me there is so much out there to see in the world and gave me a new addiction to traveling and getting lost. Not only was I forced to find my way, but I found out a lot about myself. This is really cliché and I can’t believe I’m trying to explain what students before me have but believe me when I tell you that study abroad was THE best time of my life.

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Italy: Summer

Allison Ross

Photo of Allison Ross

This past summer I embarked on an unforgettable adventure to the country of Italy. I encountered a variety of different obstacles as well as new experiences that will change my spontaneous outlook on life for the better. Studying abroad helped me to broaden my horizons and also helped me to step out of my comfort zone for a little while. Being on your own in a completely different country really forces you to become an adult. Going into this experience, I did not go with any of my close friends. Now, the people that I spent this experience with are girls that I can call my best friends. With these group of girls we traveled all around Italy and even made a trip to Croatia. Everywhere we went the people were so genuine and fascinated by the American culture as we were with their culture. Now that I have had this experience in my life, I know that I am more capable of dealing with hardships as well as dealing with different situations. Studying abroad shows that you are a well-rounded person who is not afraid of change or of stepping out of his or her comfort zone. I highly recommend that you choose the summer program because I guarantee that you will have just as great as an experience as I did.

Brian Deo

Photo of Brian Deo

Through this study abroad experience in Italy, I have become more independent, mature and aware of cultural differences between different parts of the world, while developing friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. I learned that there are great differences between the life that I am used to and various European cultures, ranging from ideologies about work to family life and everything in between. My intercultural communication professor told me during my time abroad, “Italians work to live, not live to work.” These differences and similarities that are encountered while abroad have enabled me to develop a greater sense of self. This once and a lifetime opportunity cannot be summarized through pictures and videos, but only by living it yourself.

Grace Ward

Photo of Grace Ward

Before studying abroad, there was a part of me that had a fear of facing the unknown alone. Having the opportunity to study abroad this summer in Florence, Italy opened a window of excitement, new surroundings and an unforgettable experience, which broke that shell of fear and created a life memory I will never forget. I learned so many different things about myself while traveling to new places. I’ve learned immeasurable lessons and things about myself, my surroundings and new cultures and people. If I had the chance again I would do it and never think twice about it. I fell in love with the city of Florence and the people and culture that make it as wonderful as it is. I took every obstacle and challenge as a blessing and every new place and journey as a gift. I look forward to going back to Europe as my trip was too short, to embrace the life I was living there with the people I met, and to see more new things and meet new people.

Jacklyn Cito

Photo of Jacklyn Cito

The only way I can truly explain the influence of study abroad is with one quote: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Italy has forever changed my life as to the ideas of travel and seeing the world. Being able to walk on the same cobblestone streets as Da Vinci and Michelangelo is just an amazing experience. I have never traveled far so this study abroad experience was really my first trip anywhere outside of the states. I was hesitant at first to go to Italy, but thought to myself what’s holding me back: Nothing. I recommend this experience to everyone and anyone who was like me, a newbie to the whole travel experience. When will you ever get the chance to see the Coliseum, or even ride in a gondola, or swim within the turquoise waters of the mystical Blue Grotto. You can do all of this if you study abroad! Take the opportunity to see the world and take charge of your life and dreams. I know that for me Italy was a life changing experience, the only question is what will it do to you?

Jacqueline Duvally

Photo of Jacqueline Duvally

Studying abroad in Italy was one of the best decisions I made during my time at Monmouth. It made me grow into a stronger and independent person. I learned things about the world and met people from different countries that I would have never had the opportunity to do had I not studied abroad. I will never forget getting to wake up every day and go to class to learn how to cook food and pair it with wine. I learned so much from that class that I will always remember. My favorite weekend, our group of ten girls from Monmouth took a trip to the Amalfi Coast. We took a boat tour around the island of Capri and saw the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. Florence was the perfect location because everything is within walking distance and it was so easy to get on a train and travel to other cities. Some of my favorite memories of college are from Florence and the friends I made there, and we can’t wait to go back. Studying abroad was definitely a challenging experience but one of the best experiences of my life.

Jane Dustman

Photo of Jane Dustman

When asked about study abroad, there are no words that can truly express my feelings and time spent in Italy because everything I come up with is an understatement. Even though I was only there for a month, that month was jam packed with memories and experiences that one could only dream of having. Italy broke me out of my shell. Me, who is scared of heights, jumped off three, twenty-foot cliffs and plummeted into crystal clear water. I allowed the church bells to wake me up, instead of sleeping in, so I could go out and explore what Florence had to offer. There I was, in my own little world, a world I was not familiar with, just living day by day and accepting what was offered. And each place I visited taught me more about myself. Every sight and smell, new food and wine sampled, along with the amazing people I met was more exhilarating than the next. Life is a beautiful adventure that is meant to be explored and cherished, I’m so glad I had the opportunity.

Mariah Anderson

Photo of Mariah Anderson

While studying abroad in Florence, Italy, I experienced more than I ever thought I could in one summer; from living across the street from The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore to almost drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, my study abroad adventure was the greatest decision I have ever made. Being able to visit a country I had only seen in pictures was truly a dream come true. I learned so much during my time there, but I especially learned how to appreciate the little things in life. Whether it was finding a new route to class or spending an afternoon in a tiny, empty, hole-in-the-wall restaurant, every moment was a new experience. I will forever remember the friends I made, the places I went, and the one month I spent living abroad in Italy. Studying abroad was just the start to my travels, and I hope that one day I will have the chance to go back to visit the place I was lucky enough to call home for a month. Veni, vidi, vici, and I would do it all over again.

Michael Kelvy

Photo of Michael Kelvy

Studying abroad was most certainly the best thing that I have done in my college career. I had wanted to study abroad since my sister studied in England her junior year. It is an experience that you will never encounter again. Sure, you will travel throughout your life, and most people have taken vacations before, but when someone studies abroad they are on their own in an entirely different environment and it is a way for them to not only gain a new perspective and mature, but also to realize the comforts and advantages that we take for granted in the United States. I personally wanted to study in Italy because I am a history major, but by the time my study abroad period was over, I had learned so much more about their culture, mostly the food and wine. The best advice I could give to someone who is thinking about studying abroad is to stop thinking and just do it! If you can make the tough decision to leave your comfort zone, then you will easily succeed while you are abroad. I understand everyone is different, and for me, one month in Italy was enough. At the same time, that one month was one of the best of my life, and I will always remember the new friends and everlasting memories that I made while I was abroad.

Noel Labb

Photo of Noel Labb

Choosing to step out of my comfort zone, and live in a foreign country for 30 days by myself was hands down the best decision I have ever made in my life. When thinking back on my study abroad experience, there are so many wonderful memories I’m thankful for. From hiking up the mountains in Cinque Terre, walking 414 steps to the top of The Campanile bell tower in Florence, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, paragliding over the beautiful mountains in Interlaken, Switzerland, sliding down waterfalls in the canyons of Switzerland, to cliff jumping in the Amalfi Coast, I can’t help but have zero words for the amount of beauty and adventure I experienced in 1 short month. Thank you Florence for being my home away from home, bringing me to such amazing people and lifetime friendships, for this unforgettable experience, and giving me the time of my life!

Rebecca Colucci

Photo of Rebecca Colucci

It has been about a week since I’ve returned to the states and I still miss the view of cobblestone walkways outside my window and the smell of fresh pizza and baked goods as I wander through the narrow alleyways. I was blessed to have lived a very different life this past month. It is hard to put my experience into words because words cannot adequately describe this incredible journey. I lived just a few steps away from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence with three of my best friends. Every day was a new adventure! One of my favorite parts of living in Florence was that you could walk around the cobblestone streets and alleyways never getting lost because eventually you would recognize or see something familiar and find your way back home. I have always loved to travel but this study abroad experience truly opened my eyes to a whole new world. From the gondola rides in Venice, tossing coins in the Trevi Fountain in Rome, wine tasting in Tuscany, to cliff jumping into the clear turquoise waters in the Amalfi Coast, and raving at the Ultra Music Festival in Croatia; every day was a chance to make new memories. These cherished memories will remain with me forever and a city that was once unfamiliar to me, will forever hold a big part of my heart.

Taylor Nicoletti

Photo of Taylor Nicoletti

Studying abroad in Florence, Italy was one of the best decisions of my life. I knew I wanted to study abroad in high school but never knew where I wanted to travel. My father always wished he had studied abroad while he was in college. Once I learned about the Italy program at Monmouth, I began taking Italian classes to learn some of the language. I knew that studying abroad created friendships, experiences, and forever memories. I wouldn’t change my month studying abroad for anything. I only wish that it were longer. The summer program is great but I would’ve loved to go for an entire semester. Studying abroad has even improved my resume. Studying abroad has so many benefits that I wish I could go again. I experienced a culture like no other and fell in love with the country of Italy. I cannot wait to go back soon!

Taylor Pook

Photo of Taylor Pook

Studying abroad has taught me so much about myself as a person. It taught me what independence really was and that getting lost wasn’t always a bad thing. Spending time in Italy has forced me out of the Bergen County bubble, as my town calls it. It showed me there is good and not so good people in the world, and not to let my fear of those different from myself, keep me from exploring. Early on I thought studying abroad was just an excuse to travel but there’s something about going to school, living in one place and being able to refer to it as home that makes traveling so different. Having Florence as a home base from our travels allowed me to get to know the Panini guy downstairs and that girl who is always at the same bar on a Monday night. It may not seem like much, but forming that sense of community makes leaving that much harder.

Tori May

Photo of Tori May

Having the opportunity to study abroad has truly been one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime. Being able to fully immerse myself into the Italian culture has truly given me a new perspective and independence that I did not have before. One of the most important things I learned is that I am not Italian! I have learned that it is more correct to say that I am an Italian-American. This is because I have come to realize the difference between the Italian and American culture and the overlap of practices that make me in the Italian-American category. I would recommend that anyone interested in studying abroad take advantage of this experience study abroad during the Summer. I felt like the Summer session was just the right amount of time for me to be away from home without feeling homesick. I would also recommend that students live as close to other Monmouth Students as you can, even if you do not know them because within the first week they will become some of your best friends.

Veronica Amaya-Garcia

Photo of Veronica Amaya-Garcia

Studying abroad was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. This was definitely the most life changing time of my life. Many things were going on in my life around the same time we were about to embark our journey to Italy. I was excited to just get away and escape all of my worries and problems. Going into this experience, I did not expect to grow and change as much as I did. Being in a different country where the values are different than your own, you begin to realize that the things you put so much emphasis on sometimes don’t really even matter. The experience was absolutely unforgettable. The friendships I made with students from different schools and locals were ones that I will always remember and cherish. My advice for future students is to always have an open mind going into this experience. Studying abroad is a great opportunity for people to break out of their shells and put themselves out there. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, try new things, and let yourself fully experience the culture. This is an amazing experience that should be taken advantage of to the fullest.

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Alex Lustig

Photo of Alex Lustig

After a rough freshman year of college at another school, I transferred to Monmouth University in hopes of a better college experience. While I did like Monmouth much more, I never made the solid group of friends I would have liked to since I was a commuter and did not join any clubs. My Dad suggested I study abroad, and I decided to try it. I have never had such a truly memorable experience in my life. I have seen some amazing places and met some amazing people through this program. I highly recommend studying abroad to any student.

Bryan Cucinotta

Photo of Bryan Cucinotta

My trip to Cádiz taught me so many life lessons that I don’t even know where I could start and when (or whenever) I would be able to finish! Through a small amount of time of six weeks, I have formed bonds and friendships with almost every single person who traveled with me that will last a life time, I learned to appreciate and love the little things about a different culture that I wish were present in the United States (I want my siesta back), and memories that I will cherish forever. I studied abroad to further improve my Spanish-speaking skills and to put it on my résumé-which I can say that I can do-but what I had not counted on was having an experience where I could say that there is a special place for Cádiz in my heart.

Christina Gonzalez

Photo of Christina Gonzalez

Going to Spain was truly a life changing experience. I would give everything in the world to be back on the Caleta and the ability to go to the Cathedral bakery one more time. Being in Spain helped me find myself. It showed me that I can be independent and that I can conquer anything that I put my mind too. I had an experience of a lifetime that I would not anyone to take away from me. As my time in Spain came to end, I realized that I gained 17 friends, self-confidence and an amazing time. I think having a great group helped make my experience spectacular. We became like a family and we could depend on each other for anything and everything. I would go back to Spain every summer if I could.

Jennifer Stessel

Photo of Jennifer Stessel

My main and number one piece of advice would be to enjoy every single moment of the trip. From the days before you leave until the moment you get back to the USA. When you’re away you don’t realize how quickly time moves and how fast six weeks goes by. I would do just about anything to go back to those six weeks and live them over again. For me studying abroad was the most rewarding experience of my life and I am so grateful that I got to experience it. I would recommend this trip to anyone and I seriously hope that more students decide to study abroad for the pure enjoyment they will forever have in their memories.

Jessica Deigert

Photo of Jessica Deigert

Studying abroad in Cádiz, Spain for 6 magical weeks was the greatest adventure of my life. The location, people, travel and more can never be replaced. I not only improved my Spanish speaking, but I learned a lot about myself. I now have full faith in myself to travel anywhere and know that I can do it! I even got over my fear of flying and heights from all of the travelling that I was able to accomplish! On day one, I felt worried and lost. On the final day, I could not hold back the tears because of our departure. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. I still have trouble looking at photos from my trip, because the memories are so bittersweet. I never realized how much that this place would mean to me until it was over. My time there meant something and I knew it the entire way, but leaving is where it hit me the hardest. Cádiz, Spain has a lifelong place in my heart.

Krista Varanyak

Photo of Krista Varanyak

Looking back on my time in Spain, it is extremely difficult for me to sum up my experience in a couple hundred words. I learned and lived through so many new and exciting times while in Cádiz. I made friends with complete strangers, lived with a family who only spoke Spanish, and have enough memories to write for days. I can also honestly say that each day I did something I had never done before: whether it was trying a new food, learning a new Spanish phrase, visiting one of the beautiful sites, or even taking a surfing lesson! Although for the most part, we knew what to expect each day, there was always room for an unexpected surprise. For me, that was the best part of the trip: not knowing what would happen next, but at the same time feeling completely comfortable in the unknown.

Peter Linn

Photo of Peter Linn

In the six weeks I spent in Spain, I felt as though I had enough time to do everything I really wanted. I never felt like I was in abroad for too long or felt too homesick. Also, in just six weeks you can fulfill six credits which is close to one half of the credits for a full semester for most students. Through the process of traveling, packing and living in a completely new culture you start to feel like an adult with responsibilities you may not have ever had in America. Lastly, I would recommend it because it was the most fun I’ve ever had while attending school. We had a schedule which lay out all of our activities and meeting times, however, we also had the free time if we desired to either go to the beach or roam through the city. It really was an unforgettable summer and I am so glad I chose to go through with this big decision.

Rachel Werner

Photo of Rachel WernerEven when I was applying to schools I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I had taken college level Spanish classes in high school but I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with Spanish classes. When I was looking into the study abroad programs that Monmouth University offered I was limited because I am an athlete at Monmouth and cannot leave school during the year. I decided on Spain and then came to the conclusion that I should continue my education in the language and add a minor in Spanish. I had known that I wanted to study abroad for a long time, but considering the experience itself, I had no idea what to expect. Unlike some other people that I know that had studied abroad, I was not nervous in the slightest bit. I was nothing but excited and ready to go for the whole month of summer leading up to the flight from JFK. And from that flight on, I had a permanent smile on my face for the next six weeks.

I loved every minute in Spain, I loved all of the fairs and festivals and nights out. I would recommend this experience to anyone and everyone. Everyone should feel like I did about this little, poor, quaint city in Spain. Everybody should get the opportunity to have the feeling of waiting every minute to return to somewhere, like I have been since the minute the bus drove us over the bridge to the airport, since I bawled my eyes out saying goodbye to my Madre, since that last morning at the beach. I have always been someone that wants to see everything the world has to offer. I am fascinated by different cultures and the different ways of life people have. I never thought that an experience would make me want to go to the same place twice. But Study Abroad in Cadiz, has done just that.

Samantha Gross

Photo of Samantha Gross

One of the biggest concerns among people studying abroad is how they are going to stay in constant contact with the outside world. From the outside, people are shocked when they hear what happened to me the first day and how I “survived.” The very first day in Cádiz, I lost my “precious” phone. Until this point in my life my phone was my lifeline. It was my lifeline to my family, my friends, and the rest of the world. Losing my phone was one of the best things that could have happened to me personally. I learned so much about people, the world, and myself because I was not being sucked into the constant need for Wi-Fi everywhere we went. Every building has incredible architecture that you would not believe was done by hand! The paintings in even the smallest restaurants are spectacular! My favorite thing to do was sit on the beach or in a plaza and just watch and listen to the people enjoying life in a completely different way than we do in America.

While most of the group was texting, tweeting, or instagramming every chance they got for Wi-Fi, I was observing our surroundings and all there was to take in Cádiz. There is so much history and so many things that are uniquely special to these ancient countries that we miss out on while we are so focused on what is happening at home. I know that if I had my phone during this trip, I would be the exact same way as all of peers. I would be searching for Wi-Fi and missing a lot of the little things that gave Cádiz a special place in my heart. This experience would not have been so special to me if I had a phone that I was so focused on.

Now that I am home I have found my self to be significantly less focused and reliant on my phone. If I leave my phone upstairs for a couple hours, that is fine with me because whatever it is, it can wait. I needed to learn that life isn’t about getting the most likes or knowing constantly what everyone else is doing. It’s about experiencing the here and now and not letting precious opportunities pass.

Samantha Velardi

Photo of Samantha Velardi

By studying abroad I learned so much about myself and the world around me. I learned to be more independent and confident in many situations. I discovered that it is important to try new things, especially things that you might be nervous to do. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have made. I made so many new friends and created memories with people I will never forget. I wanted to study abroad so I could experience living in a different country and take in the different culture. Study abroad has definitely changed my life because I feel like I have become more knowledgeable as to how others live and I have learned that it is so important to step out of your comfort zone and try new things

Sara Reis

Photo of Sara Reis

In the six weeks I spent in Spain, I can say that I lived with a Spanish family and spoke nothing but Spanish to them and the rest of the locals. I attended a university, and took challenging classes by the most amazing professors (who I hugged and cried with when I had to say goodbye). I traveled all over southern Spain, visited glorious historical landmarks, and learned everything there is to know about architecture, art, and history. In six weeks I walked over 100 miles and drank thousands of liters of water. I traveled to Ibiza for a weekend, danced until five in he morning with some of my closest friends, and jet skied through the Mediterranean (and even lost an earring in it!). I ate the best, authentic food, tried different kinds of wine, and ate olives every. Single. Day. I set goals, and I reached them. I accomplished all of these amazing things before my 21st birthday.

If you have the slightest desire to study abroad, JUST DO IT. There is nothing to be afraid of. You’ll probably change as a person, because after you live in a foreign country for a long period of time, your perceptions about others, the world, and yourself will change. You may actually find the ‘you’ that you have been looking for.

I can’t promise you anything about your experience, but I can DEFINITELY promise that you WILL regret it if you don’t go. ¡Viva la España