8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Studied Abroad

By Meghan Stark, Abroad Alumna: Spring 2017 University College Dublin

  1. Get ready for some new tastes

As a pretty picky eater, I figured going abroad was going to be tough on my limited palate, but once I opened up to the local tastes I realized I could find some super tasty things! I felt closer to my new home when I could appreciate the local cuisine.

  1. Be a penny pincher

You already know that living in another country is going to come with some added expenses, but it’s important to remember that if you’re studying abroad you can’t get a job for some extra cash on the side. So save extra for those “what if” moments.

  1. Be vigilant

Being cautious should be an everywhere rule, but it’s especially important while abroad. Your passport and credit cards are your lifeline because you’re oceans away from your home bank! Carry your credit cards close to your body in an over the shoulder bag. Keep your passport locked in your room unless traveling, and make a copy of it to carry with you during your day-to-day travels.

  1. Research!

I wish I researched the city I was living/studying in more extensively rather than the cities I was just visiting for a few days.

  1. Interact with the locals

They’re your new neighbors! I wish I knew how enriching it was to get to know the people in my new home.

  1. Keep a journal or a blog

I wish I had kept some type of log of my journey from the beginning. It was so special to look back on the way other students decided to commemorate their abroad experience and I wish I had done the same!

  1. Public transit RULES

Research your city’s options for public transport! I wish I knew how easy getting around town in a foreign place could be.

  1. Get out and explore!

You’re living in an incredible international city – get to know that city! Then get to know the country you’re living in – explore places off the beaten track. And then visit the surrounding countries! Before I went abroad, I wish I knew how rewarding international travel could be. You’re on your own in a brand new country, and you learn so much about yourself. Have fun!


Spring 2018 Gilman Winners Announced

Congratulations to all 11 Syracuse Abroad students who received Gilman Scholarships for their abroad programs this spring! Eleven students is a sharp uptick from the six students who received awards for the fall 2017 semester. In addition to the 11 winners, two students were named as alternates. The total amount won by the students is $46,500!

The Gilman Scholarship Program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide. We encourage all Syracuse Abroad students who meet the qualifications to apply for awards that can reach up to $8,000!

The next deadline (for summer/fall 2018 programs) is March 6, 2018.

Our spring 2018 winners are:

Khemiah Burke: University of New South Wales (SU World Partner)
Amy Chasse: Syracuse University Florence
Abigail Covington: Syracuse University Florence
Whitney Ize-Iyamu: Syracuse University Hong Kong
Jasmine Kim: Syracuse University Hong Kong
Minjung Kim: Syracuse University London
Kristine Klein: Syracuse University Santiago
Sidne Norman: Syracuse University Beijing
Phebeana Ojomoses: Syracuse University Beijing
Daniel Salomon: DIS Copenhagen (SU World Partner)
Aja Selbach-Broad: CET Film Production at FAMU (SU World Partner)

Dina Ben-Nissan: Syracuse University London
William Kirsch: Syracuse University Hong Kong

Strasbourg: There and Back Again (Là et Retour)

By Libby Bingham

Thirty years is a long time; some may even say it is a lifetime. And if you want to maintain a relationship, it is a lot of hard work. But that’s exactly what we were able to do. 

This year, my friend, Karin, and I celebrated our 50th birthdays and we wanted to do something big to mark the occasion. We are both married, her with two boys, me with one. We both work full-time in metropolitan cities and are generally exhausted. But 50 years calls for something big. 

Thirty years ago, we were both year-long students with SU Abroad (then called the Division of International Programs Abroad, or DIPA). We had both been studying French and were accepted into the Strasbourg program, where we would be living with a host family for a full year. When we arrived, the director asked if there were any volunteers to “buddy up” so we shrugged and said, pourquoi pas? As we met our host mother, Monique (Mo for short) for the first time, she looked at us and said, “huh, I thought you would be boys.” We were not (we are not), but we did become known in our house as La Petite et La Grande. 

We spent a lot of time with Mo: we ate breakfasts and dinners together; we visited her sons and met her first grandchild in Paris; we traveled in and out of quaint Alsacian towns and villages; we went pottery shopping together; we drank wine and ate tarte flambée; we were special guests at her “English Speaking Community”; she took us to hear Handel’s Messiah performed live at L’Eglise St. Paul; she went with us to Germany to watch a German movie about Wagner with French subtitles; at home we watched bad French variety shows and talked about the U.S. stock market crash; she helped us through parental health scares and the death of a beloved aunt; she corrected our French and scolded us for staying out late and hanging out with boys instead of studying. She was – in every way – family. 

We were both fortunate enough to have our American families come visit at different times of the year. Mo was a warm and generous hostess and our relationship with her expanded. When we left Strasbourg, she came and visited us in our respective U.S. homes. We each went back to Strasbourg to visit her on separate occasions with husbands or friends. Every year, Karin would send her a Christmas card with pictures of her family (I was more hit or miss, making every 2 – 3 years). When Karin and I would gather with our own families every summer, we’d be sure to take a photo and send it to her. I would, occasionally, get up the guts to write her a newsy letter in (horrible) French. We did our best to stay in touch. 

But time marches on and we all continue to age. For Monique, who had always had problems with her hips and knees, her health issue became limited mobility. Gone were the days of traveling to the U.S., zipping around France in her Toyota, and (eventually) even walking. We would hear from her or her sons about various surgeries and recoveries in the South of France. But this last time, she suffered a post-surgical infection and her recovery was somewhat dicey; not surprising for someone who is 85 years old, but worrisome nonetheless. Karin and I decided we needed to return to Strasbourg. 

And so, on the occasion of our 50th birthdays, we decided to travel back for our 30th Strasbourg anniversary to spend time with Monique and conduct our own Nostalgia Tour (no husbands or sons allowed!). Preparation was cumbersome as Monique does not have email and our French has deteriorated over time, but we managed – with the help of her technologically savvy sons – to make arrangements to visit her for about a week. She invited us to stay with her, which we gratefully and eagerly accepted. 

When we arrived, all the memories came flooding back: same street, same door, same elevator to get upstairs, and when the door opened…same Mo! It was truly like coming home. Familiar furniture, turns of phrase, and smells allowed our memories to open up. Things that we had forgotten came flooding back, including our French (much diminished but not completely lacking); every turn of a street sparked an image or story. It was truly a journey of rediscovery, whether it was our favorite café, finding the DIPA center, or stopping at Mo’s boulangerie. 

While we stayed with her, we asked for all the stories behind her knick-knacks and paintings, and went through all of her old photo albums together. They were full of all the photos Karin and I had been sending for thirty years, plus photos of us as twenty-year old students and some of her other hosted students, of whom there were many. But not all of them continued strong over the course of the years, with most petering out after just one or two photos of a marriage or the birth of a child. There was one student who rivaled us in amount of space earned in the albums, but very few who came after us in the chronology. We discussed this with Mo and realized that our bond with her was unique – as she mentioned on that first day, she thought we would be boys. Mo raised three boys of her own and as a result, she always hosted male students. When we came along, she had hosted one girl for just a short period, a summer program of some sort; our longevity was unique and new. We were able to give her a glimpse into what a mother-daughter relationship might look like, how the companionship of women is something different from men and how the tie is made of different material. We had a year together to forge this bond and it has lasted for thirty years. 

We will continue to send her pictures, write grammatically incorrect letters and make nearly unintelligible phone calls, but we will probably never again have the opportunity to spend quality in-person time with our French host mother. We are grateful for the time we’ve had together and the humor, lessons and texture that our year with Mo has added to our lives. Thank you, Syracuse University, for providing the back-drop for our experience. We each have our own personalities and curiosity about people which serves to make each of our lives rich and interesting. But we believe that 1987 – 1988 was a time of deep connection spent learning about a people, a language, and a culture that has enabled us to approach every life experience with an eye towards long-lasting impact, not the least of which is on our relationship with Mo and our friendship with each other. 

Libby Bingham, DIPA 1987, SU 1989 

Karin Pearson, DIPA 1987, SU 1989 

Syracuse Florence Calcetto Wins Tournament!

Each semester, Syracuse Florence students compete against other American study abroad students in a calcetto (five-on-five soccer) tournament. The Fall 2017 team came in first in the 25th edition of the Fiorenza International School Cup! Alessandro Pugliese, the captain of the team, won MVP of the tournament.

A big thank you goes to Alessandro and Taylor Watson, who was captain of the second Syracuse team. On behalf of all the players, a very special thank you to Coach Alessandro Verri, who helped guide them to victory! Forza ‘Cuse!

Fall 2017 Calcetto Tournament Teams:

SYRACUSE A: Alessandro Pugliese (Captain), Joey Lino, Olivia Arboneaux, Rachel Maglio, Alana Franceski, Jessie Goodman, John Banner, Ben Lefkowitz, Lorenzo Bellini (Syracuse Staff)

SYRACUSE 1: Taylor Watson (Captain), Sierra Mortimer, Kiran Ramsey, Lillian Tsegaye, Katelyn Bajorek, Nate Raphael, Ian Masters, Sang Ha Jung, Gui Vendemiatti, Richard Holway, Suzanne Finnerty, Rachel Bortman

Global Ambassador Profile: Jessie Santillian

""By Meghan Stark

Syracuse Abroad: Where are you from?

Jessie: Lacey, Washington (outside of Seattle)

What made you decide to come to Syracuse?

It kept showing up on a lot on College Confidential and other sites. I wanted to one-up my brother and sister, who had gone to college on the other side of Washington.

What’s your major?

Political science. It was originally earth science

What made you decide to go abroad your first semester on the Discovery Florence program?

I always loved the idea of traveling even though I didn’t do a lot of it. I always watched a lot of Travel Channel. Also I figured if it cost the same to go to Syracuse versus abroad, I should go to Italy. I was already not gonna know anyone at Syracuse so I might as well not know anyone in Florence.

Do you have any advice for those going abroad their first semester?

Appreciate where you are and explore your own backyard. Florence had so many great museums that were incredible to explore. Some tourist things are really popular just because they’re actually awesome. Also to just travel outside your home country – I went to Amsterdam on fall break and absolutely loved it.

Do you have a favorite memory from abroad?

On one of our last nights, my roommate and I went out for food and got all the expensive foods we didn’t get a chance to try during our trip.


Jessie Santillan, a senior in political science, is an innovator in the field of mini-bios. In his early years, Jessie decided that his default “fun fact” would be that his favorite Netflix show is Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting.” This long-time wearer of wool socks and Washington State resident has had minimal issues adapting to the Syracuse Snow™. When he graduates this spring, he hopes to finally have time to start the second season of Stranger Things.

Top 5 Weekend Trips from the Syracuse London Center

By Meghan Stark

You’re currently thriving in London, but need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city? London is close to so many incredible weekend getaways that make taking a breather from the city noise affordable and fun!

  1. York

It’s got castles, museums, and even a whole center devoted to Vikings! How could you not want to take a quick trip to the countryside to see this quaint town? A quick two-hour train ride transports you from the metropolis of London to the romantic, historic city of York. Perfect for a weekend getaway!

  1. Bath

Looking to see some of the UK’s most history-rich sites? Look no further than Bath! It’s specifically known for it’s Roman baths. Roman baths look like big, beautiful swimming pools where people would historically bathe and socialize. Bath is full of history and beauty and is only a 90 minute train ride from London’s Paddington Station.

  1. Peak District

The Peak District is known for its beautiful stately homes. Chatsworth House was used as the residence of Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Darcy. It’s not too long of a train ride, just three hours north of London. It’s also home to a national park that’s rich in history and natural beauty.

  1. Cornwall

Way west, Cornwall is a great beach trip to get away from the hustle of London. There are endless walking trails and sandy beaches, along with great seafood. You can surf there, too! A great change of pace from the city. Definitely a longer train ride, but totally worth it.

  1. Edinburgh

While Scotland’s Edinburgh may be a bit further away it’s totally worth the trip. Check out this gothic gem north of London and experience the castles and charm of Scotland’s capital. Known for its parades and the Edinburgh Castle, you can even see the pub where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. It’s a 7 hour train ride from London or a cheap hour flight.

National study finds that study abroad has a direct impact on skills needed for career success

The study, conducted by the Institute for International Education, included the input of Syracuse Abroad alumni. It investigates the connection between study abroad programs and the development of skills that contribute to employment and career development in today’s workforce. The study was released at the IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad in Washington, DC on October 2, and the full report can be downloaded at www.iie.org/employability.  The study shows that studying abroad for longer periods of time has a high impact on subsequent job offers and career advancement as well as the development of foreign language and communication skills.

A key takeaway: Among alumni who studied abroad for one academic year, 68 percent reported studying abroad contributing to a job offer or promotion.

Syracuse Abroad hosts alumni gathering in Boston

Last month, Syracuse Abroad, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations, hosted a reception at the State Room in downtown Boston, Mass. for its alumni in the greater Boston area. It was a chance for alumni to mingle with one another, to stay up-to-date on the latest developments from the Syracuse Abroad office, and to listen to Professor Randall Korman share his memories from 30 years of teaching Syracuse University students abroad. Paul Miller ’09 and Michael Messina ’98 also spoke at the event about the lasting impression study abroad experiences leave on students long after they return to the United States.

Further abroad alumni receptions are scheduled for 2018! The first will be held in Washington, DC in June – keep an eye on your email for an invite in spring 2018!

Syracuse Abroad expands its global footprint in the 2017-18 academic year

The Syracuse Abroad office is proud of its commitment to expanding to offering students a wide range of abroad programs that meet their academic needs. A robust list of summer programs, ranging from three to nine credits, changes each year. Exciting new programs have been announced for summer 2018: A course examining the geography of wine and beer along the Franco-German border, an architecture course focused on public transportation issues in Guatemala City, a public health course examining issues of public health and drug abuse offered just over the border in Vancouver, Canada, and a course that takes students to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal to examine the effects of high altitude in human beings.

At the same time, changes are underway at the Syracuse Abroad centers: engineering courses are now offered for second-year students in Strasbourg and Florence, computer science and information technology courses are available in London, and a new Discovery first-year study abroad program for engineers will launch at the Madrid Center in fall 2018.

All told, Syracuse University students can now choose from 100 programs in 60 countries. We can’t wait to introduce you to them!

9 Ways to Combat Homesickness While You’re Abroad

By Meghan Stark

1) Facetime is your best friend

None of the data usage, all of the sentimentality. Facetiming or Skyping your family and friends can relieve some of the homesickness you’ve been feeling, as seeing their faces can make you feel more connected than just hearing their voices.

2) Eat something that reminds you of home

Make something that warms your belly and your heart; eating food you usually eat at home can help connect you to home and the kitchens you love.

3) Keep familiar things around

Maybe it’s a stuffed animal or a sweatshirt from your favorite vacation spot, but keep important things close to you to foster a sense of home in your new location.

4) Pictures

Pictures of EVERYONE! Your parents, dogs, siblings, friends, anything that reminds you of happy times in a happy place, print it out and hang it up! You’ll be surprised how much visual suggestion can make you feel at home.

5) Movies/Music

While it’s awesome to get into the cultural scene of your new home, music and movies from home are a big comfort and reminder that you’ll always appreciate the music and movies you grew up with. Stream your favorite local radio station, see what movies they have on their respective Netflix (Yes, other countries have Netflix – it’s pretty wild!). Remind yourself of what made you dance or laugh when you were home, and chances are it will still make you laugh while abroad.

6) Visit friends

Chances are, you know other people studying abroad right now. Plan a weekend trip to go see them! A familiar face can do wonders.

7) Avoid obsession or romanticizing

While home is GREAT, there are hardships there as well.  It’s possible your longing for something familiar is stopping you from remembering that if you were home right now you’d still have to do homework, go to work, and do other things you’re probably not crazy about. But you don’t get the added bonus of getting to travel to other countries on the weekend.

8) Learn the language

Maybe one of the reasons you’re feeling out of place is because there’s a barrier between you and your new neighbors. Learning some basics of your new home can help connect you to the people and culture of the city you’re studying in.

9) Explore your new home

The best way to combat homesickness? Make a home where you are now. Explore your city, eat the local food, get to know the streets and people. Make new happy memories in this new place. By the time you leave, you’ll be homesick for where you went abroad.