Florence Global Ambassadors

Jill FabianoName: Jillian Fabiano ’20

Hometown: Weymouth, MA

Major: Undeclared

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What did you wish you had known before going abroad? It is a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be. Going as a sophomore, and not knowing anyone else in the program, I had the fear of, “what if I don’t make any friends?” Those fears disappeared as soon as I got to the airport. I instantly realized how friendly everyone on the program was and how everyone was in the same boat as me. I thought that it was going to be all juniors from SU that had friendships already established, but that was not the case at all. I have shared some of my favorite memories with the friends that I met abroad, and I know that they are friends that I will have for the rest of my life. (We have already talked about how there is going to be a “Florence” table for everyone to sit at each of our weddings!)

Contact: jafabian@syr.edu

Julia RileyName: Julia Riley ’20

Hometown: Ossining, NY

Majors: Chemistry and neuroscience

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? I’ve taken Italian for about eight years now and my roommate had a similar background, and since my host mother didn’t really speak or understand English we spoke only Italian at home. The result was incredible; throughout those four months, I went from stumbling awkwardly through sentences to feeling like I could really express myself in Italian– sometimes, it felt, in ways that I wouldn’t even be able to otherwise because of the existence of certain words and moods that simply don’t exist in the English language. Both my appreciation for the language and culture and the hands-on lessons I learned through Italian history about the need to actively participate in society to promote good in the world will stay ingrained in me for years to come.

Contact: juriley@syr.edu

Name: Taylor Watson ’19

Hometown: Utica, NY

Major: Magazine journalism

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What was your most unforgettable experience abroad? I attended a meeting about student life activities in the beginning of the semester, and they told us the school has a soccer team that anyone can join. I love soccer, but hadn’t played since high school. I saw it as a great opportunity to reignite my passion and dive into the Italian “calcio” culture. I signed up and showed up to the field for the first day of practice. I didn’t know anyone else there, but we were all eager to play the game. Some people had clearly been the star of their high school teams, some people were playing for the first time, and others were there to get some exercise, but we all shared enthusiasm.

Contact: tnwatson@syr.edu

Name: Inbar Porat ’19

Hometown: Westborough, MA

Major: English and textual studies

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What did you wish you had known before going abroad? I wish I knew to pack MUCH less stuff. Not necessarily because you won’t need it all (which is true, you won’t), but because you’re probably going to buy a lot of stuff when you’re there, and you won’t want to leave anything behind. And nothing is less fun than dragging around heavy and extra bags through the airport with the risk that they might not make it on the plane.

Contact: iporat@syr.edu

Name: Giulia Milana ’19

Hometown: Glen Head, NY

Majors: Broadcast & digital journalism and Italian language, literature, and culture

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? I was in the Intensive Language Program and it was the greatest experience of my life. I was able to fully immerse myself in the Italian culture. I met people from all over the world: Russia, Japan, Korea, Argentina, etc. The beauty of the course was that nobody spoke English so I didn’t have it to fall back on. I was forced to speak, read, listen, and write in Italian because that was our only common language.

Contact: gmmilana@syr.edu

Name: Sarah Hodgens ’19

Hometown: Mendon, MA

Majors: Psychology and Art history

Visiting college: Boston College

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? About a week before Thanksgiving, my host family asked if they could speak to me. It was one of the most thoughtful and genuine moments of my experience in Florence. They sat me down and told me that they knew how important Thanksgiving was to me, and asked me if I would join them for a celebration at one of their American friend’s apartments. On the day of Thanksgiving we went to the friend’s apartment and where there was a beautiful turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and every other traditional Thanksgiving food that you could think of! We told stories, we gave thanks, we laughed, and we made so many wonderful memories. The whole set of events that occurred was something that I could have never imagined happening when I first set my sights on studying in Florence.

Contact: hodgensb@bc.edu

Name: Alana Franceski ’19

Hometown: Fort Edward, NY

Majors: Forensic science, anthropology, and biology

Semester abroad: Fall 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? It was about a month and a half into the semester and I was feeling more confident with my Italian. While I was waiting, a man and his mother approached the bus stop. They quietly argued and then asked me a question about the bus schedule. I responded in Italian and then we had a conversation about where the mother was going and why I was in Italy. It was an amazing feeling to finally feel confident about speaking Italian and feeling like I belonged there.

Contact: alfrance@syr.edu

Kim EvansName: Kim Evans ’18

Hometown: Berkeley Heights, NJ

Majors: Math and Economics

Visiting college: Lafayette College

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? Go! Going abroad was an incredible opportunity and experience and I am so happy that I decided to do it. By going abroad, I learned so much about myself, other people, cultures, languages, and the world. I was able to realize what I truly like and enjoy as well as learn about new interests that I have not discovered yet. It also put a lot of aspects of life in a new perspective. There is the fear of going somewhere you have never been and are not familiar with at all, but you will be surprised by how easy you find yourself navigating the streets of a foreign city. Being lost allows you to discover some hidden treasures and to interact more with the locals.

Contact: evanska@lafayette.edu

Izmailia SougoufaraName: Izmailia Sougoufara ’20

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Majors: Neuroscience and biology

Semesters abroad: Fall 2016 (Discovery Florence); Summer 2017 (Paris Noir)

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? This is not an opportunity you want to pass up and constantly wonder how your life would have been different if you hadn’t. All the places you’ll see, things you’ll learn, and people you’ll meet are irreplaceable. Aside from the specific skills you’ll gain like learning a new language, being exposed to a new culture, and learning to navigate in a new space, you will begin broadening your perspective and forming a more adaptable mindset. Studying abroad gives you an edge, makes you unique and sets you apart from your future competition.

Contact: isougouf@syr.edu

Satoko MiiName: Satoko Mii ’18

Hometown: Yorktown Heights, NY

Major: Information management and technology

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most unforgettable experience abroad? The day trips offered throughout the semester allowed me to explore different parts of Italy with friends safely and inexpensively. I particularly enjoyed the Pienza and Montepulciano day trip. I would never forget the town made of charming buildings with rich history surrounded by bright beautiful shades of green and clear blue sky. And of course, the wine from Montepulciano was unforgettable as well!

Contact: smii@syr.edu

Matt MichelineName: Matthew Micheline ’19

Hometown: Airmont, NY

Major: Civil engineering

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What do you wish you had known before going abroad? I knew this experience was going to be none like I’ve ever had, and I sincerely wanted to figure it out on my own. I wanted to make friends on my own, I wanted to travel to places I’ve never been, I wanted to experience new and exciting foods, and I wanted to see how people across the pond live. The entire trip for me has been one large learning experience and I’m happy with how prepared or unprepared I was.

Contact: mmicheli@syr.edu

Jenna SalomonName: Jenna Salomon ’18

Hometown: White Plains, NY

Major: Public relations

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What would you say to a student undecided about studying abroad? If they’re afraid of being too far away from home or missing out on life on campus, there is an entire support system for you abroad and you will make fantastic memories that will stay with you forever. The people you meet, cultures you experience, and places you explore will truly surpass any expectations.

Contact: jmsalomo@syr.edu

Julia PopeName: Julia Pope ’18

Hometown: Newfields, NH

Major: Communications and rhetorical studies

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? During my time abroad, I stayed with one grandmother. Our Nonna did an amazing job encouraging us to embrace the Italian culture in order to make the most of our abroad experience. She challenged us to speak Italian as much as possible, learn to cook the Italian way, and live conservatively like many Italians do. Living in a home stay truly gave my abroad experience a ‘home away from home’ feeling.

Contact: jhpope@syr.edu

Crystal HawleyName: Crystal Hawley ’18

Hometown: Winnetka, IL

Majors: Marketing management and Advertising

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most unforgettable experience abroad? Going to Sicily with the Italian Mafia Class was the most unforgettable experience. It allowed me to see a very different part of Italy and experience unique things like working on a vineyard.

Contact: cshawley@syr.edu

Stephanie HaberName: Stephanie Haber ’18

Hometown: Plainview, NY

Major: Nutrition

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most unforgettable experience abroad? The day I made lasagna noodles with my host dad. It was one of the most difficult, but rewarding things I had ever done in my entire life. We made the noodles from scratch. We worked for over an hour, maybe even 2 hours kneading and kneading and putting it through the pasta maker. It was the best bonding experience we had. The end product tasted AMAZING, I cannot stress that enough, but it taught me the value of perseverance, hard work, and how important it is to spend time with family. When I came home from Italy, I appreciated my family a lot more and made more of an effort to be present when we were altogether.

Contact: sdhaber@syr.edu

Caroline PlanteName: Caroline Plante ’18

Hometown: Waterville Valley, NH

Major: Food Studies

Semesters abroad: Spring 2015 (Ecuador) Spring 2017 (Florence)

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? I don’t know when else in our lives it will be possible to drop everything and move to a country of your choosing for several months. It is one thing to be a tourist in a country and see the culture, but it is an entirely different experience to become a part of that culture, to learn the language and customs, and become friends with locals. You will be with a group of students who are in the exact same situation as you, and venturing into a new experience together creates friendships that will last a lifetime.

Contact: cbplante@syr.edu

Alex ErdekianName: Alex Erdekian ’18

Hometown: Wayland, MA

Major: Magazine

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? Developing a close relationship with my host mom, Loretta. She spoke zero English, and when I arrived I spoke zero Italian. Soon enough we were pointing out common things and laughing about them, and communicating non-verbally. Even sooner, she began pointing to different things and saying their Italian word, teaching me her language from the very start. My roommate, her, and I all became very close and were able to have fun conversations, especially during meals. It was so rewarding as well to meet her kids and grandkids and increase my interactions with Italians and to have her share her world with me.

Contact: aerdekia@syr.edu

Annie SchwartzName: Annie Schwartz ’18

Hometown: Plymouth, NH

Major: Illustration

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What do you wish you had known before going abroad? I knew I would travel to different countries and try new things, but I didn’t expect the immense depth of knowledge I would gather on who I am and why I want to study art. It actually frightened me, and still does a bit, just how powerfully I was shaken by my professors, trips, and experiences abroad. I was able to evaluate who I was in a foreign context, push my limits in a safe, supportive, and worldly environment. I didn’t expect the clarity I’d feel going into my senior year as an illustration student, this overwhelming sense of who I am and renewed determination to study art.

Contact: ajschwar@syr.edu

Pari MichalopoulosName: Pari Michalopoulos ’18

Hometown: Summit, NJ

Major: Applied Psychology and Human Development

Visiting school: Boston College

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What was your most valuable experience abroad? From the moment I met my host family they were nothing but warm and welcoming. They took me in as one of their own and made sure that my roommate and I felt comfortable. My host mom worried about my roommate and me just as she did with her own children. When we went on weekend trips, our host family was always so excited for our return and wanted to see pictures from our adventures. This made the experience extra special because I felt that I was being cared for even while living away from my family.

Contact: michalpa@bc.edu

Name: Tess Berger ’18

Hometown: New Cumberland, PA

Major: Magazine

Semester abroad: Spring 2017

What do you wish you would have known before going abroad? I would have spent more time soaking in the experience — memorizing the smells of the wisteria vines that covered the campus courtyard, the taste of freshly-pressed olive oil, the view from my homestay’s window. I would have kept a journal to write these sensory experiences down so that on days when I’m feeling nostalgic about Italy, I could simply open up a little notebook and transport myself back to a magical time in my life.

Contact: tberger@syr.edu

Jessica SchneiderName: Jessica Schneider ’18

Hometown: Amesbury, MA

Major: Economics

Visiting school: Gettysburg College

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? While studying abroad, especially if you are living with a host family, you become part of the city rather than just a tourist in someone else’s city. Over the course of three and a half months, you will learn the customs and traditions of your abroad family and city and come to understand what differentiates and connects American culture with that of countries all over the world. During my time abroad, I got a second family and realized how innately similar family dynamics are regardless of race and culture. As my host mother, Olivia, would say, “There are guests, and there are daughters,” and by the time December quickly approached, I felt like another daughter in my Italian family.

Contact: schnje02@gettysburg.edu

emily washburnName: Emily Washburn ’18

Hometown: Syracuse, NY

Major: Advertising

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What was your most valuable experience abroad? The most valuable part of my abroad experience, aside from my host family, was my volunteer work. The most impactful part of my volunteer work was the time I spent with Stephen. Stephen is a Ghanaian refugee that I would tutor every Wednesday for 2 hours after class. He had come to Italy 10 months prior and was accepted as an official refugee of Italy this past November. He taught me about his home in Ghana as I helped him find the words to do so in English. Working with Stephen encompassed everything I hoped for in my abroad experience: sharing my own culture and learning about that of others.

Contact: ewashbur@syr.edu

alex vivianoName: Alex Viviano ’18

Hometown: Towaco, NJ

Majors: History and economics

Visiting school: Franklin & Marshall College

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What was your most valuable experience abroad? My most unforgettable experience abroad was living with an Italian host family. In that environment, I learned about the distinct qualities that make up the Italian culture, and other aspects of their way of life.

Contact: alexanderviviano@aol.com

jabcob lichtblauName: Jacob Lichtblau ’18

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Major: History

Visiting school: Franklin & Marshall College

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? Study abroad was my best semester of college and it is impossible not to grow into a more confident and mature person. By the end of one semester, I was comfortable interacting with strangers in a foreign language, going on trips on a whim, and trying new and strange foods without a second thought. Along with all of the possibilities for self discovery, the best part is that there is a great program in place with experienced professors and a local staff who are a resource in every circumstance.

Contact: jlichtbl@fandm.edu

anna kuhnName: Anna Kuhn ’18

Hometown: Reistertown, MD

Major: Public relations

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? I would say GO! You will not regret it. You are able to meet new people that you may never have met or become close with on campus. You get to study classes relative to where you are and that makes the classes so much more fun. You will get to know yourself and become confident.

Contact: askuhn@syr.edu

sonya fowlerName: Sonya Fowler ’18

Hometown: Irvington, NY

Major: Policy studies

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What do you wish you had known before going abroad? Before I went abroad I wish someone told me that it is impossible to fully prepare for everything. Before I left, I over-packed and was stressed about the unknown. I learned that going abroad is such an individual experience it is not possible to land in a new country and feel 100% comfortable all the time. Some of the best times I had while abroad was when I was doing something completely new and foreign to me.

Contact: sofowler@syr.edu

baylee carrollName: Baylee Carroll ’18

Hometown: Massena, NY

Major: Dietetics

Semester abroad: Fall 2016

What would you say to a student who’s undecided about studying abroad? I would tell them how much I benefited from the experience. During the time I spent abroad in Europe I was able to learn how to budget my money, and how to plan as well as travel independently. During my time specifically in Italy with my host family I learned all about Italian culture and history in a way that was meaningful and it stuck with me. During my time in my classes I was able to grow as a person and create my own opinions based on world views I had never been exposed to previously, I was also able to increase my food knowledge and culinary skills.

Contact: bacarrol@syr.edu

lea millerName: Lea Miller ’18

Hometown: Pearl River, NY

Major: Aerospace engineering

Semester abroad: Spring 2016

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? The opportunity for someone our age to travel, explore, and learn about the world is unrivaled by any other form of teaching. There is no better way to teach responsibility, patience, and inspire a hunger for knowledge than to get a passport and go run with it. You will develop a distaste for the ordinary and the mundane. You will acknowledge that absolutes are naive thoughts. The boundary of your comfort zone will be stretched so far that you will only find its limit when it is time to go home and realize that you don’t want to. How much of life is spent believing that we can’t do something or that we should do something and not believing in what we want to do? This opportunity is a precious gift, do not waste it.

Contact: lemiller@syr.edu

jessie santillianName: Jessie Santillan ’18

Hometown: Lacey, WA

Major: Earth science

Semester abroad: Discovery Florence Fall 2014

What would you say to a student undecided about going abroad? I think going abroad builds self-reliance and independence. You’re thrown into a situation where you don’t know anybody, where you don’t know where anything is, or even how to talk to anybody, and yes that can be daunting, but I think its the safest way to get “thrown into the deep end.” You always have classmates and staff to back you up if you need anything, they give you resources to find things to do, they have people to show you the ropes, and they have people that you can lean on if all else fails.

If you think you’ll miss out on too much at home campus: you won’t. You’ll create memories that could never be replicated on home soil, you’ll go places you would’ve never had the chance to go to, and you’ll (most likely) have time to make similar experiences on the home campus.

Contact: jasantil@syr.edu

Kayla GoldsteinName: Kayla Goldstein ’18

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Majors: International relations and Linguistics

Semesters abroad: Discovery Florence Fall 2014/Bard Smolny (Russia) 2016-17

What was your most valuable experience abroad? The most valuable experience that I gained from studying abroad would have to be the moment I realized that it was becoming easier to communicate with native Italian speakers. I had no prior experience with Italian, and once I realized that the communication between my host mother and I, employees in cafes, students outside of my home university, etc. was becoming increasingly easy, the happier I became. I could understand dinners at my host home, I could talk with Italians that I had just met and build a relationship, I could be proud of the time I spent learning and growing there.

Contact: kbgoldst@syr.edu