Studying abroad: From a dream, to reality

Hi! I’m Shannon and I’m a senior duel majoring in Sociology and Public Relations. I went abroad to Florence in the fall of my junior year and it was by far the best semester of my college career (and probably the best three and a half months of my life!). Ever since I was little, I’ve been in love with the idea of traveling the world. So, when it came time to choose a college, a top-tier study abroad program was number one on my list of requirements. I can say will full confidence that Syracuse was the right choice for exactly that!

Because I’ve always loved traveling, and have always dreamt of study abroad, trying to choose from all the diverse abroad programs offered at Syracuse seemed like an impossible decision for me. I started attending the abroad fairs and talking to my academic advisers about my plans to go abroad the second I got to campus, but when junior year rolled around and it was time to make a decision I still felt overwhelmed. I was torn between the London program because there are some classes offered at the London center that could count toward my Newhouse major, and the Florence program because the opportunity to experience the culture, art, and history of Italy really interested me.

Obviously, I ended up choosing the Florence program, and it’s the best decision I ever made! The language barrier, cultural differences, and chance to live with a host family are some of the aspects of my semester abroad that most challenged me; however, I know that those are also the things that taught me the most about myself, and helped me grow as a person. The language difference and host family experience specifically were aspects of the Florence program that initially scared me and made me seriously consider choosing the London program instead. But, looking back, I wish I could have told myself not to be worried about those things because they’d end up being some of the best parts of my abroad experience!

Being worried about living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and living with a family you’ve never met is perfectly reasonable, and it’s something that almost every student is nervous about before they go abroad. But seriously, take it from an abroad alum, don’t let that fear choose your abroad program for you! You will have an absolutely amazing experience and you’ll look back and laugh at yourself for being so stressed over those things. I’m SO happy I chose to study in Florence, and I know if I had let my fear of the language barrier and living with a host family dictate my experience, I never would have learned or grown as much during my time abroad as I did. At the end of the day, every single abroad program offered at Syracuse is an amazing opportunity to expand your horizons, experience a new culture, and challenge yourself to try new things. You will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience regardless of where you go, so choose the program that speaks to your heart and just take the leap! I promise you won’t regret it.

Shannon Bozman ’20

Florence Center, Fall 2018

Finding my religion in Madrid

Hola! My name is Ariel Hylton and I recently graduated in the Class of 2020 at Syracuse University. I majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Spanish and studied abroad in Madrid in the Fall of 2018. I loved every second of abroad! I really wanted to be immersed in the culture and practice speaking and communicating with others in Spanish. I chose Spanish Identities for my seminar and loved exploring Northern Spain and a couple cities in Portugal and France. This seminar was carried out solely in Spanish and I gained so much from it. I also traveled to so many different countries. Being able to learn from locals and their cultures was incredible. But I was still looking for more during my abroad experience.

As a Jewish woman, I was worried about going abroad. I was so used to celebrating the High Holidays with my family, friends and peers in a place I’m very comfortable going to and wasn’t sure if I’d ever find a similar community. However, I discovered KAHAL, an organization providing Jewish students with various Jewish experiences throughout the world.

Being invited into a new community may be scary and worrisome at first, but attending services for various Jewish holidays was the best decision I ever made. I attended services at a local synagogue in Madrid for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. I met those who were also Jewish students studying abroad in Madrid, locals and individuals passionate about Judaism. In addition, the services were led in English and Spanish. Because I was fluent in Spanish, I was able to communicate with the other congregants and learn from them.

A local family also invited me into their home for a Hanukkah dinner. This was an experience and evening I will never forget. The family provided me with a delightful meal and included me in their own service. I truly felt at home. I remember going back to my host mom’s apartment and telling her how much I enjoyed spending the evening with that family. My parents were also thrilled to hear that I connected with other Jews.

I also loved learning more about what it’s like to practice Judaism in another country, especially in Spain. Toledo, a small city just outside of Madrid, is historically known for their Jewish community. I was able to visit Toledo during my time abroad, see various synagogues and discover how the Jewish people in this city practice Judaism.

My host mom in Madrid was always so willing to talk to me about being Jewish in Madrid and Spain in general. During the days when I left to go to High Holiday services, my host mom showed interest in my religious experiences the moment I walked through the door. I was able to teach her about my religion and she then shared a little about her own. Even though my own parents weren’t there to talk and spend time with me, my host mom always made me feel important as I celebrated these holidays in Madrid.

KAHAL and the experiences this organization provided me with truly enhanced my experience studying abroad in another country and city. I recommend KAHAL to any Jewish student planning on studying abroad. It really made me feel at home even when I was miles and plane rides away from my family and friends in the United States. Whether you’re traveling to Madrid, Paris, Prague, Shanghai or Sydney, KAHAL will connect you to immersive experiences in your local community! Check out KAHAL’s website for more information: https://kahalabroad.org

 

Ariel Hylton ’20

Syracuse Madrid

Adventures in Strasbourg

Eva KBonjour! My name is Eva Kamman and I’m a junior here at Syracuse studying environmental engineering. I studied abroad in the fall of 2018 at the Syracuse Center in Strasbourg, France. I chose this program for two main reasons. The first is that my family is French so being able to live there made me feel much closer to those relatives. In fact, in a weird way, it kind of felt like going home. The second was that I was able to take classes both at the Syracuse Center and at l’Institut national des sciences appliquées de Strasbourg (one of the premier engineering schools in France). Taking classes at INSA allowed me to regularly be in the same building as French engineering students and occasionally work with them. In one class, we had a few lectures where each SU undergraduate was partnered with an INSA graduate student to solve problem sets. While I was abroad, I took statics, electrical engineering fundamentals, calculus III, French IV, and I had an internship for credit.

When I went abroad, I definitely didn’t expect to hold an internship. However, the SU Center has a fantastic program that places interested students into positions around Strasbourg and I felt it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I was matched with a research professor at INSA and worked with him for a few hours each week in his student office where I was able to collaborate with his other student researchers. My work was focused on standardized precipitation evapotranspiration indexes and developing a method for calculating potential evapotranspiration in different climatic regions around the world. Being able to work with my advisor in a completely different setting than what I am used to was beneficial to both my academic and professional growth. Eva K

Though I’ve talked a lot about my academic experience so far, I am a strong believer that you shouldn’t go abroad just for the academics. Europe’s accessible transportation took me all around the continent – some notable places were Barcelona, Munich (for Oktoberfest!), and Greece. Each trip that I planned with my friends tested our organizational skills a little bit more. After all, I had always relied on my family to plan trips for me. Of course, there were the occasional flight cancellations or AirBnb mess ups, but we were always together and made the best out of whatever situation we were thrown in.

Studying abroad was probably the best decision I have made in my college career so far. I don’t think that I would be as successful either personally, academically, or professionally as I am today had I not taken advantage of the SUAbroad program. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Merci beaucoup et bientôt.

 

Eva Kamman ’21

Syracuse Strasbourg