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Study Abroad Student Testimonials

Anthony Berry

Cape Verde, Africa - Spring 2017

The flag of Cape Verde, Africa

Anthony Berry visiting a mountain in Cape Verde

The experience of a lifetime was in front of me, I thank God for telling me to push my boundaries. I went to Africa for my first time where my family if from, Cabo Verde. These island are all different but tell a great story, the culture that you see is from centuries ago but long lasting impression on the community. I love waking up to the waves crash and the market bumping with fresh food and anything else you would need. The country has been through a lot but remain to stay safe, controlled and beautiful. I recommend anyone because this study abroad allowed me to see a international university, study the culture, food and music while having fun. 

Kaitlin Smith

Ohau, Hawaii - Spring 2018

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Kaitlin Smith at the beach in HawaiiComing to Hawai'i, I was unsure if I could get a real cultural experience while still being in the U.S. What I've learned though is that culture isn't about location it's about the people you meet.

Racheal Provencher

Krakow, Poland - Spring 2017

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Racheal Provencher in the town square of Krakow, Poland

I had always thought about studying abroad growing up. I thought the idea of going to another country and learning in their classrooms was the coolest thing. As I got older I realized that I did not necessarily want to spend a whole semester going to school abroad nor could I really afford it. As I neared my senior year of college I pretty much lost all hope that I'd be able to go abroad, but then out of nowhere in my international terrorism course with Prof. Spero, he had Tracey Sarefield and Nelly Wadsworth come into class and introduce some of our options for traveling abroad. I was immediately hooked. 

After class I spoke to Tracey and basically signed up on the spot to go to Kraków, Poland. And let me just say it was THE BEST decision of my life. To this very day I am constantly preaching how amazing the trip was. Kraków was magical. I felt so at home. I never once felt overwhelmed or nervous, it was just meant to be honestly. I cannot speak anymore highly of the city. The experiences I had there with my classmates, and now friends were amazing. There were tears, smiles, and laughs that made your stomach hurt, and all the moments we shared were unforgettable. I met a wonderful friend in Kraków and she and I will forever be connected as friends no matter how far we are from one another! Everyone was so welcoming no matter where you went.

I 1 million percent recommend going on this trip with Professor Spero anytime it's offered. He is the coolest professor you'll meet and he will make this trip amazing for anyone. His connection to the city is wonderful and he will make you feel right at home when you're there. This trip was a 10/10 in my book and I will be a frequent flyer to the city of Kraków. 

I think it is amazing that we were offered a spring break study abroad opportunity. It was affordable, but you still got to dive head first into a new culture. My eyes were open wide the whole time and I wish it lasted a lifetime longer than 10 days. If you have any doubts in whether to go abroad, just go for it, you will not regret one bit of it. 

Imani Hunter

Japan - Fall 2017

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A Japanese pagoda

Journeying across the world to Japan has been a dream of mine since I was a child. There are so many wonderful countries to travel to going through Fitchburg State, but I was determined to go to Japan no matter what, as we were studying Japanese art, which was an interest of mine. Arriving in Japan, I was ready to practice my Japanese and experience what this country had to offer. And to my amazement, the next two weeks were even better than I expected. Living in a two-person apartment in the heart of Akihabara was an interesting time. There were convenience stores on every block with every type of food imaginable. Arcades and cafes lined the streets and each morning I would explore a little bit more of one of the most populated cities in Japan. I was able to move freely around the cities and even farther using train tickets. The infamous packed trains is seriously nothing to sniff at. Even if it was a little uncomfortable in the beginning, I quickly got used to it and even started to envy the lifestyle. Even the most basic trains were so advanced and clean that they reminded me of an electronics store. While I never ventured too far from where I was staying, every street felt like a new world out of a fantasy novel. Surprisingly my Japanese was better than I thought and I held a few conversations with native speakers. The quality of Japan is incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Every person is kind and capable of helping you when you need it, the streets are clean with almost no litter, every flyer being offered to you is interesting, but most of all, the atmosphere is welcoming. This might add to the fact that there are a lot of foreigners that have decided to stay in Japan. Even a person who does not find much interest in the history of Japan, you could feel the impact of historical battles. Being in rural Kyoto, there was a sense that I had been taken back hundreds of years. Being surrounded by mountains, parks, seeing ancient temples from the warring states era and armor worn by samurai was one of my favorite parts of Kyoto. Temples, shrines, museums, video games, and even manga and anime all were a part of our study of Japanese art and made my love of Japan grow. Seeing the Great Buddha, Hikone castle, and Mount Fuji from Enoshima were just some of the coolest sights that I got to see. There were many different lifestyles that I encountered while in Japan. Some were of fellow individuals who enjoyed anime and manga, and some were professional business men and women who were married to their jobs. And others were regular students from America or locals who were studying computer science just like me. I related so much to Japan on a personal level that I have decided that after finishing school at Fitchburg State, I will be studying and eventually working in Japan. This study abroad trip was an eye opener for me. I never thought about working outside of America, but I want to take my career seriously, and what better country to work in than the leader of technological developments? I would seriously recommend this trip to anyone and everyone. Every part of the trip was my favorite, and it’s one of the most unique and unforgettable experiences I have had, and I can’t wait go again.

Jessica Blouin

Italy - Spring 2016

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Jessica Blouin overlooking the countryside in Italy

Traveling to a different country broadened my perspective on my place in the world and at the same time made me more sympathetic to others’ perspective as well. Being abroad in a country where I couldn’t understand the language, reminded me of how easy my life was being an American in the United States. I was so integrated into my own culture and language. Once I was put in that position I suddenly empathized with people who have no choice but to move to different countries. As a future teacher, the experience made me even more sympathetic to my English language learners not only learning a new language but a new culture.

I’ve always had the desire to travel abroad. Italy had so many amazing sights to offer. While my trip was soul fulfilling, it only stimulated a greater hunger in me to see more of the world. I want to see more places, learn new languages and cultures, and make more friends. My experience has certainly made me interested in pursuing more opportunities abroad. I have an ambition to teach English to high school students in Japan. Once I earn my degree and get a little more teaching experience, I want to travel there and fulfill that goal of mine.

Katrina Syrakos

Sorrento, Italy - Spring 2016

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Katrina Syrakos on a walking trail in Italy

In the Spring of 2016, I spent the semester studying abroad in Sorrento, Italy. Sorrento is a beautiful, small city towards the south of Italy and is located right along the Amalfi Coast. I could have spent my entire time exploring the coast and other cities throughout Italy simply because of the amount of culture and meaning that is located there. However, I managed to split up my time and visit multiple other countries. I was able to develop organizational and travel skills that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to discover.

Traveling abroad, especially when you are not going with anybody that you already know, teaches you a lot about self discovery. There is nobody there to hold your hand (although there are plenty of resources available both through your study abroad provider and the OIE at Fitchburg State) and you need to gain some sort of independence. Your communication skills are basically guaranteed to improve, whether it is mastering a new language, learning a few key phrases, or becoming a pro at pointing and gesturing. Simply learning how and when to ask for help or guidance is an act that many of us need some practice on.

It is true that studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience. Few people come back unchanged or unaffected by this unique experience. Sorrento became my home quicker than I thought it ever would. I will always miss the scenic walk to class, passing through the streets and saying "Ciao!" to all of the shopkeepers that I recognized, and even becoming a morning person so that I could take in and experience as much of my time there as possible.

Alex Napolitan

Stuttgart, Germany

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A pair of sunglasses held in front of the sunset in Germany

Never in my life would I have expected to study abroad. But then, I attended a workshop that some foreign professor from some foreign school in some foreign country gave. He began his workshop telling us about the college he works at, Hochschule der Medien, and how we can spend a semester studying there in Stuttgart, Germany. Five months later, I found myself on a plane taking off to Stuttgart, Germany, on a six month journey that would change my life forever.

My time in Stuttgart was not only a defining moment of my life, but completely changed how I felt about the world. The experiences I had, the people I met, the countries I visited, were all so wonderful. Germany is such an amazing country, and I felt so honored to live there and be welcomed by so many friendly people. Stuttgart is forever a second home for me. The city itself is beautiful and full of life. They always have some event going on; whether it is a “Netflix and Chill” movie showing in the city-center, a crazy colour party, or a week-long culture-show where most every place from around the world is represented by the respective country, you will never be bored there. Hochschule der Medien is also such a wonderful university, and historic itself. One of the best things about HdM is how it hosts international students from all around the world. The experience you get there will be so unique from any other international study-you will not leave without thinking about extending your study there.

If the circumstances of choosing where I went where different, I would have probably spent my semester in either England or Italy. Never have I been happier to not get what I thought I wanted. Germany was such a phenomenal place to spend part of my life in and not a day has gone by where I don’t think about. The beautiful surroundings, the great food and beer, and the people I met will always be with me. I made many close friends abroad from all over the world, and learned so much about other people's cultures outside of Germany. The world we live in is beautiful and strange in many aspects, and I am glad I could learn about it away from the computer or TV screen. Experiencing a different culture first hand is wonderful, especially when you experience it for the first time with others outside of Germany or wherever you are from. It was a wonderful experience that I had, and I hope more and more people get to have such experiences in their lives as well.

Brandon Voeuk

Japan - Spring 2016

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Brandon Voeuk next to a statue in JapanDespite having to cram everything into a little over a week, I feel like I have experienced a lot of what Japan had to offer. Our group went from the crowded buzzing city of Tokyo to the more calm cultured style of Kyoto.

I felt like a kid digging through the used game stores and finding such rare gems at such a great price. Old school Nintendo games, cards, manga, and books, they had it all, and I bought it all, well almost...

Japan’s culture was so fascinating and different, visiting Himeji Castle and wandering the streets of Akihabara. There was another feeling of depth I had because of how the people in Japan could fit so much into their smaller country. Everyone was so polite and it showed me a true aspect to etiquette and respect. Norms such as embracing anime was a big part of their advertising, something we wouldn’t see here in the United States.

Visiting various game companies and seeing games that are a work in progress, definitely shed light to my eyes on the reality of game design. Though everyone had their own separate desk and workspace there was definitely a vibe of unity because of how everything being worked on was going to be part of a whole video game.

I also couldn’t have wished for a better tour guide from ISA. Naya made the trip run so seamlessly and her knowledge of our surroundings in Japan was so vast. Any questions I had for her and the professors was answer with some personal insight and that made it more of a culture shock to see and experience things right in front of my eyes.

Elizabeth Pauleus

Italy - Spring 2017

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Elizabeth Pauleus on a gondola ride in ItalyStudying abroad has always been a dream of mine, I wanted to do it since the moment I learned about it, which was when I moved to the United States in 2012. As soon as I started my college journey, I found myself almost everyday in the study abroad office with an amazing study abroad advisor who was always all ear to listen to my plans and made sure to help me in any way she could. Before I knew it, I received a scholarship from the Institute of International Education (IIE) Generation Study Abroad and was ready to start pursuing my plan.

Living in Italy for three wonderful weeks seemed so surreal to me. I was learning while having fun, I learned in and outside of the classroom. I had the opportunity to stay in a country full of history, arts and some exotics foods. Some weekends, my friends and I would decide to go to Venice, Rome or even France and we made sure that we enjoyed every seconds of those un-American moment. Italy is more lovely than words can ever tell.

Spending those three brilliant weeks in such a relaxing and loving country have taught me that I have a passion for the nomadic life and I must embrace and cherish every bit of it because this who I am, this is what I love to do. It sets me completely free. I am strongly positive that one day, once again, I will wake up in countries where I don't know the languages, see places and mountains that I don't know the names yet and devour some delicious foods. Ever since I got back from Italy, all I have been doing is planning on my second trip. Italy is just one of those countries that one cannot go just once and be satisfied. This experience gives me some friends for life, helps me find who I really am, what I really want to do after graduation and I owe it all to God, Fitchburg State University, study abroad generation and also my study abroad advisor. Could have never done it alone!

Anh-Vu Nguyen

Exchange Student from Germany - Spring 2016

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Anh-Vu Nguyen standing in the snowAs part of the sister program between the city of Fitchburg, MA and the city of Kleve, Germany and their respective Universities Fitchburg State University and The School of Applied Sciences Rhine-Waal, I was given the opportunity to spend one semester at Fitchburg State. When I first arrived in the beginning of January, I was pleasantly surprised how helpful the International Office is. Dena was very supportive with the documents before I even arrived in Fitchburg and Tracey took me grocery shopping as well as helping me setting up my American cell phone. In terms of studying, I had a lot of fun during my classes, with lively discussions and very supportive professors. Another thing which I really liked about Fitchburg was its proximity to Boston and its public transportation infrastructure. Therefore, it was very easy for me to travel around and see places. It was a very cool experience and I would do it again anytime.

Mariah Kelley

Florence, Italy - Spring 2016

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Mariah Kelley in front of a waterfall in ItalyThe most common question I received after studying abroad was “What was your favorite place?” And believe me, that was the hardest question to answer. While studying abroad I had the opportunity to visit 7 countries in total, and loved every single one. As I thought about the question more and more, I finally was able to come up with an answer: Florence. After my four months abroad, Florence almost became my new home in a way. I had made lasting friendships with other students, became a regular at a new juice shop that opened while I was there, and even had the opportunity to meet and speak with local Italians. At first, I didn’t think I was going to be able to afford it, but there are so many opportunities out there for study abroad students. With the help of the international education office and financial aid, I was able to receive all the help I needed (including a very generous grant) to make my dreams of studying abroad come true. I am so grateful for this opportunity and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Shuyu Yu

Exchange Student from China

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Shuyu Yu waving in front of a large building with American flagsI think this semester is the one of the most meaningful and interesting time in my college life. I still remembered the first day when we came here. We met a lot of international students. We were so excited and couldn't wait for the new things and challenges. Thanks for your help when we are new here.

Luckily, we got a lot assistants from our teacher, classmates and friends. They not only help us in course, but also give some advice on life. My friends once helped me reviewed course. One of my classmates borrowed me her class notes. My teacher were all very patient when I asked questions. We've learned quite numbers of things. At same time, we traveled a lot and have a wonderful experiences in different cities. We experienced different kinds of American culture and a lot of interesting and amazing things happened to us.

We really had a wonderful time in Fitchburg. I hope we can go back in the future. I also hope you can get a chance to China. That's will be a wonderful trip.

Yvonne Renard & Taylor Emma

Faculty Led Program in Krakow, Poland - Spring 2017

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Yvonne Renard and Taylor Emma in front of a large statue in Poland“Kraków is the most enchanting city I have ever been to. It breathes, laughs, and excites. We were given an invaluable opportunity to explore major historical sites and resilient cultures at an affordable cost. The friendships and connections I have made with my classmates, professors, and the world have been life changing. I am counting down the days until I can return to Kraków!” — Yvonne Renard (left in picture), Economics Major, International Politics and International Studies Minors

“I still talk about my trip to Poland with friends and colleagues today as one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. I talk about Kraków as the cultural hub, the historical sites and the beautiful church architecture and decor, and of course the food! I took this trip on a whim, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. This adventure to Poland has inspired me to travel to other less-traveled countries and immerse myself in new cultures and explore new environments!” – Taylor Emma (right in picture), Computer Information Systems Major, Business Administration Minor

Nick Wilson

Prague, Czech Republic - Spring 2017

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Nick Wilson riding a bike in PragueWell someone asked me once "what's your least favorite thing about Prague?" It was the hardest question I'd had about the city. After a long thinking session, the answer I had was the pillows. The lifestyle in Prague has everything any type of person needs, really ANY. Although formally being trapped behind the iron curtain, I think this has saved Prague's culture from being contaminated by western influence and allowed the Czech culture to remain Czech. It's culture truly is the ideal 'European' lifestyle I was curious about when I first dreamed about traveling. Germany sort of feels like America with different sounding people. Czech is its uniquely on its own, in Central Europe (DON'T call it east OR west). Also Prague is so beautiful literally the Nazis didn't want to destroy it. You can be wary of my 'gone local' bias but it's a VERY free place and I think the best place to base European adventures from.

Paul Faria

London, England - Spring 2015

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Paul Faria with a member of the Royal Guard in London"Studying abroad was the absolute pinnacle of my college and life experience up to this point. The opportunity to be an active learner while being immersed in cultures from Europe to Africa has allowed me to develop skills and ideas that transcend the college experience.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world affordably while having complete access to travel experts that are totally focused on making your voyage an unforgettable experience. If you are looking to expand your horizons, see and do things that most people will only dream of, and develop skills and friendships that will having a lasting impact on your life then studying abroad is the opportunity for you.

I am deeply grateful for the study abroad office at Fitchburg State University as they made this process smooth and unintimidating. They were by my side every step of the way to answer every question that I had, ensuring that I was prepared to travel the world. This office is run by extremely competent individuals that truly care and are committed to helping each student realize their goals. As students of this University, we could not ask for any better than what we have in our study abroad office - make the most of it!"

Leslie Jaffie

London, England - Fall 2015

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Leslie Jaffie in a telephone booth in LondonAs a little girl, I'd watch The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan and would dream of living in London one day. Through study abroad, I was able to live out that dream which has become easily the best thing I have ever done. The opportunity to study in London for a semester is something that I wouldn't pass up. If I could do it again, I would without second thought. From start to finish, the entire process was a breeze thanks to the International Education office. London is a magical city with so many cultures, beautiful buildings, unique shops and Nando's. From the moment I landed back on American soil, I've been conjuring up a plan for when I can go back. The person I am today is different than the one that left for London in August 2015, and in the best way possible.

Gustavo Quiros

Stirling, Scotland - Summer 2015

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Gustavo Quiros hiking in ScotlandStudying abroad has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life. After going abroad to Scotland for two months my world changed, I saw things differently its almost as if I had lived under a rock and suddenly the world was shown to me. I have learned to appreciate so many of the little things I have taken for granted and got to experience a country that was so beautiful and culturally rich. Scotland has become the gateway for my travel, there is so much to see and two months is hardly enough time to do it all. I visited England, Ireland, Amsterdam and so many places within Scotland itself and feel so grateful to have done so. Studying abroad is more than just an awesome experience, but it is very eye opening in the sense that you discover who you really are and what you are capable of. Seeing things from a different perspective helps you appreciate what you have and also has you become more open minded to the ways of others. Everyone has the dream of traveling and what better time to do than when you are in college and you aren’t afraid to try new things. After studying in Scotland I have memories I can reflect on for the rest of my life and I have even made lifelong friends that I share a special bond with simply because of the beautiful country we experienced. The people in Scotland were great, the food was delicious, and the Scenery, to die for. You get a taste for the traditional as well as the modern in Scotland and in the entire U.K. as a whole. If you are thinking about studying abroad, please stop thinking and go ahead with it. I can’t think of anyone who has studied abroad and had something bad to say about it. There are so many places to see in the world weather it is Scotland or anywhere else I encourage students to go. This experience has forever changed my life and Scotland will always remain a part of who I am. In the famous words of William Wallace “Alba gu brah” or Scotland Forever!

Shannon Devaney

Sorrento Italy - Fall 2014

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Shannon Devaney in a gelato shop in ItalyFor over ten years I dreamt of studying abroad in Europe. I went back and forth for almost a year about where exactly I wanted to go, and with the help and patience of Fitchburg State's international education office, I finally made my decision. I spent a semester in Sorrento, Italy and had the time of my life. Sorrento is the most beautiful place I've ever been and it became the backdrop for the best semester of my life. While abroad I met wonderful people, ate delicious food, and had the experience of a lifetime. I was able to travel around Italy, and cross something off of my personal bucket list, riding a gondola in Venice. Studying abroad has been the greatest part of my college experience and I couldn't be more thankful to Fitchburg State for helping me to have this experience!

Thomas Begin

Stuttgart, Germany - Spring 2015

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Thomas Begin walking along the water in GermanyFive months, one hundred forty seven days, 3,528 hours. This is the amount of time I spent abroad in Germany. But my experience can’t be put in a numerical sense, it doesn’t feel right and I don’t think it accurately sums up the time I spent here. When people ask me how long was in Germany I find it to be more appropriate to say long enough to make connections with people that span across the globe, long enough to not feel like a tourist, and long enough to say that my favorite thing to do didn’t involve bars or clubs but a little café where I regularly went to enjoy a book. Not only is that how I would accurately describe my length of stay in Stuttgart but it is also what I’m most proud of.

Before I started my journey abroad I didn’t really have any big expectations. I knew very little about the country along with the city of Stuttgart. Because of this I was able to arrive with an open mind and everything seemed so new and fresh and I was bewildered by it. Some of the friends I had made here told me about how they had been to Stuttgart before their time abroad here and had gotten the feel of the city and surrounding. For me being 4,000 miles and an ocean away that wasn’t an option, and even if it was I wouldn’t of chosen to do that. Part of why I decided to go abroad was to fully immerse myself in an unknown environment and put myself in an immediate sink or swim situation. I craved and looked forward to that challenge. This is why I made no assumptions, no expectations, and came in hitting the ground running. Since I came here with this approach I got the challenge I was looking for, and a challenge it was. With more cultural differences that I can count I quickly had to learn to adapt to this new and different way of living. Such as having to shop for groceries every day, cooking every day for myself, and to learning how to read and use the tram transportation system.

Although the main focus of my time abroad was to study abroad, there was so much more to my time here than just that. Life outside of school was thrilling with a new adventure every day. When I first got here it consisted of exploring the city center in the heart of Stuttgart, going to local restaurants, and of course checking out the many car museums. After I went through the initial “tourist” phase I begin venturing outwards. Going down the less popular roads without the big flashy shops and signs, enjoying biking through the many near by fields, or meeting up with recently made friends to barbeque need a small pond. As I stated before one of my favorite things to do was to grab my book and head to small out of the way café and sit outside for as long as I wanted and just relax and read. Being independent here and going off on my own gave me a great sense of pride and accomplishment in that I was able to do so in a new country. It was these things that I enjoyed the most and made me realize that I wasn’t just a tourist here any more.

When it came to the actual “study” part of study abroad I was excited to see how another education system worked. In comparison to what I was used to the education I got here felt so much more organic. Back home classes worked by reading information out of a book and then talking about it or listening to a teach talk at you for and hour and a half or sometimes longer as you try to retain as much as possible. Here it was much more natural than that. My classes here were based on group discussion and questions that any of us had. There would be a loose program for that day but it would mostly be about what we as students would ask to learn about, which made so much sense to me and fascinated me. Something that I was most impressed with was one of my teachers in my Visual Effects class. My teacher the first day of classes explained this was his first time teaching a class and said how much he disliked the same class when he took it years ago and he was determined to make the class about us learning not about him teaching which blew me away. He had told us how he worked for a very well known visual effects company and had worked on movies such as Transformers and The Avengers and explained how he worked on the movies and what it was like working in the real world. Never before had a gained so much experience and knowledge through what just felt like casual conversations, and in this style of teaching I learned so much about my field. Something else I enjoyed was how grading was all work based instead of the usual standardized tests. So instead of having some huge test that you cram study for a few nights before and then forget in time after the test I was graded on my work and projects which I found to be a much better way in assessing my knowledge and what I was taking away from my classes. One last thing that amazed me was how the school set up events allowing the students to proudly show off and display their work to fellow class mates and whoever else chose to attend these functions. During these nights I would go around and see student’s work from all types of classes and mediums from graphic design, to print media, video game design, and many more. It made me proud to see what bigger group I was a part of and made me thankful for being at HDM.

When it came to interacting with people outside of school, I found them be very welcoming and very eager to ask about and to here about my trip in Stuttgart and about Germany. It seems at least 3 times a week I would be on the tram and someone would hear that I was from the United States and would ask me about my time here and I would be more than happy to discuss it with this stranger. Besides just friendly talk people were always very happy to be of help if I was to stop them in the street for directions or to enter a store and ask for help with something. One of the most memorable moments with this was when I was looking to apply for my visa and I was walking in circles for the better part of an hour looking for the building. I asked a near by worker at a restaurant if he could help me and with a smile not only gave me directions, but lead me himself to the building. I told him that I was applying for a visa and he told me how he came to Stuttgart and did exactly what I was doing over twenty years ago and never left. It’s the small connections like this I made with so many people that made me feel so welcomed and happy to be here.

Paola Veras

Seville Spain - Spring 2015

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Paola Veras in Spain"I always knew I wanted to travel the world but financially, I didn't think I could travel anywhere. But Fitchburg State offered me the chance to study abroad in my dream country, Spain. I got the chance to learn a whole new culture and gave me the chance to visit other countries like London, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, and Turkey. It was the best experience of my life and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

Jerene Simmons

Verona, Italy - Summer 2015

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Jerene Simmons in Italy

Traveling, particularly to Europe, has always been a dream of mine, though one I feared might never come to fruition. Never afraid to try something new or embark on a journey, I soon found myself in the study abroad office my freshman year and every year after, continuously inquiring about the opportunities available to me. Nearing the end of my junior year, my fears that I would not get the chance to study abroad once again resurfaced. Despite all the support that various organizations and offices had offered me, serious obstacles remained in my way. However, university staff continued to encourage me to pursue my ambitions. After hearing, "Just go! You’ll figure out the rest later," it finally resonated with me enough to follow-through on my desire to study abroad. It only took another person to verbalize what I had always been telling myself to make a dream into my reality.

Armed with ample advice and a scholarship from the CIC, I was soon on a plane to Italy. I couldn’t believe that it was finally happening; it felt like an out-of-body-experience! Suddenly I was living in Verona, saying “Ciao,” going into tortellini shops and chasing every opportunity to ride a Vespa. All I could think was, "Who am I?"

Everything about Italy seemed as though it was a masterpiece. Life in Verona showed me how to appreciate the immediacy of the moment, beginning with my morning coffee. From the sights to the smells, I was entranced in the café experience… there was no “to go” option, but instead plenty of time to enjoy your coffee and your seat. My favorite part of Italian culture is that nothing is done lightly. Everything is done with deliberate care and attention, and of course, everything is grand.

For much of the mid-afternoon, like the drop of a hat, the entire city essentially shut down for a siesta. After a few hours of rest and relaxation, the city sprang back to life for dinner. As a native Bostonian who has never heard the word “relaxed,” that simply amazed me!

This trip, seemingly a five-week whirlwind, has made my hunger for travel only that much greater. The Verona program has opened my eyes to see that there is a whole world to see and experience, and most importantly a whole new part of myself I have yet to discover. I consider myself so incredibly fortunate to have received an opportunity to be a part of another world for five weeks. From the moment I stepped on campus, Fitchburg State has done nothing but support, guide, and mold me into so much more than I could have imagined. I would not have been prepared for an adventure such as this if not for all that Fitchburg State University had to offer.

Tava Hoag

Edinburg, Scotland - Spring 2015

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Tava Hoag in a telephone booth in Edinburg

Studying Abroad helped me find myself away from home. I was able to meet so many new people and have amazing experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This past summer opened my eyes to how important traveling is and because of this I plan to keep exploring and seeing the world.

This past summer I studied abroad for two months at the University of Stirling in Scotland. What makes my experience a little different from most is that, for the first month I took classes and then during the second month I completed an internship with a local independent youth hostel. The internship was my favorite part, I learned so much and I actually got to do something related to the career I want to end up in. I did travel and blog writing for the Willy Wallace Backpacker’s Hostel. I was in charge of my own projects and I interviewed and met people from all over the world, all while receiving college credit.

Being away from home for so long, especially overseas really changes the way you perceive things. It’s so much more than seeing new landscapes and venturing to places you have read about in books or seen in pictures. You get to experience a new way of a life, a different kind of life that you would never have been able to find within the bounds of your comfort zone. You get to immerse yourself in the culture wherever you are. You learn about the people, their history, their values and in the end you come home a completely different person. One that is better for taking the leap to study abroad.

Justine Marsella

London, England - Spring 2014

The English flag

Justine Marsella at Stonehenge “ I went on the London Spring Break 2014 trip in my last semester of senior year. I had almost given up on my dream about studying abroad before I graduated, but a friend mentioned this program to me because she knew I would enjoy it. I’m so thankful that she did, because it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. During the class time before leaving on the trip, I learned about the places that inspired some of the greatest stories in English literature; but seeing those locations in person made the experience even more special. I saw the shrine of St. Thomas Beckett, which inspired the Canterbury Tales; I ate at the pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to talk about their stories; I even got to see the house where William Shakespeare was born. This trip made my last semester of college incredibly special, and I’m so glad I was able to study abroad. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, do it-even if it’s for a week, the experience is one you’ll remember for a lifetime.”

Simon Vikoler

Exchange Student

The American flag

I was very nervous the days before leaving Italy for 5 months. At that point I had no idea that this experience abroad would turn out to be the best time of my life. Starting from day 1 my integration into American college life went smoothly. The international relations team at Fitchburg State picked me up from the train station, showed me the campus and provided me with all the necessary information regarding course registration and available services for Fitchburg State students. Once orientation week was over, I was keen on experiencing my first classes in an American college. I would like to underline the fact that all professors at Fitchburg State were friendly and cooperative, allowing me to feel comfortable participating in class.

Simon Vikoler on the Fitchburg State Men's Soccer team

Moreover, I soon decided to become active even outside the classroom and joining the Fitchburg State Men's Soccer Team. It was the best decision I could have possibly made. Becoming a Fitchburg State Falcon made me feel fully integrated into a different cultural context, and as a result, strong friendships within the team were built. In a nutshell, during my stay at Fitchburg State I considerably improved my English skills, studied in a practice oriented environment and made friends for life. My semester abroad at Fitchburg State might have been slightly different to what I used to know about American college life, but it is definitely a destination where an international student can experience the American culture to its fullest.”

Paola Zorzan

Exchange Student from Italy - Fall 2013

The American flag

“ My experience as an exchange student lasted only four months, but changed my entire life. Living 12 hours away from home in a foreign country so different from Italy was not easy, especially at first when I experienced so-called culture shock. But Fitchburg State University staff and students were so kind to me it immediately felt like my home away from home. Thanks to everyone (who was so kind to me) Paola Zorzan in front of a waterfallI could experience what America really is, and what studying at an American university really feels like. It was funny, because it felt like starring in a movie, especially when I drove to New York and finally saw what I had always seen on TV. I could enjoy the most stunning views such as Niagara Falls or autumn in New England, I met some amazing friends, I experienced diversity, I got in touch with university staff and professors like never before. I brought home American presents for everyone, even if the biggest one was for me: an experience that made me stronger, wiser and happier. It’s been almost a year I left for Fitchburg but I can still recall every single minute of an adventure, that was priceless, funny and very interesting!”

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