Student Spotlight: Devyn Passaretti

UnknownDevyn Passaretti ’16 is an illustration major from Rhode Island. She spent the Spring 2015 semester enrolled in the studio arts program at the SU Florence Center. She earned credit toward her major by taking studio courses at SU Florence facilities, along with history of art electives and Italian language. She also was able to take part in the all-school field trips that the SU Florence Center arranges each semester. If you’re considering a semester in Florence, check out her thoughts:

What was your most difficult experience abroad, and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult thing for me to overcome while studying abroad was being away from my friends and family for so long. Although I made lots of new friends while in Florence it was the first time that I was not in my comfort zone of being at school or at home. It was interesting to experience a new country with new people. While I was traveling I learned what my own priorities are, along with those of the people I traveled with. Throughout my time abroad I found great people to spend my time with and made older bonds with friends stronger.

What experiences were most helpful to your major?
My entire abroad experience was extremely helpful to my major. I got the opportunity to study fine art in one of the most artistically rich cities in the world. As an illustration major I was able to broaden my scope to fine art practices. By looking at the masters in contrast to contemporary Italian artists I learned a lot about conceptualization. Through this process of study I learned about myself as an artist. My skills of observation and experimentation were greatly improved. Overall the city of Florence and the act of traveling gave me endless inspiration, which broadened my perspective and artistic skills.

How were your living arrangements?
While in Florence I lived with a host family with another Syracuse student. I lived with a host mother, her mother, and their two cats. As soon as we arrived they welcomed us into their home and culture. Every night at the dinner table we would have mini Italian lessons to help with our vocabulary. At the dinner table we would brokenly communicate about our days, where we planned to travel, and laughed about cultural differences. I got used to eating about a pound of pasta as the first course alone. It was beautiful to have a real family environment. They were always so loving and helpful.

Would you like to study abroad again? Where would you want to go?
I would love to be able to study abroad again. It was such an inspiring time period in my life. There’s not a day that goes by that I do not reflect on my time in Florence. That being said I would study in Florence again if I had the choice. The ancient city has so much to offer and I feel as if I only scratched the surface. I’ve also always wanted to study in New Zealand because all of the breathtaking vistas.

If you want to explore Florence and see the things you’ve learned about in history books come to life before your eyes, start your application here! Have questions? Let us know!

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Student Spotlight: Shoshana Kranish

shoshanakranishShoshana Kranish ’17 is an international relations major from Massachusetts. She spent the Spring 2015 semester in Tel Aviv, Israel as an international student at Tel Aviv University – an SU Abroad World Partner program. The TAU program is one of our most popular world partner programs, so if you’re interested in spending a semester in Israel, you might find Shoshana’s experience helpful:

1. What was your most memorable experience abroad?
The most memorable part of my time abroad were the holidays – in the spring there’s a whole bunch. There’s one holiday, called Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance), that commemorates soldiers who have died in Israel’s wars. I participated in a ceremony with a dozen other students, and it was an incredibly powerful way to connect with the community and give back. This holiday transitions right into Yom HaAtma’ut (Independence Day), making it a huge time for celebration. That transition doesn’t exist in the U.S. and it’s truly incredible to see the country go from somber to joyous in a short period of time.

2. What did you think of the courses you took at TAU?
I loved all the courses I took there. I had some truly remarkable professors who, in addition to teaching, were world-renowned scholars, researchers, and government consultants. I’m an international relations major concentrating in the Middle East and North Africa, so every class I took was really catered to my interests.

3. What was your favorite part of the city?
My favorite part of Tel Aviv are the beaches – there’s close to a dozen. I grew up on the beach in Massachusetts, and I really miss the ocean when I’m in Syracuse. Having a beach only a few miles from my dorm was really something I tried not to take for granted, and I miss it everyday!

4. What advice would you give to students who are preparing to study abroad?
Learn the language – or at least try! It makes life so much easier, it’s a great way to meet locals, and it’ll make them appreciate you so much more. Even more than that, who wouldn’t want to be able to say they can speak a bunch of languages (even if you can only read a menu)? You never know when a second or third language will come in handy in the future.

To read more about Shoshana’s experience in Israel, check out her blog!

If you’re interested in the Tel Aviv University World Partner Program (open only to SU students), start here! Have any questions? Let us know!

Student Spotlight: Shaheem Valentin

shaheemvalentinShaheem Valentin ’16 is a dual accounting and marketing major from the Bronx. He spent Spring 2015 taking part in the SU Santiago program, which begins with a month of intensive Spanish language study in Ecuador. Once students wrap up their time in Ecuador, they embark on a two-week traveling Signature Seminar that takes them to Uruguay and Argentina. Shaheem loved his time in Latin America and recently answered some of our questions about his experience:

  1. What was your most memorable experience abroad?
    The most memorable experience was when a person, who would later become one of my best friends in Chile, invited me to go hiking after one day of meeting each other. I had to met this person at 9 a.m. at his house to meet up with his friends and also for us to drive to the hiking destination (Quebrada de Macul). I had an amazing time hiking with everyone, we laughed, we fell, and just overall had a good time. Later on, they invited me to come back to the house for a bbq and a little get-together. It was the first time that I was hanging out with so many Chileans, and funny enough they all become some of my closest friends during my time there (and still are).
  2. What was the biggest difference between what you thought the experience would be like and what it was actually like?
    At first, I was nervous about my Spanish, not making friends, and I guess every other common worry that people have when traveling to a new country. It seemed once I landed in Ecuador that all my fears dissipated and I threw caution to the wind. My Spanish wasn’t perfect but over time it improved dramatically, I learned how to converse and showcase my personality, which led to me making friends and acquaintances. Also, these countries are much more beautiful that I ever expected, in terms of scenery and the kindness of the people.
  3. What was your favorite part about study abroad?
    My favorite thing about study abroad is the freedom of it. There will not be another time in my life that I would act so carefree, and be so willing to try half of the things that I tried.
  4. How did you like your host families?
    My living arrangements in both Ecuador and Chile were wonderful. The families were amazing and completely generous. I had my own room, and the host families gave me the freedom to explore and do my own thing, while still having them as a “safety-net.”

If you want to travel to four countries, perfect your Spanish, and enroll in the SU Santiago program, start here. Have any questions for us? Let us know!

SU Strasbourg Director Says Farewell to Fall 2015 Students

Each semester, SU Strasbourg Center director Dr. Raymond Bach gives a farewell speech to his students. The speeches are always heartfelt and memorable. But this semester’s speech, shared just weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris, is a tribute to the ties that bind nations and people, and to the true value of study abroad. We are sharing it in full, with his permission:

“Last week, at our Thanksgiving Celebration with the host families, I said a few words about the events that have recently shaken France. But as I spoke in French, there are no doubt a number of you who couldn’t quite follow. So let me summarize: I started by recalling 9/11 (when some of you were only four years old!) and how very moved I was by the sight of the hundreds of flowers that suddenly appeared in front of the American Consulate in the days following the attacks. I and other Americans were deeply appreciative of the many other expressions of support and solidarity that we received at that time, most notably during a special memorial concert given at the Strasbourg Cathedral, which was filled way beyond capacity. I then went on to say to our host families that, after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, it has been America’s turn to express its profound solidarity with the French people, and that this solidarity has taken many forms: the illuminating of buildings in bleu, blanc, rouge (including on The Hall of Languages on the SU campus); the singing of the Marseillaise at everything from sports events to symphony concerts; the pronouncing by our president of the three most important words in the French language: liberté, égalité, et fraternité.

Solidarity between our two nations goes far back, of course, to Lafayette and the American War of Independence; and although there have been disputes and disagreements between us – and what friendships do not have their share of disagreements?—the ties that bind the two countries together remain strong and profound.

But if these ties have indeed endured over the decades and centuries this is not only due to our common history – one that you can read about in books, or see commemorated in stone monuments, or watch in films such as The Longest Day (which tells the story of the D-Day Landings of 1944). Books and monuments and films are important, of course; but the ties between our two nations have survived above all because they are built upon thousands and thousands of personal links that have been made between individuals just like you on both sides of the Atlantic.

So in the last analysis, solidarity and feelings of deep affection between nations depend above all on us, the people; they depend on the willingness of individuals like you to form friendships across boundaries and borders; they depend on your desire to learn about other people’s cultures, to discover their cities, landscapes, art, and cuisine; and, of course, they depend on your commitment to learning to speak their language! (N’est-ce pas?)

If this sounds suspiciously like a description of the goals of study abroad, well, that’s because it is. For study abroad is ultimately about making connections that create bonds of understanding, affection, and mutual support. Now that you have spent a semester in Strasbourg you are part of this giant chain that connects France and the United States. Some of you may never travel to France again; others may come here on a regular basis; and still others may spend extended periods of time here – perhaps even the majority of your lives – on ne sait jamais. But whatever the future holds for you, and whether you realize it or not, you have already become part of something that is larger than you, part of a transnational bond of solidarity.

And believe me, if there’s something that the world needs now more than ever, it’s solidarity that crosses borders and boundaries. We need it in order to deal successfully with nearly every major problems that we face today: climate change, migration, poverty, disease, terrorism…you name it! As “study abroaders” – a title that I now officially bestow on all of you— you are better equipped than most of your peers to understand these problems and to work toward their solution.

During our Thanksgiving celebration of the other day, several host families came up to me to tell me that after the Paris attacks they had received emails and phone calls from many of their former students, and that they had been profoundly touched by these expressions of support. I was, of course, very pleased to hear this. I hope, however, that it won’t only be in moments of national crisis that you will let others know how much you care about them, but that joyous events, both personal and communal, will also be occasions for sharing and for expressing solidarity across the ocean. I can’t imagine a more positive result of study abroad than that! Bon courage et bonne continuation”