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Study Abroad Stories


Ever wonder what it is really like to study abroad? 

Check out the stories listed below and find out how exciting Saint Mary's College study abroad programs can be. 

  Oxford, England






European Summer

 Puerto Rico






 Ireland Academic Year ’15-16

“I arrived in the Dublin airport as a tired, overwhelmed, but excited girl. I was afraid to branch out and not be able to find my place in Maynooth. I was forced to set aside my concerns, join clubs, and reach out to meet new people. I had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  

 I was extremely blessed to have found my new friends and hobbies quickly! I joined clubs like Ultimate Frisbee and Busking, and was have found my new friends and hobbies quickly! I joined clubs like Ultimate Frisbee and Busking, and was amazed by the instant welcoming atmosphere and talent possessed by these groups. The kindness and guidance I was granted helped me grow more accustomed to the everyday life here. I’ve learned something new about Ireland and its culture each day .” By:  Aubrey Clark ’17, Alumnae       

For more of Aubrey's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 Spring Newsletter) 


Ireland Program, Spring 2016

“At nineteen, I found comfort in my return to a small Irish town after each travel abroad. A small town in a small country that stole a bigger piece of my heart than any of the amazing sights I had the pleasure of seeing in my travels. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was stunning—a work of unfinished art adorned with stained glass that lit up the inside with radiant colors. A sight that left me breathless upon entering. And yet, the simple beauty of the stone church that became my temporary parish in Maynooth, Ireland, held a far greater place in my heart.” By: Jessica McCartney, Alumnae     For more of Jessica's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 Essay Contest)

Archaeology in Trim, Ireland, Summer 2016

“My study abroad taught me about Irish culture, how to properly trowel within a cutting, how to classify finds and features, and (most importantly) how to brew a mean cup of tea. It also taught me how to trust myself, how to project confidence into my actions, and how to recognize that the need to know information far outweighs any awkwardness that might ensue.” By: Adrienne Whisman, Alumnae For more of Adrienne's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 Essay Contest)



Oxford Program, Academic Year ’15-16

“Although we didn't know each other before signing up to go to Oxford together, we've become inseparable friends. We've managed to mostly adapt to the workload. While we don't have class every day because we only meet with our tutors once a week, we're still spending a ton of time independently learning. The tutorial system is much more intense than our system in the United States, which we've found to be tough, but rewarding” By: Mary Kate Luft ’17 and Katie Kulwicki ’17, Alumni  For more of Mary Kate's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 Spring Newsletter)

  Oxford 2014-2015 Academic Year

“While being in a fantastic city with a culture of learning so intense you cannot even walk down the street without hearing an intense discussion or learning something new yourself, it is not about being at Oxford, it is about being in Oxford. The difference is that being in Oxford means you are aware of your surroundings while constantly assessing your place there and how you fit in.” By: Allison D’Ambrosia, Alumnae  For more of Allison's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2015 Essay Contest)


 Austria, Spring 2015

“Europe taught me many lessons. That adventure off the beaten path was one of my favorites in Europe. If people all do the same thing, things get a bit boring. Instead, be yourself, do what you love. Believe it or not, some of the stories you live will inspire and entertain people years to come, guaranteed. And most importantly, they will bring a smile to your face and inspire YOU for years to come as well.”

“Week by week, my curiosity expanded beyond basic necessities. As I became more confident shopping in Innsbruck, I was able to break away from the first grocery store I found and discover what would later become my various favorite places around town to buy fresh bread, yogurt and fruit. As I became more comfortable navigating the city, I stopped sticking to the basic running route along the river and began to venture further onto mountain trails. I would run longer and longer just so I could see what was around the corner of the next bend or over the next curve in the road. With time, the confidence expanded to adventures outside of Austria.” By: Kathryn Marshall ’17, Alumnae For more of Kathryn's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 Fall Newsletter)


Central College Studies in Global Health, Summer 2015

”The friends I had made with the locals began to affectionately refer to me as ‘gringa’. I was shown world-class hospitality at local bars, restaurants and by professors who referred to me as preciosa. Excursions to Mayan ruins, local pueblas, soccer games, and beaches brought the Mexican culture to life. I will always remember the colorful city wall, vibrant music, and people on the streets who smiled and said hello rather than bury their heads in their phones.  While enjoying the a day at the beach, I was scheduling my next few days out loud, being a typical gringa, when a local friend swiftly reminded me that in Mexico life is meant to be enjoyed.” By: Leah Ramaekers, Alumnae For more of Leah's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2015 Essay Contest) 

Ecuador Summer Program

 2016 Ecuador Summer Program

“The opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador was a unique and life-giving experience. It is so rare to have the chance to visit the only capital in the world that starts with a Q, spend a week in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, and travel on a yacht in the Pacific Ocean. We dived right in as soon as we got there and indulged in everything Ecuador had to offer us.” By: Princess Mae Visconde  For more of Princess's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 CWIL grant paper)

Ecuador Study Abroad

“My study abroad experience in Ecuador was very unique and one of a kind. During our trip, we visited three different geographical locations and spent a week in each place. First we landed in Quito and stayed in the Andes Mountains, then we traveled to the Amazon rainforest, and finally we lived on a boat in the Galapagos Islands. This experience was meant to serve as a biology learning experience but we were also able to interact with the surrounding cultures and a little practice Spanish.” By: Megan Uekert  For more of Megan's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 CWIL grant paper)

Ecuador Study Abroad Reflection

“The sights that I experienced were breathtaking. I saw sights from the top of a Kapok tree in the rainforest, to the cliffs off of the Galapagos Islands, to the vastness of the Andes Mountains. I travelled to a rainforest that had Kapok trees that were up to five centuries old. I saw howler monkeys, Hoatzins, caimans, tarantulas, leaf cutter ants, blue footed boobies, Darwin’s finches, sea lions, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, sharks, and many more animals. I returned home with stories of shark attacks, never ending airport layovers, earthquakes, as well as stories of nights spent singing and laughing with new friends. Now that I have returned home, I am grateful for these unforgettable memories and experiences to tell my friends and family. However, I gained so much more than that. Studying abroad in Ecuador provided me with so many opportunities for intercultural engagement.” By: Madison Carmichael 18’ For more of Madison's story, check out the rest of her essay here (2016 CWIL grant paper)

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: Summer 2016

“I had never been to a beach before coming to Puerto Rico; once I stepped foot and had my toes in the sand, I didn’t want to leave. My first initial thought of Puerto Rico was “it can’t be different from the U.S. since it has U.S. influence, I know laugh at myself for thinking this idea. From my glance through the airplane window, I could see the tropical beauty and the lovely blue sea which enticed to get off the plane and see the beauty and culture Puerto Rico has to offer. Besides the gorgeous beaches, P.R. has so much history and landmarks that are worth exploring. One of my favorite places seeing was the Castillo San Cristobal; a fortress on the edge of the water with defense walls and weapons. It was memorable that not only did I get to hear the history of the Castillo San Cristobal fortress but actually be able to walk through the fortress and experience the history being retold.” By: Melissa Mendez  For more of Melissa's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 CWIL grant paper)


Study Abroad Summer 2016 – Rome

“In Rome I was enrolled at John Cabot University and took two classes; they consisted of a religion class called “The Popes of Rome” and a historical perspectives class called “Rome and its Monuments”. Both these classes helped enrich me in the surroundings of the wonderful city I was staying in, and I truly felt immersed in its history and culture. In Rome, seven other Saint Mary’s students and I got to experience the new program at JCU for the first time, and I can assure you we were very pleased with it. The apartments we were placed in were very nice and comfortable, and it was such an amazing experience to share the apartment with nine other students from other schools in America. I made new friendships with some of these students, and the memories we share in Rome together will always remain a special thing. Navigating the bumpy cobblestone streets of Rome and Trestevere (where our apartment is located) with new friends and fellow Saint Mary’s students fills me with nostalgia on my study abroad experience” By: Mary Claire Mordini 18’ For more of Mary Claire's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2016 CWIL grant paper)


Morocco 2016 

"Studying abroad has expanded my world. As a Global Studies major, I have studied the importance of global affairs and the impact they have on local and global communities. I studied abroad in Morocco during the spring of 2016. I had an amazing experience that made me more independent and confident. This new found confidence, however, did not occur without some challenges. I experienced loneliness, encountered some language barriers, and learned the importance of vigilance as a traveler. These experiences, along with the wonderful friends I made along the way, also helped me to learn more about myself and the environment in which I was immersed.  By: Elizabeth Quaye 17’, Alumnae

China Summer Study

China Summer 2017

This past summer (2017) an alumna was gracious enough to sponsor my trip to China. This trip was not on my radar, however, it has been a blessing that keeps on giving! In China, we learned so much about the influential women who made an impact in Chinese society-- such as Soong Ching Ling. We visited some of the tourist sites (i.e. the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Shanghai Bund); we also visited some sites which were off the beaten path (such as the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, the All-China Women's Federation, and a special education school for deaf, mute, and blind children). This trip in particular was special because it was the first time students were accompanied by alumnae. It was such a privilege to travel and bond with some of our wonderful senior alum!" By: Elizabeth Quaye ’17, Alumnae

Uganda Summer Practicum

Uganda Summer 2017

“My time in Uganda allowed me to grow in my spiritual life, as an educator, and a global citizen exponentially. While in Uganda I lived with 8 Sisters of the Holy Cross and 3 other Saint Mary’s students. Living with the sisters gave us a glance into the daily life of the dedication and faith the sisters withhold in the convent, at the clinic and school, and in their community. Given the opportunity to plan and teach 5-6 lessons each day at Moreau Nursery and Primary school helped me become more confident, create a portfolio of lesson plans, and work on my patience and understanding dispositions.” By: Katherine Soper ‘18

“The sisters were also a big part of the experience. They took care of us and we shared many laughs and good times. From watching movies to cooking and teaching them to dance, we shared cultures and it was great to see people that were so open to learning from us. I guess I never realized that the sisters could be like a family, but they were just that. We had a sister that was a hovering mother that would worry about us and make sure we were okay. We another one that would tease us relentlessly, while another sister was a literal angel and would be there with us when things were hard or we were sick, and would save any creature she would see in trouble. They each had their own unique personalities that really went well with ours” By: Jovita Lledo ’17   For more of Jovita's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2017 CWIL grant paper)

Greece Summer, 2017

 “Our trip consisted of ten days in Greece traveling from Thessaloniki to Athens and stopping at many wonderful cities along the way. We visited different sites with historical, cultural, and religious significance. We witnessed Meteroa’s breathtaking sandstone towers and toured the Byzantine Chursitian convents which were built on top of these nearly-vertical towers in the 14th century. The architecture, beauty and preservation of the convents were amazing to see. The convents had importance in preserving Chrisitanity, which is central to Greek Culture. Being an athelete and a sports fan, I was excited to visit Ancient Olympia. We toured the site of the ancient Oympic Games and even ran the track. I was fascinated to learn about the formation of the games that have become a great tradition in the modern world. Another interesting site we visited was Ancient Corinth. I glimpsed into Ancient Greek life by observing the ruins left from the city. History never felt as real and revelant as when I was in Greece.” By: Rachel Bonek For more of Rachel's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2017 CWIL grant paper)

European Summer Abroad Program

“My favorite experience of my time abroad was climbing Arthur’s Seat. Before I traveled I did a little research on the places I would be visiting and asked others what came to mind when they thought of these places. Several people mentioned Arthur’s Seat as the one place everyone should hike in their lifetime if traveling through Scotland. I figured it would be similar to the suggestions to see the Eifel Tower and take a picture in front of Big Ben by a phone booth. What I hadn’t expected was that the mountain would steal my heart. There is just something special about an ecotone such as Arthur’s Seat; a mountain of an extinct volcano nestled between the sea and a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Edinburgh’s character extends to its beautiful old buildings aged by the acid rain and to its welcoming inhabitants who carry on lively conversations with you wherever you may find yourself.” By: Brooke Lamb For more of Brooke's story, check out the rest of her essay here. (2017 CWIL grant paper)

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