Alumni

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2018-2019

A I F S ambassador Hannah Natale
  • Hannah Natale
  • University of Vermont
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Spring 2018

Hey everyone! My name is Hannah Natale and I am a senior at the University of Vermont pursuing a degree in public communications. I have a love for travel and this came to light a few years back when I volunteered abroad in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Ever since I’ve had the desire to study abroad. I finally got to live out my dream and travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina during spring semester 2018. I am so excited to share this passion with other prospective study abroad students. It truly is the experience of a lifetime. While studying abroad you learn a certain skill set that you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to experience and I believe that every student should have this opportunity.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. – Martin Buber

A I F S ambassador Hanna LeBuhn
  • Hanna LeBuhn
  • University of Connecticut
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Spring 2018

Hi everyone! My name is Hanna LeBuhn and I’m a Senior at the University of Connecticut. I’m a Global Health major with a minor in Spanish. Traveling has always been something extremely valuable to me and I knew I had to study abroad before I graduated college. I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina and am so happy I chose South America in general. There is so much more of this continent I want to see, but so grateful for the opportunity I had to experience a piece of it. I plan on working abroad after graduation specifically in a Spanish-speaking country. I’ve loved every chance I’ve had to experience new cultures, meet different types of people, and be out of my comfort zone. I don’t necessarily live by a specific quote but I really believe that no matter where you are in the world we are all connected somehow. I hope to inspire other people to go out of their comfort zone and take a chance on experiences rather than things, that will change their way of thinking and chance to connect with others.

A I F S ambassador Jane Greis
  • Jane Greis
  • Towson University
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2017

Grüß Gott! My name is Jane Greis and I’m a senior at Towson University in Maryland, majoring in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German. I had the amazing opportunity through AIFS to study at the Universität Salzburg in Austria during the Fall 2017 semester and could not have chosen a better city to spend my semester abroad. Not only did I learn so much about Salzburg and the surrounding areas of Europe, but I gained insight into and confidence in who I am as an individual and where I see my future taking me. While abroad, I had the opportunity to practice my German everyday and immerse myself in the Austrian culture throughout the city. Exploring the city of Salzburg is truly like walking through a fairytale and living in that fairytale for four months is an experience I will never forget. Through being an AIFS Ambassador, I’m excited to share my insights into and love for the study abroad experience!

“Reisen ist die Sehnsucht nach dem Leben. / Travel is the longing for life.” - Kurt Tucholsky

A I F S ambassador Sloan Nickel
  • Sloan Nickel
  • Drake University
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Spring 2018

Hello! My name is Sloan Nickel and I am a junior at Drake University studying International Relations and Law, Politics, and Society. As an International Relations major, I always knew I wanted to study abroad. The major problem?: picking a place to study! Then I found out I could study abroad in the mountainous country where Julie Andrews danced and sang along to catchy songs such as “Do Re Mi”. After looking through the millions of pictures of the beautiful mountains and green countryside, I was hooked to say the least. Over the course of the 4 months of my study abroad I fell in love with every part of Austria. I loved the food (apple strudel and schnitzel!), the people, the countryside, and the beautiful city of Salzburg. And of course, I saw a lot of the Sound of Music sites. Besides the Sound of Music gazebo, another one of my favorites parts of Austria was the centrality of the country. It allowed me to travel to 11 different European countries throughout my time abroad. Travelling was an amazing experience, made even better by the friends I was able to travel with. AIFS allowed me to meet some amazing people that proved to be great travel buddies and lifelong friends. I’m so glad I studied abroad and had the experiences I did with the people I met, and I can’t wait to help others find their new favorite people and places!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain

A I F S ambassador Trevor Tuxill
  • Trevor Tuxill
  • Grove City College
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2017

Hallo! My name is Trevor and I am a senior at Grove City College located in western Pennsylvania. I am dual majoring in accounting and international business with a concentration in German. At Grove City I am a part of the touring choir, accounting society, and work in the Office of International Education. Studying abroad in Austria gave me the opportunity to grow not only in my German while living in an immersive environment, but also grew in my confidence and independence in all of my adventures. It was quite an experience to be able to meet people not only from the United States, but from all around the world. One thing that stuck with me is that my semester abroad is only the beginning of so many other experiences that I hope to have. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged to the greatest extent. I would do it again at the drop of a hat and it’s created a desire to continue to travel. To find those small nooks and crannies that go unexplored. To not be a tourist, but a traveler. Bis spater!

“There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, may they always be!”

A I F S ambassador Jacquelyn Chin
  • Jacquelyn Chin
  • Howard University
  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2018

Let’s get into it! As a Senior Psychology Major, studying abroad has taught me more about human behavior than any textbook could. Being a student of life is about living outside of your comfort zone. It would have been easy - incredibly easy to stay where I was and do what I was used to. But I knew I wouldn’t grow that way! I think that to really know yourself, you have to be willing to shed everything you know - your language, way of life, even friends and family for some time. And when that happens, you learn to view yourself in a global context. While living in Costa Rica, immersed in a foreign language and culture for 3 months, I realized that we each have an obligation to one another - to both teach and learn. My experience through AIFS taught me how language shapes reality. We as students must work to create a better, more connected, and more sympathetic world. As I pursue my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, I hope to provide free art therapy to Black and Latinx (Spanish-speaking) communities placed at risk. I am so excited to help other students discover and define themselves through this life-changing opportunity - feel free to ask me anything!

“Our lives our not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And with each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” - David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas”

A I F S ambassador Tara Maxey
  • Tara Maxey
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Fall 2017

Pura Vida! My name is Tara Maxey and I am a senior at Concordia University Irvine. I am majoring in theatre with and emphasis on acting and directing. Studying abroad was never initially in my plans when I got into college. I thought it always looked cool, but I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to do so. Living in Costa Rica for 3 months was the best decision I have ever made. Being able to live with a host family, meeting so many other students that have turned into lifelong friendships, excursions that I will never forget, and an increased education that will stick with me for the rest of my life were just half of the many blessings that received by studying abroad. I know that whenever I return to visit Costa Rica, I will have a loving family and friends that will act as though I never left. I am so grateful for AIFS!

A I F S ambassador Ali Mumbach
  • Ali Mumbach
  • Texas State University
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2018

Hey y’all, my name is Ali (sounds like alley and is not short for anything). I’m from Houston, Texas and I am going into my senior year at Texas State University, majoring in sociology and minoring in journalism. I find the social behaviors, traditions, and beliefs of people to be extremely interesting. There are so many more opportunities to learn from the differences between people, rather than ignoring or suppressing them. Culture is the foundation on which people’s customs and values are formed – this is what I love to study. And that is exactly what I got to do for four months this past semester in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Living in Costa Rica was the opportunity of a lifetime and as anyone who has studied abroad anywhere says, I am a different person because of it. Not only did I experience a new culture, see the most beautiful views of my life, eat delicious food, travel to countries outside of Costa Rica, and make friends who I will know for many years to come, but what impacted me the most about studying abroad was learning more about myself. It’s probably clichéd at this point, but it’s true. Something about going to an entirely different place creates the moments you need to discover yourself. But don’t take my word for it, go try it!

“Man’s relation to man and man’s relation to God are one relation.” - Howard Thurman

A I F S ambassador Maureen Sampson
  • Maureen Sampson
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2018

Ahoj! My name is Maureen Sampson and I’m currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I study Marketing and I am planning on graduating in May 2019. I was fortunate enough to pick up a minor in International Management at the University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic in Spring 2018. I went into studying abroad with an open mind and excited as ever and I came back with so much knowledge about the history that went on in all the places I visited. I had the opportunity to go to 12 countries and 20 cities during my experience. I have always craved adventure and gone out and done those crazy things even if they are life threatening! I led a two-week rafting expedition and mountain climbing team and had to survive off of what was in my bag. However, going to Prague was a totally different experience. I learned to adapt to strange and uncomfortable situations, especially language barriers quickly and it has made me a much more confident and outgoing person. Studying abroad has shaped me into an even better version of myself. I will forever treasure the memories and friends I made in Prague and I can’t thank AIFS enough for that!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

A I F S ambassador Laura McIntosh
  • Laura McIntosh
  • Ohio State University
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Laura McIntosh and I am going to be a senior at Ohio State this upcoming fall semester. I am majoring in health sciences with a biology minor and am applying to a fast track nurse practitioner grad school program this summer. Going abroad to Prague my sophomore year was single handedly the best choice I made in my college career thus far. Being exposed to new cultures, new cities, and new people changed my perspective on life and on people for the better. It challenged and changed me in ways that are immeasurable and everlasting. It made me grow into the best version of myself and created a wanderlust within me that will never be satiated. I am very excited to meet and hear about all of your experiences and more importantly hear of all the places I will have to visit next.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Nelson Mandela

A I F S ambassador Katerine Cuzco
  • Katerine Cuzco
  • McDaniel College
  • Galápagos, Ecuador
  • January Term 2018

Hi there! My name is Katerine Cuzco and I am a senior at McDaniel College. I’m majoring in Biology and Environmental Science and I hope to pursue a career in Marine Biology and Conservation. I am passionate about the environment and its biodiversity and I always wanted to visit Galápagos because of its flora and fauna. I’ve heard great things about Galápagos and I promised myself that I would go there. I found out that AIFS provided a JanTerm to the islands. I took this opportunity and I packed my bags and I was ready to go to Ecuador since the day I received my acceptance letter. When I got to Galápagos I fell in love with it. Every day was an adventure for me. I had the opportunity to make great friends and to go on trips such as swimming with hammerhead sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, and tons of colorful fish. It was a paradise and I will definitely go back to Galápagos. This experience helped me to step out of comfort zone and to learn more about my strengths and passions. I learned a lot from my homestay family and they helped me become familiar with the culture. This experience opened my eyes and helped me figure out what I want to do in the future. I believe that studying abroad changes your perspectives, it allows you to see the world from a different view. You make great friends and you learn a lot about yourself that you didn’t even know.

A I F S ambassador Angelena Castro
  • Angelena Castro
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Berlin, Germany and London, England
  • Summer 2015/ Fall 2017

Hello Everyone, I am Angelena Castro a senior at North Carolina A&T State University. I am studying Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Multimedia. I aspire to executively produce a children’s television series. I was raised in a small rural town in the south of North Carolina. Ready to explore, at the age of 18 I went to study abroad in Berlin, Germany with AIFS. As expected, my life was forever changed as a result of that decision. For the first time I felt an incredible amount of independence, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I made sure to attend my classes and maintain good grades. When I returned to U.S. I knew I absolutely wanted to study abroad again. So, during the fall semester of my junior year I was busy falling in love with the city London. In contrast to my first experience I engaged more with the community around me. I made friendships that I will value forever. This will be my second experience as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador. I hope to reach and inspire even more people than I did before!

“Block out all negativity”

A I F S ambassador Jada Jefferson
  • Jada Jefferson
  • Western Kentucky University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2018

Hi everyone my name is Jada Jefferson! I’m a rising senior at Western Kentucky University double majoring in Theatre and Diversity and Community Studies. I just returned from a semester in London and it had to be the most life changing experience of my life thus far. From the busy, fast-paced streets of London to the relaxed, bike riding people of Amsterdam, I found that the world was my oyster! While at my home college, I found myself getting caught up in the stress of trying to make the perfect grades and be the perfect student, that I knew I was missing out on the experiences most college students get to have. I realized studying abroad would be the perfect solution to this problem. I never thought that someone like me would be able to study abroad, but through AIFS, I was able to have the most meaningful experience and with so many scholarships! As an AIFS Ambassador, I want to ensure that no matter who you are or where you come from, studying abroad can be for you!

“If you’re afraid to dive, then dive afraid.” - Viola Davis

A I F S ambassador Anthony Walton
  • Anthony Walton
  • Ball State University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2018

Hello everyone! I am Anthony Walton and I will be a senior this fall at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Originally from Dayton, OH, I came to BSU to pursue a career in business and that is exactly what I have done. I am a marketing major, English minor and on campus I am involved in many different clubs and student organizations. I am a member of the BSU American Marketing Association, the Ph.D. Pathways Program, as well as a Peer Advocate Leader for the multicultural center. Studying abroad for me was a way to expand my perspective and really see what the world has to offer. I grew up in an environment where diversity was embraced and encouraged, so it was vital for me to have part of my educational experience take place in an international setting. London, England is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and my time as a student there allowed me to meet and network with students and professors from all over. I was able to travel to three other countries with new found friends, and my semester abroad has started the fire within me to travel for the rest of my life. I encourage everyone to study abroad, especially underrepresented minorities, because the world is just too big to not go out and experience as much as you can! Where there is a will there's a way, and in my experience I have found that if you just take the first step… the universe has a unique way of making sure everything else falls into place. A quote that I will leave you with is:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

A I F S ambassador Nathalie Bidwell
  • Nathalie Bidwell
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Cannes, France
  • Fall 2017

Bonjour! I’m Nathalie a 4th year student at Ohio Wesleyan University. I am double majoring in French & Pre-Law. I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, which makes me a huge Ohio State Buckeye fan. At my university I am involved in Greek Life, Panhellenic Council, Pre-Law club, & work in the Office of Admissions. I love my family, my dog Addi, and traveling. Studying abroad was my first time overseas, which made it all the more exciting. While abroad I improved my French, made connections with other international students, and became a lot more confident in my own abilities, as well as eating a lot of baguettes. I can’t wait to see where I travel to next, and I’m excited to help you get started! Bisous!

A I F S ambassador Emma Kreutzer
  • Emma Kreutzer
  • University of Arkansas
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2018

Bonjour tout le monde! My name is Emma and I’m a senior at the University of Arkansas, double majoring in Finance and Accounting. I took a break from my job in the Office of Student Activities on campus to spend a semester studying abroad in Grenoble, France! It was the perfect city for me, and I loved every aspect of it, from the people to the paninis to the beautiful mountain ranges that surrounded Grenoble. Before I left to go abroad, I knew that I enjoyed traveling, thanks to the fact that I travel frequently because I go to school in Arkansas and my parents live in Alaska. After returning, I realized that I absolutely love it! Spending a semester in France helped me realize that I want to work at a company that deals with international business so I’ll have the opportunity to continue traveling the world and interacting with people of different cultures. (Maybe I’ll even get to practice some of the French speaking skills I perfected with my host mom! Though she may have a different definition of “perfected.”) My semester abroad was such a rewarding experience and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!

“She tries...but she does it with a smile!” – My host mom

A I F S ambassador Ekaterina Hauff
  • Ekaterina Hauff
  • Tiffin University
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Fall 2017

Hallo! I am a rising senior at Tiffin University double majoring in Psychology and International Business with a minor in Forensic Psychology. I was born in Russia and in 2012 moved to the United States. I am fully involved on my campus and hold several leadership positions that help me share my experiences. I enjoy working with people and being a change agent in my community. Last fall I had a fantastic opportunity to study in Freie Universität Berlin and travel around Europe. Throughout the semester, I made wonderful connections with locals and students from the U.S. In addition, I took five academic courses that helped me develop more profound knowledge of political and economic bases of the U.S. and Europe. During the semester, I did homestay that turned out to be an incredible experience, and I can’t wait to go back visit my homestay family.

“What you are will show in what you do” - Thomas A. Edison

A I F S ambassador Kelsey Bridewell
  • Kelsey Bridewell
  • California State University Chico
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Spring 2018

Szia! I’m Kelsey and I’m currently a senior at the California State University of Chico. I plan on graduating this next Spring of 2019, with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies of Public Affairs and a Minor in Marketing. At Chico State, I am a member of the sorority Alpha Phi and an active volunteer in the Chico community. In the spring semester of my junior year I made a last minute decision to take off and study abroad for four months! It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I studied abroad in the incredible city of Budapest! Not only did I have the opportunity to experience a different culture and university life, I made some true friendships that will last a lifetime. This experience recharged my love to learn and my passion to travel. While abroad I visited 9 countries and spent a good majority of my time immersing myself in the Hungarian culture. I encourage everyone to study abroad during their college career and embrace your curiosities while you are there. This unique experience will stay with you wherever life takes you next.

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” - Audrey Hepburn

A I F S ambassador Katrina Hanson
  • Katrina Hanson
  • Bethel University
  • Hyderabad, India
  • Spring 2017

Namaste! I am Katrina Hanson, a senior at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota and I will be wrapping up my B.A. in Business with an emphasis in marketing this spring. Growing up I had several cousins who studied abroad, my parents had travelled internationally and I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. In my spring semester of sophomore year I had the awesome opportunity to study abroad in Hyderabad, India. This experience was life changing, to say the least! I became a more independent young women, was able to do lots of traveling, and experience many new cultures. As a native to India, traveling back as an adult was quite amazing. I am grateful for the semester I had, people I met and memories made. After graduating in May I hope to pursue a career in international education where I can help young adults pursue dreams similar to my own.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

A I F S ambassador Nikki Weinkauf
  • Nikki Weinkauf
  • University of South Florida
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Spring 2018

Hi! My name is Nikki Weinkauf and I am a junior at the University of South Florida. On campus I am on a dance team and am also a member of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. To say that I was excited when I found out that studying abroad was a requirement for my major, Global Business, would be an understatement. I’ve known since I was a little girl that I wanted to see the world. That’s why I know that my study abroad experience in Limerick, Ireland will not be the end of my world traveling. One quote that I have valued a lot throughout my life so far is by Ricky Martin, “A hero can be anyone from Gandhi to your classroom teacher, anyone who can show courage when faced with a problem. A hero is someone who is willing to help others in his or her best capacity.” That is why one of my favorite experiences abroad was a volunteer program where I got to help out in the community that I was calling home for 4 months. I truly believe that we all have the capability to be heroes in our own way, and I hope to take that belief with me while I travel, and I encourage everyone else to as well.

A I F S ambassador Dylan DeJames
  • Dylan DeJames
  • College of Charleston
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Fall 2017

Whats the craic? My name is Dylan DeJames, I am currently a senior at the College of Charleston. I am an Exercise Science major, I hope of going to grad school and pursuing my dream to become a pediatric occupational therapist. I was lucky enough to spend last fall at the University of Limerick in Ireland. As cliche as it is studying abroad changed my life for the better. I found a group of people that I immediately connected with, my AIFS peers! Everyone was there for the same reasons ready to explore and up to any new adventures. We all chose Ireland for some reason making it easy to bond, it was like making friends at summer camp! Studying abroad helped me find myself, or who I wanted to be by surrounding myself with incredible people, during a time I felt the window of making new friends in college had closed. I came back happier than ever, ready to tackle the rest of my junior and senior year. I cannot wait to share my experience with others and potentially give someone else hope for the rest of their college career! Cheers!

“Life is a journey to be experience not a problem to be solved” - Winnie the Pooh

A I F S ambassador Justin Edwards
  • Justin Edwards
  • Howard University
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Ciao! My name is Justin Edwards, and I am from Lafayette, Louisiana. I am a rising senior at Howard University in Washington D.C. where I study Political Science and Economics. Howard University helped open the doors to a life changing opportunity, studying abroad in Rome, Italy during the Spring of 2018. While in Rome, I studied European Politics and Global Issues. I was afforded the unique opportunity of interning at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center during my time abroad, where I worked on fundraising, data analytics, and French and English language instruction. I am passionate about empowering underserved and minority communities. During that same Spring that I was in Europe, I received the distinct honor of being named a 2018 Harry S. Truman Scholar for my commitment to leadership and service. Embodying Howard University’s motto, “Truth and Service,” I am both an avid scholar and a devoted public servant who plans to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree upon graduation.

“You, my friends, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the world, rather, serve one another humbly in love.” —Galatians 5:13

A I F S ambassador Chelsea Evans
  • Chelsea Evans
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Ciao ciao! My name is Chelsea Evans and I'm a senior at the University of Rhode Island studying communications and Italian. Studying abroad was an amazing opportunity for me to develop skills used in my majors. Since I was in Florence, Italy, I got to improve exponentially on my Italian skills but I also learned a ton about communication in general within somewhere other than the U.S. Living in Florence was an unreal experience; I had an amazing apartment located on Via de' Tornabuoni (the Rodeo drive of Florence), and got to walk to school with a view of the historic Ponte Vecchio. Studying abroad provided me with lifelong memories, friendships, and the best pasta I have ever had.

"Things don't happen, things are made to happen." - John F. Kennedy

A I F S ambassador Alexandra Landry
  • Alexandra Landry
  • Curry College
  • Florence, Italy
  • Fall 2017

Hi I’m Alexandra Landry. I’m a senior at Curry College. I’m majoring in Communication, concentrating in Corporate Communication and minoring in Politics and History. I’m from Portland, Maine. My semester abroad was my first time to Europe, which was very exciting. I visited six other countries while I was there: London, England; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; Interlaken & Zurich, Switzerland; Athens & Mykonos, Greece and of course, all throughout Italy. I took four classes while in Florence, one being photography, which is something I really enjoy. I spent my semester embracing the beauty and culture of Italy and the rest of Europe. I definitely took over 5,000 pictures. I’ve done two other study abroad trips through my home institution. They were both two week faculty led trips. One was to Cuba in January of 2017, and the other to Mexico in January of 2018. Both trips focused on the politics, history and culture of the given country, and the trips also allowed me to pick up my minor. I’m currently in the lead for most study abroad programs at my home school. I’m planning to go on the trip next January to Argentina.

“Well behaved women seldom make history” - Marilyn Monroe

A I F S ambassador Samantha Trippi
  • Samantha Trippi
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Hello Everyone! My name is Samantha and I’m a senior at Southern Illinois University! I study fashion merchandising and minor in marketing. On campus, I am a proud member of the American Marketing Association and the Public Relations Student Society of America. This past spring, I had the incredible opportunity of studying fashion in the original fashion capital of Italy, Florence. This experience turned out to be so much more than I could have ever imagined! I made friends from both America and Italy that I know will last a lifetime, I learned how to travel alone, a skill that is so valuable, and most importantly, I tried the best tasting food I’ve ever had in my life! ;) In all seriousness, I was given the chance to open myself up to new experiences, people, and cultures. This lead me to realize what I want to do with my career and a new passion for travel. I hope everyone reading this gets the chance to have their own life-changing experience studying abroad. Ciao for now!

“Don’t spend time, enjoy it.” - Anonymous

A I F S ambassador Carly Whiteside
  • Carly Whiteside
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Ciao! My name is Carly and I am going into my junior year at MSU Denver as a pre-nursing student. During the Spring 2018 semester I was lucky enough to study in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, and had the greatest time of my life. Not only did I meet amazing and life-long friends, but I was also able to experience the culture of many different countries. This experience allowed me to learn about the world first hand, and also taught me a great deal about myself. I was able to learn about being independent and how to navigate through any challenges life may throw my way. My time abroad has opened my eyes to my passion for travel, and has helped me decide that I want to continue to experience what other parts of the world have to offer. I would recommend studying abroad to any and everyone, because I truly believe that everyone should get to have the same learning opportunities that studying abroad provided me with!

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” - Mary Anne Radmacher

A I F S ambassador Zenya Capellan
  • Zenya Capellan
  • University of Tampa
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Ciao! My name is Zenya or Zen. I am a junior at the University of Tampa, where I study Political Science and International Studies, and a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. I am a lover of languages— I am fluent in English and Spanish, and can functionally speak Italian and French. In Spring 2018, I got to spend the best semester of my life in Rome. I took art history, European Union and Italian Language courses. It was amazing getting several on-site lectures since there are hundreds of churches in Rome filled with great works of art (mostly) for free. My favorite church was San Luigi dei Francesi (St. Louis of the French) with Caravaggio paintings. It was a great semester soaking up Italian culture, food, and art! Given Italy’s amazing location, I got to travel across Europe for 4 months while visiting places I only dreamed of going to. Studying abroad taught me so much about myself, including learning how to be independent and broadening my perspective on many things. I can only hope I can help other students have the semester of a lifetime, like I did.

“If not now, then when?”

A I F S ambassador Amie Knowles
  • Amie Knowles
  • Emmanuel College
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2018

Ciao! My name is Amie and I am from a small town in New Hampshire. Currently, I am a rising Junior at Emmanuel College, in Boston, MA. I am majoring in Elementary Education and plan to graduate in the Spring of 2020. When I’m not busy with sports, school, and clubs I am usually drawing or painting. This past semester I had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy! Being a lover of art, this was an incredible experience. This experience not only satisfied my need for art, but made me discover my true potential. I was able to travel to Krakow, Poland and Florence, Italy thanks to AIFS. Not only was I taking art history and language classes at my university, but I had the chance to volunteer in a school. I was able to teach 3rd graders English. Being a future educator, this was an experience that I will always remember. This experience allowed me to discover that I want to be an international teacher one day. I believe that I left Italy with a better perception of life after college, confidence, and the capability to be fearless in situations where I may not fit in at first. I am incredibly grateful for my experience abroad. I cannot wait to inspire others to take the jump, study abroad, and discover what life truly has to offer them.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Gandhi

A I F S ambassador Alissa Monette
  • Alissa Monette
  • Duquesne University
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Spring 2017

Hello friends! I once thought the transition from my small rural hometown in Western NY to Pittsburgh, PA for college was the biggest change I would ever experience. Oh, how I was wrong. Embracing on my journey alone to a tiny beautiful island on the other side of the world as a Sophomore in college topped anything I have ever experienced. If you asked me why I picked to live and study in New Zealand for five months, I really couldn’t tell you why other than being drawn to its natural beauty. The experiences starting with living with a host family in Suva, Fiji to living out of a van for ten days in the South Island of New Zealand taught me more about the world, humans and myself than I have ever learned from a textbook. Not to mention the amazing and inspiring people from all over the world I came across during my time in the Asia-Pacific region who also changed my perspective on life. Returning back to my home university in Pittsburgh, I decided to change my major the spring of my Junior year from Occupational Therapy to a more general Health Sciences degree to continue exploring my new found interests and passions. I hope to continue learning and growing thanks to these experiences abroad while simultaneously encouraging and inspiring YOU to embark on your transformative journey. So where will you go?

“Open yourself up to the world and the world will open itself up to you.”

A I F S ambassador Alexandra Augustine
  • Alexandra Augustine
  • Siena College
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Spring 2018

H! My name is Alexandra Augustine and I am a senior psychology student at Siena College in Albany, New York. This past spring I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand for almost five whole months! New Zealand has always been on my bucket list and having the chance to live there and fully submerge myself into the culture was an opportunity I couldn’t pass down. While living in New Zealand I took advantage of traveling as much as I could - not only throughout the country of New Zealand, but also to Fiji, Bali, and Australia. I have always had a strong passion to travel but these experiences were all completely new to me. On some of my travels I traveled by myself, facing new difficulties totally alone, which helped me grow so much as a person and my own individuality. I was able to enjoy some of these countries most amazing and beautiful places in peace and solidarity. In my other travels, was traveling with friends who I had only just met, which challenged me to be true to myself while accepting others for who they are, because at this point you’re both going through the same things. I have made friends from all over the world during my time here which I intend to keep and continue my travels with in the future. Studying abroad is an experience that forces you to break out of your comfort zone and try new things and in doing this, you will find that you may surprise yourself in your ability to adapt to new changes. There is SO much more to this beautiful world than your hometown and home university, I encourage anyone reading this to take advantage of studying abroad and spreading your wings into new opportunities!

A I F S ambassador Brooklyn Henderson
  • Brooklyn Henderson
  • Iowa State University
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Summer 2018

Hey everyone! My name is Brook and I currently attend ISU, where I will be a junior this coming fall. As a Biology major with a minor in Chemistry, I plan to one day join the human health field - though the exact direction remains to be seen! One method of exploring the vastness of the medical domain comes in the form of my study abroad, a public health program from Stellenbosch University in South Africa this summer. Though I have yet to depart and experience this particular adventure, I have little doubt that this trip with surpass even my highest expectations and leave me hungry to explore the rest of our world! Africa has always been the number one country on my list to visit (The Lion King may have been a slight influence), and so this trip is truly the ideal opportunity for both my personal and career goals. I’m looking forward to everything this program has to offer, particularly the things I couldn’t possibly expect.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” - Arthur Conan Doyle

A I F S ambassador Jordan Sharp
  • Jordan Sharp
  • University of Hartford
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Spring 2018

Hello! My name is Jordan Sharp, and I am a junior at the University of Hartford. I am studying Integrated Elementary and Special Education, so a service learning program at a school was important when choosing my study abroad program. I want to be a teacher because I want to make a difference in my students’ lives, even if it is in a small way. At Stellenbosch University, I took the Learning, Sustainability, and Community Engagement course, which allowed me to teach at a township school each week. On the walk from the bus to the school, our students came up to us, smiling ear-to-ear, grabbing our hands and proudly escorting us into their school. It was about more than teaching them English, we built real relationships. The difference in language and culture forced me to confront my biases and engage in critical reflection, which fostered mutual learning and growth. Outside of class, I enjoyed hiking mountains, eating delicious food, meeting locals, going to markets, and much more. South Africa has a little bit of everything, which made each day a new adventure! I loved my time there, and I cannot wait to travel again! As an AIFS ambassador, I hope to share my experiences and help others plan an amazing semester abroad!

“This is one corner… of one country, in one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy that’s a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much, so much to see.” — The Doctor

A I F S ambassador Sara Sprague
  • Sara Sprague
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Spring 2018

Hello! I’m Sara and I am going to be a senior this upcoming year at the University of Northern Colorado. I study sociology with a concentration in institutional inequality. I love to hike in Colorado, camp, cliff-dive and overall just enjoy being in nature. Therefore, South Africa was the perfect option for me. Not only do I love the outdoors, but I enjoy learning about new cultures and volunteering. Before leaving I was volunteering for the Global Refugee Center near my university, where I got to teach children. I took the incredible opportunity, and decided to study abroad in South Africa this past semester. My time in South Africa was full of endless growing opportunities and adventures. I took the learning for sustainability and community engagement course while studying in Stellenbosch. This class helped my peers and I become more socially aware and mindful of the world outside of our own. Also, in this class we went to the township of Kayamandi to work with the children. This allowed us to become more immersed in the Xhosa culture and put us to the test with our understanding of global citizenship. Like many, I love food! Trying new and good food is always fun. My favorite is a tie between lamb tails and zebra. It may sound a little odd, but it was pretty good! Overall, this experience goes beyond words and overall is very meaningful to me.

“The very basic core of man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” - Christopher McCandless

A I F S ambassador Matea Manterola
  • Matea Manterola
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola Hola! My name is Matea Manterola and I am a Junior at Oklahoma State University, majoring in International Business and minoring in Spanish. Traveling has always been my biggest passion and hobby, and I knew even before graduating high school that I had to study abroad in college. AIFS allowed me the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain, during the Spring 2018 semester. This beautiful and historical city was the best place I could have studied abroad, and being in Europe allowed me to experience and travel to eight different countries during the semester. Going abroad allowed me to live outside of my comfort zone and I was able to learn so much about myself throughout my journey. I truly believe that the best way to find out who you are is by leaving all your comforts behind: your family, friends, language, way of life, etc. Although I have grown up speaking Spanish my whole life with family, living in a Spanish speaking country allowed me to really immerse myself. After studying abroad I have confirmed my dreams of working abroad upon graduating from college and continue to travel the world. While abroad I met lifelong friends, gained a new second family, and found a new home that I will return to as often as possible. I will never be able to thank AIFS enough and I challenge every one of you to go out and live your best life abroad!

“I am in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” ~ John Green

A I F S ambassador Janikka Acosta
  • Janikka Acosta
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! My name is Janikka Acosta and I am a senior at the University of Rhode Island, majoring in Accounting. This past spring semester I studied abroad in Barcelona at La Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. It sounds cliché but ever since I saw the Cheetah Girls Disney movie growing up, I always dreamt of going to Barcelona to be a Cheetah Girl. When I saw the opportunity to study abroad there, I did everything possible to go. Still feels like it was a dream to be honest. It was one of the most amazing adventures/journeys of my life thus far! Being a first generation college student, support myself and paying for college, I did not think I would be able to go. After meeting with study abroad advisors and working many hours to save, the dream come true! Even if you are struggling or dream of traveling, I have always believed:

“Go after your goals, make a plan on how to accomplish it and with hard work, it can happen. Don’t give up no matter your obstacles because remember you only live once so chase your dreams.”

A I F S ambassador Greta Banks
  • Greta Banks
  • University of Alabama
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hello! My name is Greta and I am a senior at the University of Alabama, majoring in public relations and economics. I have always wanted to explore and experience as much of the world as possible, which is why I studied abroad spring of my sophomore year in Barcelona. I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, so Spanish has been a part of my life since I was young. I also love the sun and the warmth, so Spain seemed like a perfect choice! I have never loved living anywhere like I did Barcelona. Barcelona gave me four amazing months of warm, sunny days, beautiful hikes, trips to the beach, and great food. It also brought me to the people who would walk three miles up hill to split a baguette and watch the sunrise over the mountains. My time abroad taught me so much beyond what I learned in my classes while there. Everyday brought new experiences, and every weekend a new adventure. I love to encourage and inspire others to study abroad, as it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

“My heart is warm with the friends I make, And better friends I'll not be knowing, Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take, No matter where it's going.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

A I F S ambassador Kassy Blaschak
  • Kassy Blaschak
  • Drake University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! I’m Kassy and I am a senior at Drake University, studying Marketing, International Business, and Spanish. I studied abroad in the most beautiful place in the world, Barcelona, Spain! Not only did I fall in love with traveling, a new culture, and amazing food, but I also met tons of lifelong friends along the way. My experience in Spain was spent exploring, traveling to 12 countries, volunteering at Terral, and learning things about the world and myself that I never thought possible. It has sparked the travel bug in me and I am already planning my adventures back. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made and I can’t wait to help others to do the same!

“What is life, but one grand adventure?”

A I F S ambassador Jordan A. Cutler
  • Jordan A. Cutler
  • Claflin University
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Fall 2017

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jordan Cutler a senior at Claflin University, the first Historically Black College and University in South Carolina. I’m majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in public relations. I have two minors in Business Administration and Spanish. I am member of many organizations on my campus, including Pre-Alumni council, Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I can’t imagine living a stagnant lifestyle and that combined with my interest in others culture and my love for travel is what made me spend of the greatest semesters in Salamanca, Spain. What I thought would be solely a linguistic experience turned out to be so much more than I could have ever imagined. I strongly believe that if people appreciated diversity and practiced inclusion the world would be a more understanding and compassionate place. Upon graduation, I hope to create a public relations firm where I can help corporations implement effective diversity and inclusion practices in their work environments. I encourage others to travel, not only to see the world, but to learn about the world. The experiences I have will forever shape my perspective on others and life and as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, I’m excited to help others do the same.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.” - St. Augustine

A I F S ambassador Kaitlyn Emerson
  • Kaitlyn Emerson
  • University of Wyoming
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Fall 2016

Hola y bienvenidos a AIFS! Kaitlyn’s the name, exploring is the game. I absolutely loved my time abroad in Salamanca, Spain during the fall 2016 semester. In those five months, I gained valuable lessons in learning to love myself, improving my Spanish language capabilities, developing respect and appreciation for different cultures, and eating chocolate croissants every day without gaining any (okay, maybe a little) weight! Every single experience I had abroad from small acts like walking the Plaza Mayor while enjoying some gelato on a hot day (or a cold one -- gelato has no limitations) to grand excursions in Morocco, Italy, or the Canary Islands have affected who I am today. Not a day goes by that I do not use what I learned from my time spent in Salamanca. Currently, I am a senior studying Spanish, Spanish Education, and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. I love to learn new things which is why I love adventuring. In my free time when I am not studying, mentoring, working for the Education Abroad Office, or tutoring Spanish, I love to read, write, hike, color, bake, play with my dachshund, and take spontaneous trips to Barnes & Noble that usually end in my bookshelf a bit fuller and my wallet a bit lighter. A few things you should know about me: I am an avid Harry Potter nerd, enjoy a good cup of coffee, and am a fan of the oxford comma.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney

A I F S ambassador DaCota Hollar
  • DaCota Hollar
  • Capital University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Fall 2017

¡Qué tal! My name’s DaCota Hollar and I will be a senior at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio studying Spanish and International Studies. Going to Granada, Spain allowed me to live my high school dream of living in a Spanish speaking country. I flew to London with AIFS knowing nobody and left Spain three months later with friends and memories that will last me a lifetime. While studying in Spain, I was able to see all the major cities in the country and Burgos, Lisbon, London, the north coast of Morocco, and Bucharest, Romania! Whenever someone asks me what it was like studying abroad, I only have positive things to say! One of my favorite parts was living with a host family in the center of Granada; this was scary at first, but I improved my Spanish so much. I’m extremely excited to be an Alumni Ambassador for AIFS so I can help others have their own unique experiences abroad!

A I F S ambassador Hannah Hubbard
  • Hannah Hubbard
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2018

¡Hola todos! My name is Hannah and I’m a senior at the University of St. Thomas where I’m studying International Business and Spanish. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to western Europe, where along the way I visited the city of Barcelona, Spain. To make a long story brief, I fell head-over-heels in love with this city. I set my heart on returning back to Barcelona in the near future, and this past spring semester I was blessed to be able to do so for my study-abroad experience. Immersing myself into both the Spanish and Catalan cultures, as well as utilizing my Spanish speaking capabilities, was an incredible experience to say the least. Eating endless tapas in the Gothic Quarter, beach days, shopping in Las Ramblas, hiking, and weekend trips abroad were just a few of the many activities that I participated in during my free time abroad. My semester abroad in Barcelona helped to open up my eyes to the incredibly diverse world in which we live. Traveling the world is a life-changing experience like no other. I’ve learned to enjoy every single moment in life, both the big and little; that a backpack, passport, and your best friends are all it takes to have a life-changing adventure; and most importantly, I learned the value of friendship. It’s not about how long you’ve known someone that makes them a true friend, but it’s the memories shared between them that do. I owe my amazing semester to the AIFS Barcelona staff, who made it the truly incredible journey that it was. Their endless love, kindness, compassion and support towards me helped to shape my experience into a truly incredible one. I’m so thankful that I can call not only Minnesota my home, but Barcelona as well. For these reasons, along with many others, I’m super excited to be an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, and to help encourage and excite perspective students to take advantage of this truly amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Barcelona, ¡tienes mi corazón para siempre!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

A I F S ambassador Latisha Jensen
  • Latisha Jensen
  • Washington State University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! My name is Latisha and I am a senior majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring Spanish. I have dreamed of living in Spain and immersing myself in the culture since before college, so watching my dreams unfold before my eyes was a great feeling of accomplishment. Also it was my first time on a plane and overseas! This experience inspired me to continue to learn Spanish and gave me the confidence to plan more trips. I never expected to fall in love with a place and its people as much as I did. I lived with a host mother who is an amazing cook and my stay with her went incredibly beyond my expectations. I also made deep connections and friendships along the way. My next major destination travel goal is South America to a country like Costa Rica or Peru. I am passionate about food and vegetarianism as well and would like to write on this subject to educate others. I’ve learned through this experience that food and culture go hand in hand.

A I F S ambassador Tessa Kirk
  • Tessa Kirk
  • California Lutheran University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! My name is Tessa Kirk and I’m a rising junior at California Lutheran University double majoring in Psychology and Spanish. Long before heading to college I knew I wanted to travel the world and study abroad. I was so lucky to have been able to live and study in such an amazing city! I met so many amazing people and had the time of my life! As cheesy as it sounds it truly changed my life. I feel I am a better and stronger woman now and can take on any of life’s challenges. I learned so much about myself as well as the culture I was in. I lived with a host family and it was amazing! I have no complaints about my experience abroad because it was the time of my life! In the future I would like to work with individuals with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) and help make a difference in this world of ours.

A I F S ambassador Liza Thorell
  • Liza Thorell
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hey y’all I’m Liza Thorell! I am a junior at The University of North Carolina Wilmington in Wilmington, NC (Wilmington is Tree Hill for One tree hill lovers). I am currently studying Political Science and Communications studies. This past spring I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad for a whole semester in Barcelona, Spain. This is something I have dreamed about doing since I was a kid so I was so excited to go! I had the greatest time abroad, I was able to go to 11 countries and even got the chance to go to Morocco in Africa! Prior to studying abroad I had traveled to Europe, but actually living in Europe was totally different. Living abroad gave me the opportunity to become immersed in a completely different culture. I lived in a AIFS apartment abroad with assigned roommates. Those 3 assigned roommates went from roommates to best friends and my little Spanish apartment became my new home! Studying abroad was the greatest experience of my life and I miss it everyday!! Thank you AIFS for giving me the best experience abroad, I can’t wait to be an AIFS ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Emily Van Liedekerke
  • Emily Van Liedekerke
  • Saint Mary’s College of California
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2017/ Spring 2018

Hi! My name is Emily Van Liedekerke and I am a senior at Saint Mary’s College of California double majoring in Women and Gender Studies and JCL (Justice, Community, and Leadership) with a minor in Spanish. I was born and raised in Chicago but was drawn to California for the sun and adventure. I have always had wanderlust and I was motivated to study abroad in college after spending a month in high school studying with AIFS in Granada, Spain. Last year, during both semesters of my junior year, I studied in Barcelona, Spain and it was the best decision I ever made! During my time in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to create a new day each day. I explored the architecture, ate my way through the city, got lost in the tiny streets, swam in the Mediterranean, and so much more. I immersed myself in the Catalan and Spanish culture and Spanish language by living in both a homestay and Residencia while taking Spanish classes. Being abroad, I traveled to new cities in Europe (Prague was my favorite trip), met people from around the world, and grew as an individual. As an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, I hope to inspire students to go outside their comfort zones by studying abroad.

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” - Amelia Earhart

A I F S ambassador Jennifer Vargas
  • Jennifer Vargas
  • Rowan University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2016

¡Hola chicos y chicas! My name is Jennifer Vargas and I am a senior at Rowan University, in NJ. While studying abroad I realized I was in the wrong major so now i’m studying what i’m passionate about which is International Studies with Business and Economics and a minor in Spanish. During orientation before my freshman year even began at college, I knew I was going to Barcelona! Everything I SAY, I DO. Family and friends doubted me because of expenses and since I’ve never been out the country alone. Thankfully, I was lucky to have been awarded a scholarship with AIFS that give me the opportunity that changed my life. I proved everyone who doubted me wrong and I went to Barcelona for the Fall semester. I met so many people while I was abroad, such as the amazing professors, friends from all over the world and my homestay mom. Barcelona, Spain will always have a place in my heart, it was my second home. Studying abroad gave me a global perspective. It made me realize that I LOVE to travel, so I try to go abroad at least once a year and i’ve been to thirteen countries (most while I was abroad). I encourage everyone to study abroad. If I could do this entire experience all over again, I definitely would!

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” - Anita Desai

A I F S ambassador Xenia Vidal
  • Xenia Vidal
  • Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2017/ Spring 2018

Bon Dia! My name is Xenia Vidal and I am a senior at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles double majoring in Political Science and Spanish Translation. I studied abroad my entire junior academic year at the Universidat Autónoma de Barcelona in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Studying a year abroad provided me the opportunity for a complete cultural and global education. As a political science major and as a future candidate for elected office, studying in Catalonia in the midst of a heated political independence movement was one of the most transformative experiences I could have asked for. In a year, I have travelled from Iceland to Israel, Great Britain to Morocco, through 20 countries, and experienced more culture than most Americans do in a lifetime. I look forward to assisting, inspiring, and motivating other students to studying abroad and expand their horizons this year.

“Always lower your expectations so that you will never be disappointed.”

A I F S ambassador Benjamin C. Witkowski
  • Benjamin C. Witkowski
  • University of Wisconsin Whitewater
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! My name is Benjamin C. Witkowski and am currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater studying international business and sociology. Never would I have thought that I could call Granada, Spain my second home in this vast world. The experience of living in a completely different place among people who speak a different language and enjoy a distinct culture, has opened my eyes to a wealth of distinct perspectives that I now hold dear to my heart. As someone who strongly supports learning day-in and day-out, being immersed into a lifestyle other than my own proved to be one of the best ways to learn more about myself and the world. I encourage anyone that has even the slightest of curiosity to study or travel abroad to go and do exactly that. There are so many more aspects in our world that can’t be learned by merely reading a book and writing a paper based on its contents, but rather information that can only be obtained by living life through another perspective of the world. So why not go discover your second home in this grand world and see what you can learn for yourself?

“Rigore Obstinado” - Leonardo da Vinci

A I F S ambassador Joseline Cano
  • Joseline Cano
  • Dominican University (River Forest, IL.)
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! My name is Josie and I am currently a senior at Dominican University located thirty minutes from downtown Chicago. I am a double major in Corporate Communication and Journalism with a minor in Spanish. I spent my spring semester in the beautiful town of Salamanca, Spain. Studying abroad had always been a dream of mine since a friend’s sister first told me she was going to do it when I was in elementary school. Then I came across AIF through the study abroad office at my university. I knew I had to do it. By the time May 2018 came around, not only had I became a better Spanish writer, reader, and speaker, but I had visited eight countries and absorbed their culture and language as well. Studying abroad and traveling has opened up my eyes and heart to endless possibilities. I discovered my love for learning and understanding through my experiences. I hope to one day be a study abroad program director so I can make sure other students have the best experience of their lives.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

A I F S ambassador Taylor Lohmann
  • Taylor Lohmann
  • Boise State University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola a todos!! My name is Taylor and I’m a senior at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and I’m double majoring in general business and entrepreneurship management with a minor in marketing. This last spring I got the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and it was everything I dreamed it would be and more! Before studying abroad, I hadn’t traveled much but always knew it was something I wanted to do. When I found out more about studying abroad with AIFS my junior year of college, I knew it was the perfect opportunity and I just couldn’t pass it up! In just four months I went from only being out of the country once to traveling to twelve different countries, including places like Andorra and Morocco. I fell in love with every place I went and learned more about myself and the world in four months than I have in my entire lifetime. It was amazing to see so many different cultures and hear so many different languages, I even learned quite a bit of Español! Studying abroad really is an amazing experience and I’m so excited I have the opportunity to use my experiences to hopefully encourage other students to embark on this amazing adventure as well!

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” - John Green

A I F S ambassador Akilah Phillips
  • Akilah Phillips
  • University of Houston
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2018

Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Me llamo Akilah Phillips and I am a senior at the University of Houston where I am majoring in Human Foods and Nutrition and minoring in Spanish for Global Professions (Healthcare Concentration). I always knew that I wanted to study abroad in Barcelona but I never thought that a entire semester abroad in Europe would be possible. Thankfully, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra’s Global Health Program allowed me to finish the last classes I needed for my Spanish minor. Barcelona is an amazing city with so much to see and do. With an apartment 5 minutes from the beach, it truly felt like a dream. Inma and the rest of the AIFS staff there were unbelievably amazing and welcoming. The best part of being in Barcelona to me was being able to practice my Spanish everyday with locals. Not only did three months in Spain significantly improve my Spanish, but I learned just as much in the classroom as I did outside of it. Eight countries and 15 cities later, I feel like a true European traveler and I have been able to meet people from all over the world. I went into this experience completely open minded and I can honestly say I’ve gained a greater appreciation of this world because of it! I even used my three months to reflect on my choice in career paths. Upon studying abroad, i was premedical student a semester away from graduating but my time abroad helped convinced me to take an extra semester to pursue my passion in the field of Sports Nutrition. Studying abroad is a truly once in a life experience that I will treasure forever and these memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you AIFS for making this possible.

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2017-2018

A I F S ambassador Molly Dexter
  • Molly Dexter
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Fall 2016

I am Molly Dexter, a senior at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. I am currently studying Political Science and International Development. I love hiking with my two dogs, rollerblading, reading, and of course traveling. Getting to live in South Africa for 5 months was a dream come true. I made some amazing American and South African friends and was able to learn and experience South Africa’s culture. I went into it open minded, not knowing what to expect, and I came back with knowledge about so many injustices; not only in South Africa, but all over the world, including the U.S. It was perhaps the most influential time in my life and helped me find what field of work I want to pursue. Not to mention how much fun it was and the absolutely crazy adventures I went on, like shark cage diving in the great white shark capital of the world. It’s funny but sometimes I find myself using the lingo in situations that end up being a bit awkward. I’ll occasionally ask for tomato sauce (what South Africans call Ketchup) and I get really questionable looks from waiters. My experiences helped me gain confidence to travel alone and be much more willing to engage and connect with strangers. I hope that as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador I can help others experience amazing cultures and learn more about themselves and others.

A I F S ambassador Sara Whitman
  • Sara Whitman
  • Hofstra University
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2017

I am a senior at Hofstra University, majoring in journalism with minors in public relations, rhetorical studies and integrated media. On campus, I am a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, the Pre-professional Fraternity in the Arts and Sciences of Communications Zeta Phi Eta and my school’s radio and television stations. I have always been in love with falling in love with new places, and I am beyond thankful I had enough leeway in my degree to allow me to study abroad in the place I had always dreamed of visiting: Australia. Murdoch University and AIFS planned incredible trips for study abroad and exchange students that took me up and down the whole coast of Western Australia. I was also lucky enough to also visit Sydney, Cairns and New Zealand. I am super proud of myself for planning and executing a trip to Thailand with my friends at the end of the semester. Studying abroad has allowed me to live my dream of travelling as well as truly reflect on myself as an individual, for which I am forever grateful. Something I live by, which has been cemented in me after my abroad experience, is to always remember where I come from, but to never forget where I have been.

A I F S ambassador Nicole Remus
  • Nicole Remus
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2017

Hey everyone! My name is Nicole Remus and I am a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I got the exciting opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Perth, Australia. It even started with a crazy week of classes in Fiji, where we had an amazing host family to show us around. Since I am still undecided in my major, I have currently been completing my general education courses and was able to do so abroad. There was never a dull moment during my semester in Australia. I got to explore the outback, Fiji and the East coast, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and even go to Bali! I was able to do all of this and so much more with all the amazing friends I made! I made so many amazing memories with so many awesome people. The quote “life is short, and the world is wide,” always helped me remember to stay present in the moment and enjoy every second. My time abroad has helped grow me as a person in numerous ways and I want to help encourage people to study abroad as an AIFS ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Isabel Hansen
  • Isabel Hansen
  • Saint John Fisher College
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Isabel and I am a senior management major at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. Last spring semester I studied abroad in Perth, Australia, and had the most AMAZING time! I have always had a passion for travelling, and study abroad gave me the opportunity to see so much of the world in a mere 5 and a half months. My adventure-filled semester began with a 3-week trip in Europe and ended with a 3-week trip in Asia. During this time, I got to visit countries I’ve always dreamed of seeing such as Iceland, Greece, Thailand, and Bali. To top it off, I was also able to travel all over Australia and see the beautiful sites the country has to offer such as the Great Barrier Reef and Karijini National Park. Aside from traveling, I met the most amazing people whom I’m lucky to now call my best friends. We have so many great memories together, and I feel so fortunate to have found them! The staff at AIFS also helped make my study abroad experience incredible and worry free because they were there for me every step of the way. Whenever I had a question or concern, the AIFS staff responded to me immediately so I never once felt alone. While it sounds cliché, study abroad really is a once in a lifetime opportunity no one should miss out on. I’m so excited to be able to share my personal experience, and encourage others to begin their own study abroad adventures as an AIFS Ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Erin Cummiskey
  • Erin Cummiskey
  • University of Puget Sound
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Spring 2017

I’m from a small gold-mining town in Northern California and, after deciding I could use some more rain, am now working towards a psychology degree at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. By the good graces of my school, I was able to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria during spring semester where I caught the travel bug and became excited to see even more. I have recently had eight of my poems published in literary journals nationwide and hope to put out a collection in the near future. During the summers, I work at a nonprofit domestic violence and sexual assault organization in my hometown, and during the school year I make pizzas, participate in the film/media production and women’s intersectionality clubs on campus, am a DJ for an 80s New Wave radio show, and am a board member for my university’s chapter of Psi Chi International Honor Society. My passions are acting, crocheting blankets, and watching The Office over and over again.

“Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

A I F S ambassador William (Billy) Mayer
  • William (Billy) Mayer
  • Siena College
  • Viña del Mar, Chile
  • Spring 2017

Hola a todos! My name is Billy, and I am a senior Political Science and Spanish double major with a minor in international studies and a double certificate in Latin American Studies and Community Development (it’s a mouth-full, I know). In the Spring of 2017, I studied abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Even though it is so difficult for me to describe this amazing experience in words, one good way to describe it is through a joke that my study abroad friends and I always say to each other. We say “I peaked in Chile.” By this, we just mean that we really feel as though our experience in Chile was one of the best experiences we’ll have in our lifetime. For me, I met some of my best friends, made connections and lived with a wonderful host family, got so close to my AIFS coordinator and got to know dozens of beautiful places all throughout Chile and neighboring countries. I enjoyed my experience in Chile so much that I extended my semester an additional three weeks to travel around South America, only missing three countries until I’ve been to every country in South America! My study abroad experience combined with this travel experience actually changed my favorite quote to one you see above. I realized that people of the world, and especially of different countries, live in such diverse and different ways, but we’re all connected by something. For this reason, I learned that the best way to discover that thing and get to know all cultures the most is to live life a little crazy, and if people think you’re crazy long the way, so be it! Anyway, as an AIFS ambassador, I look forward to sharing my study abroad experience and helping others enjoy as much as I did! Salud and Chao!

“Hay un cierto placer en la locura, que solo la locura conoce”/“There is a certain pleasure in madness, that only the mad know”

A I F S ambassador Courtney Cooper
  • Courtney Cooper
  • University of South Carolina
  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Fall 2016

Hi! My name is Courtney Cooper and I am a rising senior at the University of South Carolina but I am originally from California. I am a Public Health major with a dance minor and am planning to get my Masters in Public Health in the future. I studied abroad in the beautiful country of Costa Rica in the Fall of 2016. I saw sloths, crazy looking fruits, and more monkeys than I’ve ever seen in my life. I am involved in a student organization that promotes sustainability on my home campus, so I was interested in going to a country that is mindful about the environment. Additionally, I love studying Spanish, so being able to totally immerse myself in that language was really exciting for me! I had an absolutely amazing time traveling around to all the corners of the country; watching sea turtles hatch, eating the best mango I have ever had, exploring natural hot springs, zip lining through the rainforest, and spending time with an incredible host family. However, I did not realize the impact being abroad had on me until I returned to the U.S. It completely changed how I handle frustrations in my life. Instead of viewing them as a totally negative experience, I try to look at the more difficult parts of life as learning opportunities. I couldn’t have done it without the AIFS staff- they were helpful, encouraging, and pushed us to explore. They truly gave us the tools we needed to succeed abroad and I could not be more grateful for my experience. I am very excited to be part of the Alumni Ambassador Program and give back to an organization that gave me so much!

A I F S ambassador Zsa’mine Hopkins
  • Zsa’mine Hopkins
  • Howard University
  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2017

Hello my name is Zsa’mine Hopkins,I’m a senior Political Science major, Spanish minor from California. I attend Howard University in Washington DC and was able to take part in the experience of a lifetime, living where most only vacation. I STUDIED ABROAD IN COSTA RICA!! Now I’m kind of obsessed with everything foreign language and am hoping traveling the rest of the world happens sooner rather than later. I’m also giving the vegetarian life a try and appreciating art along the way. I’m all about self empowerment and got a tattoo while abroad to reiterate that; Song of Solomon 4:7 “you are altogether beautiful my darling there is no flaw in you.”

A I F S ambassador Rachel Blanco
  • Rachel Blanco
  • The College of William and Mary
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Fall 2016

Ahoj! My name is Rachel Blanco and I am a senior at the College of William and Mary, where I study history and sociology. I spent fall semester of my junior year studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. My time abroad taught me so much about my own culture and perspective, and it really threw me out of my comfort zone. There is truly nothing that compares to the experience of traveling to a new country/city every weekend, learning first-hand about your resident country’s culture each day, and studying the history of a place while living in it. I wouldn’t trade my experience abroad for the world, and I became an AIFS Alumni Ambassador to help encourage others to experience it for themselves. My best argument for why it’s important to go abroad is a Neale Donald Walsch quote that came to be my motto while I was in Europe and has stuck with me since: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

A I F S ambassador Nadia Hucko
  • Nadia Hucko
  • University of Vermont
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2017

Dobry den! My name is Nadia Hucko and I am currently a senior at the University of Vermont. There, I major in public communications and minor in consumer advertising. For my spring 2017 semester, I was fortunate enough to be able to study abroad in Prague at the University of Economics. Since entering my freshman year of college, I knew studying abroad was something I wanted to do. Being in Prague was the most incredible adventure I’ve ever done. Since Prague is in Central Europe, I was able to visit 13 countries and 21 cities in just four short months. Being away from home for such a long time was tough at times but the friends you make along the way make it much, much better. The people you met end up becoming some of your best friends because you are all constantly together experiencing the same new and exciting things. Being from Boston, I ended up watching the Patriots win their fifth Super Bowl at 5:00AM with people I just met days before. Becoming an AIFS Alumni Ambassador will give me the opportunity to relive other students dreams of studying abroad and allow them to make the absolute most out of their experience.

“If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among the pearls.” -Anonymous

A I F S ambassador Jake Walkinshaw
  • Jake Walkinshaw
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Academic Year 2016/17

Dobry Den! My name is Jake and I am a senior at the University of Rhode Island majoring in history and political science with a focus in international relations. I studied abroad the fall and spring semesters of 2016/2017 during my junior year at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Spending the whole year abroad really helped strengthen my independence and my understanding of different cultures and ways of thinking, and it is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. My time in Prague as well as traveling around Central Europe gave me the opportunity the explore a part of the world that I have never been to before and has motivated me to go out an explore more parts of our world. Throughout my time abroad I have met the greatest people, made the best of friends, ate the outrageous food that is Central European cuisine, drank the best beer (yes, Czech beer is the best), and visited beautiful cities. After spending a year in a country that I have never been to before I have started to consider Prague my home, and I will truly miss it. I hope with being an AIFS Alumni Ambassador I will be able to share what I have learned throughout my study abroad experience and share it with other people so that they will be motivated to explore more of this world! Ahoj! Nashledanou!

A I F S ambassador Rachel Larson
  • Rachel Larson
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • London, England
  • Spring 2017

Hello! My name is Rachel Larson and I will be a senior this year at the University of Minnesota Duluth with a communications major and international studies minor. My whole life had led up to me studying abroad last semester (Spring 2017). Even though I was well prepared and thought I had everything under control, my experience wasn’t the best. I struggled harder than I ever thought possible. I almost bought a plane ticket home several times. But the AIFS staff was beyond wonderful, they kept telling me to try one more week, one more week. I quickly discovered Hyde Park to be a place where I could go to escape and think, I walked a lot (10 miles a day) to discover new corners of the city, met some amazing locals, and I eventually got more comfortable. All of a sudden it was May and I completed the program. I found my two close friends and stayed within the United Kingdom. But I did it. I didn’t let my anxiety keep me from living my dreams. I am excited to be working with AIFS and encouraging other students to take these opportunities of a lifetime, but be aware of everything that may happen. It isn’t as much of a cookie cutter experience that others make it seem on their social media. But it is an experience like no other where you can learn things about yourself and the world that you can’t back home. See where the world will take you. Cheers!

A I F S ambassador Nick Peterson
  • Nick Peterson
  • University of St. Thomas
  • London, England
  • Spring 2017

Ello Gub! My name is Nick Peterson and I’ll be a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN where I am majoring in Marketing. I studied abroad in London in the spring of 2017 where I also traveled to many other places during my four months in Europe. Living independently abroad for a whole semester was a once in a lifetime experience where I was always learning, adjusting, and trying new things. Studying abroad also introduced me to some incredible friends who I was beyond grateful to have met and experience the adventure of being college students in Europe. I am excited to share my story of studying abroad to help others realize that they should take the chance and just go for it! It’s very cool, very European!

A I F S ambassador Keely Fickau
  • Keely Fickau
  • Marymount Manhattan College
  • London, England
  • January Term 2017

Aloha! I’m Keely Fickau. I’m studying Communications with minor in dance and journalism at Marymount Manhattan College and I am a senior. I was raised in Hershey PA and moved to New York City, at the age of 18 years old. I’ve been lucky enough to work with incoming freshman and transfer students as a peer leader. I’m excited to be able to work with all students who are interested to study abroad. My interests and passions live through dancing at Broadway Dance Center, eating the most craziest desserts that can only be found in New York City and watching new and old TV shows on Netflix with my boyfriend. My motto that I live by is “It’s cool to be kind. It’s cool to be weird. It’s cool to be honest and to be secure with yourself.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

A I F S ambassador Mikayla Lawrence
  • Mikayla Lawrence
  • Western Washington University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2017

Hey there! I'm Mikayla, and I'm headed into my senior year at Western Washington University after an amazing semester in London, England. I'm an avid reader, writer and traveler, so the U.K. was my perfect temporary home! There, I met some of my best friends, visited places I will never forget, and learned that registering for Friday classes was a really bad idea. I'm more independent, confident and ambitious, and I can't thank AIFS enough for the opportunity to grow like that – which is why it's so important to me to help others find that same experience. In typical literature-student fashion, I truly believe that the world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page. I can't wait to hop on another plane, but I wouldn't want to spend my time in the States any other way than helping others do just that (and living vicariously through you, obviously). Cheers, everyone!

A I F S ambassador Danielle Pantano
  • Danielle Pantano
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2016

Hiya! I’m Danielle, a senior Marketing student at FAU in sunny south Florida. During the spring semester of my sophomore year I left home for my semester abroad in London, England. Ever since I can remember I have dreamed of living in England, London in particular, and that spring my dream became a reality. For the past eleven summers I have been surrounded by international staff , mostly from England. They all come over on a program with Camp America to work and live in camps across the United States for the summer. It just so happened, that the camp that I attended, and now work at, was a part of this program. In being surrounded by all these people, and hearing their stories, I knew that I had to cross the pond at some point in my life. My semester abroad was more than I could have imagined. It taught me a lot about myself and the people around me. It taught me to live outside my comfort zone and experience life in a way that I didn’t think I would ever get to. I made new friends and new memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. Everything they tell you about travel and study abroad is truer than I can tell you and if you are wondering whether you should study abroad, the answer is why haven’t you already?

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” - Saint Augustine

A I F S ambassador Peter Kivuva
  • Peter Kivuva
  • University of South Florida
  • London, England
  • Spring 2017

Welcome to a glimpse of my life! My name is Peter and I am a senior at the University of South Florida who is months away from finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. The quote you read above was a text that I received from my best friend while sitting at the airport on my way to what would be the semester that would change my entire life. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to study abroad during my college years. I’d heard of all the benefits from it: introspective growth, financial independence, advantages in career opportunities, new friendships all across the globe, etc. I planned to study abroad during the latter of my sophomore year (Spring 2016) and was devastated when it didn’t happen due to financial reasons. I spent the entirety of 2016 making sure not to squander this dream by gradually preparing for Spring 2017. With the aid of several scholarships, I was able to fund my entire study abroad semester and even had some extra cash to spend while abroad. I maintained a blog throughout the semester so that when I get old, I can look back on the experiences I had in Europe with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. As you can imagine, there shouldn’t be sand dunes in England like the ones you see in that photo above of me in the Sahara Desert. During the semester, I was able to travel to over a dozen countries and I am currently still traveling through the summer as well! There are countless stories and experiences that I could share with you in words, but take this leap of faith and create some for yourself. As an AIFS Ambassador, I am more than willing to help you every step of the way in making this the most memorable experience of your life.

“You’re taking on the world and finding out how vast and yet how small it really is. It’s big enough to always keep you wide eyed and gasping and small enough to feel like it belongs to you.” - Kiwi Guasco

A I F S ambassador Megan Slack
  • Megan Slack
  • Xavier University
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Megan, and I’m a senior Biology and French double major. Although my fields of study may initially seem unrelated, I think both are driven by my endless curiosity and the desire to expand my worldview in new, challenging ways. Study abroad enabled me to do this by immersing myself in a new culture, deepening my cultural understanding, drastically improving my French skills, and developing a new sense of independence and maturity. It changed my life, and I am so excited to share my passion for international education with my classmates this year! To me, study abroad is about crossing the threshold from tourist to sojourner. Instead of just taking cute Instagram photos and buying souvenir key chains, you are really pushed to understand and participate in local cultural customs. Having both the courage and the cultural humility to do this is certainly not easy, but it is absolutely worthwhile. When I’m not busy traveling the world, you can find me studying, horseback riding, reading a good book, attending a concert, drinking coffee, watching Netflix, arguing about politics, or working in a research lab.

“Hay un cierto placer en la locura, que solo la locura conoce”/“There is a certain pleasure in madness, that only the mad know”

A I F S ambassador Melia Markham
  • Melia Markham
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Paris, France
  • Spring 2017

Salut! My name is Melia Markham and I am a junior double majoring in French and International Studies. I spent the spring 2017 semester in Paris, France studying French language. My time in Paris helped me grow in ways I never imagined I could. I learned how to be independent and self-assured, and after my semester abroad, I feel that I can handle any situation thrown at me. I went on many adventures outside of Paris, travelling Europe with friends I made through AIFs as well as taking some trips completely on my own. I made it to 10 different countries in a single semester! Studying abroad was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I am excited to share my experience with other students once I’m back at my campus!

“I ride the subway, read the signs. I let the seasons change my mind.” - Lorde

A I F S ambassador Lilyan Rene Ching
  • Lilyan Rene Ching
  • Fullerton College
  • Cannes, France
  • Fall 2016

Hello! I’m Lily, and I am a double major in International Relations and French, I desire to work in the Peace Corps and eventually work in a diplomatic field after university. I have numerous experiences working abroad that make me a diverse and experienced candidate for these positions. In high school I interned with a documentary studio called “Princebury Studios” and travelled to China to help capture and show the differences in education across the world. In the past I have worked in Cambodia and in the past three years I have worked in Nairobi and Turkana, Kenya through non-profit organizations to help support the schools and people through various projects in order to help them develop in the best way possible within their own culture. Last year I lived in Cannes, France through AIFS and took a full French language immersion course for the duration of my time there. I grew greatly in my language capabilities and feel confident when speaking, reading, and writing in French and I believe my experiences studying and working in diverse environments has grown my mind and advanced my passion to work for and with people, countries, and cultures.

A I F S ambassador Kate Loomis
  • Kate Loomis
  • Carroll University
  • Athens, Greece
  • Spring 2017

Hi! My name is Kate Loomis and I will be a senior at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I am double majoring in Public Health and Health Care Administration with plans of attending graduate school for a Masters of Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology. I originally wasn’t planning on studying abroad because my course load is super strict on when I can take classes and the order I take them in. One day I was just scrolling through my school’s traveling abroad experiences (we need a cultural experience to graduate from Carroll University) and I noticed there was an option for Greece. Ever since I could remember, I have always wanted to travel to Greece and experience the culture and mythology. I looked through it in hope and found out that I could study abroad for J-term and summer instead of an entire semester abroad. I choose J-term because I didn’t know if I could handle more than a month from my friends and family. It ended up being the perfect amount of time for me and I absolutely loved my experience in Athens. The course I took was basically a field trip every day to the ancient monuments of Athens while we were lectured about the mythical and actual history of how it came to be. I met an amazing group of friends that I clicked with instantly. Every day we traveled around Athens, finding hidden gems and eating amazing food. It was a great experience for me being on my own and I can’t wait to help students on my campus find their dream location for studying abroad, no matter what term they go. I am super excited to be an AIFS Alumni Ambassador because I have found that I love helping my friends with their traveling preparations, so I can’t wait to help the people I don’t know.

A I F S ambassador Katrina Hanson
  • Katrina Hanson
  • Bethel University
  • Hyderabad, India
  • Spring 2017

Hi! I’m Katrina and I am a junior at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, pursuing a degree in business. I studied abroad at the University of Hyderabad in India in the spring of 2017. Going abroad in college was something I dreamed of all my life. Living and studying in India was amazing, I was exposed to a completely different culture and met a lot of wonderful people, I am so glad I was able to have this experience. I believe it is so important to spend time in another culture because it is a great way to learn about the world and grow as a person. I hope to go back to India in the near future and am looking forward to being an Alumni Ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Erika Farr
  • Erika Farr
  • Augustana University
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Academic Year 2016/2017

Hello! My name is Erika, and I am currently a senior at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. I am an Elementary Education major with a minor in Special Education. I studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland, for the academic year of 2016/2017. Spending the year abroad helped me understand and experience different a culture in a new way. My time in Ireland allowed me to explore new interests, see and experience parts of the country with a rich history, and connect with the locals, making connections that I will have for years to come. During my time abroad, I made lifelong friends, kayaked in Ireland's best spots, and visited cities I never thought would have been possible. After a year in a new country, Ireland will always be a place where I feel at home and a place I will return to one day. I hope that by sharing my experiences, it will inspire others to begin a similar adventure.

A I F S ambassador Catherine Rollins
  • Catherine Rollins
  • California State University San Marcos
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2017

Hi! I'm Catherine. I am a senior at California State University San Marcos studying communication. I was fortunate enough to spend a semester in Rome, Italy where I learned more about myself and the world than I ever thought possible. Coming from an Italian background really inspired me to learn more about my culture as it related to the language, the food and the everyday way of life. I was even able to attend Easter Mass at the church where my grandparents got married in Italy almost 60 years ago! Having the opportunity to study while also seeing the world gave me extreme perspective on how the idea of learning is way more complex than a textbook could ever provide. I hope to encourage and educate prospective students on studying abroad and why AIFS is the best choice, of course.

A I F S ambassador Blair Budzinski
  • Blair Budzinski
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2017

Ciao! I’m Blair Budzinski, and I am from Buffalo, NY. I am about to be a senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, majoring in Human Resource Management. I just returned from the world's best semester in Rome, Italy. In Rome, I met the greatest people, got to go on countless adventures, and eat the BEST food in my life. Every day of these four months was like a dream, and living one block away from the Vatican didn’t hurt either! Walking past that breathtaking view every morning helped me get motivated for the day and ready for classes. Classes in Rome were ones I never thought of taking when I was home in Rochester, but I am so happy AIFS opened my doors to them, they helped me find a new passion. Not only did Rome become my second home, I got to visit 7 countries and 28 cities; experiencing their culture broadened my horizons for the future. What everyone says about studying abroad is true, it is a once in a lifetime experience, but what I never expected was my new level of independence. I hope I get to help you experience this freeing and wonderful feeling one day!

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, I’m possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

A I F S ambassador Jaqueline Martinez
  • Jaqueline Martinez
  • Sacramento City College
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2017

Ciao! I’m Jaqueline, I am on my second year studying in Sacramento City College. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy in Spring 2017. Studying abroad was the best decision ever! I love being able to learn about different cultures and AIFS has helped me learn more. While I was in Florence, I was able to figure out the major I wanted to pursue. I will be studying psychology to pursue a career in counseling. I enjoy trying new things especially when I am traveling. The first thing I learned in Italy was to ask “What do you recommend” which is “Che cosa mi consiglia” . This phrase gave me have the best meals ever in all the restaurants I tried. I was scared to travel alone for the first time, but as soon as I walked through the streets of Italy the fear went away. If I ever get another opportunity to study abroad I would not hesitate in taking it.

A I F S ambassador Nick Deveau
  • Nick Deveau
  • Curry College
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2017

Hi, my name is Nick and I am going into my Senior year at Curry College as a Communication major with a minor in Psychology. Studying abroad this past Spring was the best decision, as it not only taught me independence, but truly culturized my understanding of the world. I met many great people along the way, and learned things about myself that I would have never learned otherwise. Along with spending a great deal of my time in Rome, I was able to travel to 12 countries, and visit 24 cities. Outside of Rome, Ireland was my favorite, as the views and culture there are truly something you can only understand when you experience it. Living in Rome however, my favorite part was living by the vatican, and being a short walk away from the Colosseum and other breathtaking views. The food was phenomenal, and the people were incredible. They truly made you feel like Rome was your home now too. All of this was made possible by AIFS, and choosing them was a no brainer. They are well organized and give a great balance of help, but also freedom. I hope that as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, I can encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and go after their goals, because it will be the best decision they make!

“On the other side of your maximum fears, are the best things in life.” - Will Smith

A I F S ambassador Sophie Spiegel
  • Sophie Spiegel
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2017

Ciao! My name is Sophie Spiegel, and I’m a senior at UC Berkeley pursuing a degree in media studies. Last spring, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and can confidently say it was the best three and a half months of my life! I arrived in Europe not knowing a single soul but left with an amazing group of friends only a few months later. During my stay, I felt completely immersed in Italian culture which was made possible by the awesome activities that AIFS provided, including wine tastings, gelato tours, and dinners with Italians. Every morning, I woke up and browsed the leather market, walked the antique, beautiful streets, and admired Florence’s rich history and culture. Although Florence is by far my favorite place in the entire world, I was also able to travel to eight other European countries with my friends! I had amazing experiences both academically and socially, and I highly encourage everyone on the fence about studying abroad to take the leap and just do it. After this experience, I was able to look at my own life and values with a better global perspective. I definitely caught the travel bug, and I can’t wait to help others actualize their dreams of studying abroad!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” - Susan Sontag

A I F S ambassador Julie Jent
  • Julie Jent
  • Berea College
  • St.Petersburg, Russia
  • Spring 2017

Julie Jent is a rising senior from Kentucky, attending that state’s Berea College, where she majors in Political Science. She speaks Bahasa Indonesian and Russian. She has received a Gilman Scholarship for study in Russia. In addition Julie has also studied in Indonesia on the USDINDO Summer Studies program. Julie participated as a Youth Ambassador in Malaysia under the “Kennedy-Lugar YES- Abroad Scholarship” while she was a senior in high school. She is on her school’s debate team, alumni council, and philanthropy committee, as well as the National Council of Young Leaders. The White House and Education Department recognized her with invitations to the Beating the Odds and Champion of Change conferences. In her spare time Julie enjoys weight lifting, extreme sports, and magic tricks.

A I F S ambassador McKenzy Kelley
  • McKenzy Kelley
  • Lake Forest College
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Spring 2017

Hello! My name is McKenzy Kelley and I am a rising senior at Lake Forest College. I am pursuing a major in African American Studies and a minor in Sociology and Anthropology. This previous spring semester I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad at Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Living and learning abroad, away from the comforts of home, truly forced me to become more independent and open to meeting new people and trying new things. This experience certainly opened my eyes to how oblivious as well as unaware I was about the world around me, global awareness and cultural understanding was something I gained being abroad. This journey undeniably provided me with a stronger desire to travel and to experience new countries that hold different cultures and customs from my own. I am looking forward to working as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and sharing my study abroad experiences with other students.

A I F S ambassador McKenna Jacobson
  • McKenna Jacobson
  • California Lutheran University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hi! I’m McKenna and I’m going to be a senior studying Business and Marketing at California Lutheran University in Southern California. I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain during the Spring 2017 semester and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Since the beginning of college, I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I had to transfer universities after my freshman year and I wasn’t sure if it would be a possibility for me. When I discovered AIFS, my dream became a reality. I originally saw myself studying abroad in London, England, but I had to complete a language requirement for my degree, so it made more sense for me to go to a non-English speaking country. Choosing to go to Barcelona was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I instantly fell in love with the lifestyle in Spain. I strengthened my Spanish comprehension and speaking abilities, and got to travel almost every weekend in Spain and to other countries as well. AIFS gives students the tools they need to balance their studies, traveling, and having a social life in exciting, new places. The staff is always available to help you with whatever you need, whether it’s dealing with homesickness or a recommendation for dinner. Studying abroad gives you the chance to experience a new culture and way of life, meet new people, and grow as an individual by gaining a global perspective. I can’t wait to meet prospective students and share my experience and insights with them. I strongly believe that everyone should study abroad if they have the opportunity!

A I F S ambassador Gina Baca
  • Gina Baca
  • Rowan University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • January Term 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Gina Baca and I will be a junior at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey this upcoming year. I am an emergency management major and pursuing a biology minor with a concentration in law and justice. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain over the January term of 2017. Experiencing the cultural differences between Spain and the United States was very life changing, and ignited my desire to travel even more. I have developed friendships with the other students that have continued beyond our time in Spain. I truly felt that AIFS made my time abroad greater than I could have imagined, and helped to create one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am excited to encourage other students to study abroad so that they too can make amazing memories and meet new people just like I did.

A I F S ambassador Nick Surovec
  • Nick Surovec
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hi! My name is Nick Surovec and I am a senior at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the spring, I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and business economics. The highlight of my college experience will undoubtedly be the semester I spent in Barcelona, Spain. The four months I spent abroad was very eventful as I made my way to twelve different countries, significantly improved my Spanish, and came home with countless memories. Going abroad I was told to never turn down an invite and to try new things. Living by this advice I came back home with experiences that I would never have been exposed to at home. One of my favorite quotes is “there is no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone.” This quote pushed me over the edge to go abroad as I felt this was a great opportunity to better myself. I am eager to help encourage others make a decision that their future selves will thank them for.

A I F S ambassador Lydia T. Johnson
  • Lydia T. Johnson
  • Howard University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Lydia and I am a junior Political Science and Spanish double major with a French and Japanese double minor at Howard University in Washington, DC. I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia but I currently live in Cleveland, Ohio. When I graduate I hope to participate in the Peace Corps and move on to earn my J.D. and Master’s in International Relations. I recently spent my spring 2017 semester at La Universidad de Granada in Granada, Spain, where I was exposed to an amazing culture and incredible intensive learning environment. Studying foreign languages and international politics is my passion, so I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad with AIFS. I got to not only explore the wonderful city of Granada (mi segundo hogar) but also Morocco & other European countries and learn about the dynamics of their cultures and roles within the European Union from a firsthand perspective. Where I come from some people have never even left their neighborhood, making my time abroad something of a rarity. I hope I can take my experiences from this past semester to inspire those around me to not only see the world, but to be an active part of it. Words I live by: A mistake without a lesson learned is just a wasted opportunity.

A I F S ambassador Greta Banks
  • Greta Banks
  • University of Alabama
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hello! My name is Greta and I am a junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in economics and public relations. I have always wanted to explore and experience as much of the world as possible, which is why I studied abroad this spring in Barcelona. I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, so Spanish has been a part of my life since I was young. I also love the sun and the warmth, so Spain seemed like a perfect choice. I have never loved living anywhere like I did Barcelona. Barcelona gave me four amazing months of warm, sunny days, beautiful hikes, trips to the beach, and great food. It also brought me to the people who would walk three miles up hill to split a baguette and watch the sunrise over the mountains. My time abroad taught me so much beyond what I learned in my classes while there. Everyday brought new experiences, and every weekend a new adventure. I love to encourage and inspire others to study abroad, as it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” –Oscar Wilde

A I F S ambassador Kaitlyn Emerson
  • Kaitlyn Emerson
  • University of Wyoming
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Fall 2016

Hola! Kaitlyn’s the name, traveling and learning are the game. I absolutely loved my time abroad in Salamanca, Spain during the Fall 2016 semester. In those five months, I gained valuable lessons in learning to love myself, improving my Spanish speaking capabilities, developing respect and appreciation for different cultures, and eating chocolate croissants every day without gaining any (okay, maybe a little) weight! Every single experience I had abroad from the miniscule things like walking to the Plaza Mayor to enjoy some gelato on a hot day (or a cold one -- gelato has no limitations) to the grand excursions in Morocco, Italy, or the Canary Islands have affected who I am today. Not a day goes by that I don’t use what I learned from my time spent in Salamanca. Currently, I’m a senior studying Spanish, Spanish Education, and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. I love to learn new things which is why I’m so addicted to adventure. In my free time when I’m not studying, eating, teaching Spanish, or working for high school programs I love to read, hike, color, bake, play with my two dogs and three cats, and take spontaneous trips to Barnes & Noble that usually end in my book shelf a bit fuller and my wallet a bit lighter. A few things you should know about me: I’m an avid Harry Potter nerd, enjoy a good cup of coffee, and am a fan of the oxford comma.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney

A I F S ambassador Naomi Stewart
  • Naomi Stewart
  • Hawai'i Pacific University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2017

¡Hola y Aloha! My name is Naomi Stewart and I am currently a Senior at HPU majoring in anthropology with minors in spanish and art history. I have lived most of my life in Southern California, but have moved around to 3 different states and 7 different cities (let's just say Hobbs, New Mexico wasn't much of a desert paradise). While I do claim to be a Californian, I am ethnically part-Hawaiian and Guyanese. I enjoy writing poetry, singing, and of course travel. I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Granada, Spain where I improved my Spanish speaking and writing skills; lived with a host family; and experienced a rich history evident in modern culture. I visited amazing places like Barcelona, Sevilla, and even Morocco! I volunteered with the homeless, singing with them in a choir (oh how their off-key voices managed to lilt), and ate pasteles for days. I could go on and on about Spain, but i must say that overall I met so many unique people and made unforgettable memories. I recommend study abroad to any student in any field! It's definitely a worthwhile learning experience!

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

A I F S ambassador Alana Madore
  • Alana Madore
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hola! My name is Alana Madore and I am will be a senior at UMass Lowell next year, majoring in business with concentrations in marketing and management. I just recently got back from the most amazing city in the world, Barcelona, Spain. My four months of studying abroad was the greatest experience of my entire life. I traveled to so many different countries, learned about new cultures, met amazing friends, and of course ate and drank the yummiest food. Barcelona has so much to offer and taught me lessons about the world and things about myself. Whether we spent our days shopping in the windy streets of the gothic quarter, tanning on the beach, hiking up the bunkers, or eating tapas at 10 PM we always had a great time. I am so grateful to have been a part of such an amazing study abroad program like AIFS. They have made my experience better than I ever thought was possible. I cannot wait to return to my new home away from home in the future. I encourage everyone to break out of their comfort zone and travel, you never know what you’re missing till you go out there and see it for yourself.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - Saint Augustine of Hippo

A I F S ambassador Michella Mousaed
  • Michella Mousaed
  • Mount Saint Mary’s University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2017

¡Hola! My name is Michella and I am a senior at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles. I am majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing. In the fall of 2018, I studied abroad in the beautiful Barcelona, Spain. This is a place full of well preserved history, architecture, art, and some of the best music one will ever hear. My study abroad experience is one I will not forget and one that is filled with wonder, exploration of different cities and the expanding of my own personal limitations. I did a lot of traveling with friends and by my myself. I was the most vulnerable by myself but that is when I got to experience Barcelona in a new way from the museums, historical churches, different community events, and random trips to different parts of the city. Traveling in Spain allowed me the opportunity to join two community groups where I got to volunteer during my free time. I even got to join an amazing international women's group that introduced me to fun events and introduced me to amazing women living in other countries. I have changed dramatically throughout this entire program and I want everyone to experience a form of study abroad transformation in their lifetime. Please let me know if I can be any help in navigating the study abroad process!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

A I F S ambassador Kassy Blaschak
  • Kassy Blaschak
  • Drake University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2017

Hi everyone! I’m Kassy and I am a junior at Drake University, studying Marketing, International Business, and Spanish. I just got back from the most beautiful place in the world, Barcelona, Spain! Not only did I fall in love with traveling, a new culture, and amazing food, but I also met tons of lifelong friends along the way. My experience in Spain was spent exploring, traveling to 12 countries, volunteering at Terral, and learning things about the world and myself that I never thought possible. It has sparked the travel bug in me and I am already planning my adventures back. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made and I can’t wait to help others to do the same!

“What is life, but one grand adventure”

A I F S ambassador Brittney Schrader
  • Brittney Schrader
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • European Art and Architecture, Travel
  • Summer 2016

Hello, Hallo, Bonjour, and Ciao! I’m Brittney, and I will be entering my final year at SIUE. Previously an Art Education major, I made an instinctive switch to Art History just before studying abroad on the AIFS European Art and Architecture program. This whirlwind adventure took me through six different countries in just four short weeks, and allowed me to see and experience more than I’ve ever known in my life. Before I had left, I’d never been out of the country or traveled without someone I already knew; I’d never even set foot on an airplane! I knew that this trip was going to be a life-changer, and was determined that those changes would be for the better. Though my experience was short, and not without struggle, I left Europe calling it home. I went into academic year 2016-2017 armed with everything I learned about art history and global culture, and couldn’t be happier with my decision to refocus my major. After graduation, I hope to further this experience by turning it into a career in International Education. As for going into 2017-2018, I’m honored to call myself an AIFS Ambassador, and cannot wait to share my experience with others in a way that inspires them to step out of their own comfort zones and take the fantastic leap into Study Abroad!

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2016-2017

A I F S ambassador Anthony Stewart
  • Anthony Stewart
  • Howard University
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Spring 2016

I am Anthony Stewart, a junior at Howard University from Atlanta, GA. I am a pre-law student with an affinity for travelling and learning languages. During spring 2016 semester, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was able to improve my Spanish, meet amazing people from across the world, and go on amazing adventures. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I hope others can take advantage of it as well. I my spare time you can find me writing, running, or excessively watching films of all genres from all over the world.

A I F S ambassador Taylor Weigel
  • Taylor Weigel
  • Drake University
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Spring 2016

Hola! My name is Taylor Weigel and I am in my third year at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. I study international relations, Spanish, and rhetoric, media, and social change. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, I am a huge Badgers and Packers fan (sorry Drake Bulldogs!). I play Ultimate Frisbee at my University and I was even lucky enough to play with a team in Buenos Aires – international tournaments are so awesome! I have two dogs, Spike and Bleu, and they are my world. Though it was hard to leave the little cuties behind for five months, studying abroad was more than worth it, and I already want to go back to Argentina. I met so many amazing people, improved my Spanish, became more confident in myself, and ate a LOT of empanadas while abroad. I can’t wait for my next adventure, and I want to help you figure out yours!

A I F S ambassador Madi Hutchinson
  • Madi Hutchinson
  • Berea College
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2016

Hi! I’m Madi. I am a junior psychology major, biology and chemistry minor, at Berea College in Kentucky. AIFS gave me the opportunity to study abroad in Perth, Australia, where I was able to travel and explore the Great Australian Outback and other iconic areas of Oz (Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef). While abroad, I took classes that would transfer back as general requirements and even one class for my major to stay on track for graduation. After studying abroad, I have been amazed at what I have learned from the Australian society and how different, yet so similar it is to America. Being abroad has made me want to continue traveling, and I even hope to return back to Australia after graduation.

A I F S ambassador Maggie Mae Whittemore
  • Maggie Mae Whittemore
  • St. Michael’s College
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2016

Hey there! My name is Maggie Mae Whittemore and I am a senior at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. I studied abroad at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, during spring semester. I am a media studies, digital arts and journalism major with a theater minor and was able to study both of those subjects while abroad. On campus, I am part of the water polo team, drama club and photography club. I learned so much from my time overseas and now see myself as a more independent, confident and curious person and traveler. I also gained the skills of being able to slow down and take in everything around me and to live life in the moment. I LOVE the beach and got to surf, snorkel in Ningaloo reef and paddle-board as much as I wanted while living near the ocean in Australia. I cannot wait to use my new-found travel techniques to be able to fulfill my lifelong dream of being able to step foot on every continent. I am super excited to be able to share my study abroad experiences with everyone and look forward to working with AIFS as an Alumni Ambassador.

A I F S ambassador Rachel Knowles
  • Rachel Knowles
  • Texas Woman's University
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Summer 2016

My name is Rachel Knowles. I am a senior at Texas Woman’s University majoring in psychology. I spent an amazing short Summer semester in Salzburg, Austria. There was beauty around every corner! Along with the additional excursions, I didn’t want the semester to end. I was glad to have the opportunity, as a non-traditional student, to experience something like this. I met some of the most amazing people and created a strong bond with many members of my group. I will never forget the time spent learning about Austrian culture as well as learning German. It proved to be very beneficial in some instances. I will never forget this experience. It was completely life changing. I would do it all over again if I could and would encourage anyone with the given opportunity to do so as well! Auf Wiedersehen!

A I F S ambassador Hannah Barner
  • Hannah Barner
  • Duquesne University
  • Argentina, Buenos Aires
  • Spring 2015

Hi! My name is Hannah Barner and I am a senior at Duquesne University where I am pursuing a degree in international relations and integrated marketing communications. In the spring of my sophomore year I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina where I lived and studied for four months. Whether I was spending the afternoon in a cafe, listening to my host dad tell stories, or traveling across South America with friends, my time abroad was both the most rewarding and biggest learning experience I have ever had. Studying abroad helped me to improve my Spanish, learn a new culture, get over the fear of flying alone, and most importantly helped me to understand who I am and what I want to do in life. I am so excited to be an AIFS Alumni Ambassador so I can share my experiences and encourage others to travel and learn more about the world we all share. In the future I intend to get amongst it and enjoy the moment no matter where life takes me, although I hope life takes me back to Argentina!

A I F S ambassador Emily Eraca
  • Emily Eraca
  • Siena College
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Fall 2015

Hola! My name is Emily Eraca and I am a senior at Siena College in Albany, New York. I will graduate in the spring with a BA degree in sociology while also having a double minor in management and marketing. I was born and raised in a small town in New York called Beacon. I am a very active person and I love getting involved on my campus especially in volunteering programs. I love to swim, golf, and go on as many adventures as possible. My passion for adventures led me to choosing to study abroad in Costa Rica! I studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica during my fall semester of my junior year at Veritas University. I loved every second of it. Every day was a different adventure from exploring the city, to zip lining, to surfing, to swimming in waterfalls or just taking in all of the beauty of Costa Rica. I love the beach and every chance I got I was exploring a new one. My New York life is always very busy and that is the way that I liked it. However, Costa Rica taught me to slow down and enjoy the beauty of life. I have now applied that to my everyday living and it has helped me shape my career and life goals. I plan to go back to Costa Rica very soon. I believe that all college students should study abroad because the experiences and life lessons gained can only be found when stepping outside of your comfort zone and experiencing a whole new world. I am excited to be an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and help other college students find the country that best fits them! Pura Vida!

A I F S ambassador Katie Romano
  • Katie Romano
  • Augustana University
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2016

Hola! A proud Colorado native, I am pursing a major in biology (with minors in Spanish and psychology) from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As if my transplant into the Midwest wasn’t enough of a culture shock, Greece, England, India, Germany, and a semester at Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica have added countless adventures and applications to my education. Study abroad has served as the ultimate opportunity to spring myself from the landlocked states that I call home and has opened my perspective to new cultures, new languages, and (most importantly) new foods! When I am not planning my next trip abroad, I enjoy backpacking, hammocking beneath the stars, and country line dancing with friends.

A I F S ambassador Kendall Wright
  • Kendall Wright
  • Stonehill College
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2016

Hi! My name is Kendall Wright and I am from Marin County, California. I am currently a senior at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and I am double majoring in psychology and criminology. I love anything involving the outdoors including hiking, going to the beach, and walking my dog Wookie. Studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, this past semester was unforgettable. I met amazing lifelong friends, traveled to multiple countries and grew A LOT. I am so happy work as an Alumni Ambassador so I can turn back time and live vicariously through others who chose to travel abroad.

A I F S ambassador Emma Heth
  • Emma Heth
  • Bethel University
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2016

Ahoj! My name is Emma Heth and I am currently a junior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Thanks to my study abroad experience, I am a recently declared double major in communications and political science. I spent the second semester of my sophomore year, spring 2016, studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. Studying abroad in Prague was an amazing, unforgettable experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I can’t wait to go back as soon as possible for another trdelnik! I encourage everyone to study abroad somewhere before graduation, you definitely won’t regret it!

A I F S ambassador Karen Kovalewski
  • Karen Kovalewski
  • Adelphi University
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2016

Dobry den! I’m Karyn, a junior nursing student at Adelphi University in Long Island, NY. Going from growing up in a small town south of Syracuse, to moving twenty minutes outside one of the world’s largest cities, my eyes opened to a whole new domain. With my new found sense of adventure, I wanted to get out and see as much of the world as I can, so in the spring of 2016 I studied in Prague, Czech Republic. Not only did I immerse myself in the amazing culture of my host country, but I was able to explore the cultures of ten other countries and twenty-four other cities. Traveling has become part of who I am, and I’m already planning my next adventure; India! Studying abroad has also made me more aware of my own culture, and encouraged me to explore further within the big, beautiful country we call home. As cliche as it may seem, my experiences in one short semester changed my life forever, as it created a way to see the world from another angle. Prague was just the beginning to my journey, and I can’t wait to see where the road takes me!

A I F S ambassador Melina George
  • Melina George
  • Miami University of Ohio
  • London, England
  • January Term 2016

Hi! My name is Melina George, a Pittsburgh, PA native (go Penguins!) and a junior at Miami University in Ohio! I am double majoring in both finance and supply chain management in hopes of working abroad once I graduate. I studied in London, England over the 2016 January term and it completely changed my life. Immersing myself in London’s way of life was by far the most amazing part of my experience. From over-eating at Borough Market to attending a football match at the famous Wembley Stadium, living in London for the month of January could not have been any more perfect. I met the most fun and amazing people on my trip. Even though traveling alone was concerning for me, making the decision to step outside of my comfort zone was definitely worth it! When I am not reminiscing about my travels abroad, I am either blogging on my personal travel, lifestyle and fashion blog, staying active with intramurals on campus, snuggling up on the couch with a good book, or binge watching my newest obsession on Netflix. I am so excited to be an Alumni Ambassador and be able to share all of my experiences, tips and tricks about studying abroad! Cheers!

A I F S ambassador Jacob Royce
  • Jacob Royce
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

My name is Jacob Royce and I am a senior studying international relations and psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. During the fall semester of 2015 I studied abroad in London, UK. During this time I also had the opportunity to travel to several other European countries including France, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. The friendships and events that I experienced while abroad are like no other. I met individuals from all around the world and am still close with several. As much as I enjoyed the culture and wonderfully diverse people, the courses that I took also proved to be one of a kind. I toured Parliament and all of London for class credit, and that is something you can’t find anywhere else. Studying abroad not only changed me for the better, but opened up so many doors to many wonderful career options for the future.

A I F S ambassador Madeleine Tiscareno
  • Madeleine Tiscareno
  • Gonzaga University
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

Hi! I am a senior at Gonzaga University in Washington, where I am majoring in business administration with concentrations in finance and MIS. I am also minoring in environmental studies. I studied abroad the fall semester of my junior year, where I completed an internship for credit in London, UK. Being abroad allowed me to experience a new city and meet some amazing people. Working in London was out of my comfort zone, but made me more confident in myself and my abilities. I am excited to work with AIFS as an ambassador to promote global education in my community and help my peers find new experiences abroad.

A I F S ambassador Emma Whiting
  • Emma Whiting
  • University of Arkansas
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

Hello! My name is Emma Whiting and I am a senior at the University of Arkansas (originally born and raised in St.Louis, MO). I am pursuing a major in marketing and a minor in business management. I recently studied abroad in London, England, for my previous fall semester and found my passion for traveling. During my time abroad, I was constantly learning, exploring, and meeting new people (the delicious food was a bonus). My experience abroad not only helped me get out of my comfort zone, but it also opened my eyes to so many new opportunities for my future career. I hope to share my experiences from studying abroad with other students and look forward to working with AIFS as an Alumni Ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Celeste Gregorio
  • Celeste Gregorio
  • California Lutheran University
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

Hi! My name is Celeste Gregorio and I am a senior at California Lutheran University with a major in psychology. I had the most incredible four months of my life while studying abroad during the fall 2015 semester in London, England. Having never been out of the country or even away from home for a long period of time, I was extremely nervous. Luckily, AIFS was very welcoming and helped make the process of studying abroad easier. I was able to travel to other countries, meet some amazing new friends, and learn life lessons along the way. This experience made me a more independent and confident person with a passion for traveling. I hope to encourage other students to step out of their comfort zone and experience life abroad. It is an opportunity that you will cherish forever!

A I F S ambassador Katie Kreckler
  • Katie Kreckler
  • University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where I am majoring in public relations with a minor in international business. In fall 2015 I was lucky enough to spend a semester abroad in London, England. I immediately fell in love with the city, culture, and the people. Through my studies I learned how to be a more independent, patient and confident individual. Studying abroad has truly changed me for the better and that’s why I became an AIFS alumni ambassador. I want to be able share my amazing life changing experience with others in hope that they too will realize how rewarding it is to step out of your comfort zone and see how much this beautiful world has to offer. Cheers!

A I F S ambassador Jourdan-Marie Mills
  • Jourdan-Marie Mills
  • Chaminade University of Honolulu
  • London, England
  • Fall 2015

Aloha! My name is Jourdan and I’m a senior at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Hawaii majoring in psychology. I was fortunate enough to study in London for a semester and it was the best time of my life. While in London I attended events such as The British Fashion Awards and the BBC Music Awards along with many more. I made sure to make my time abroad one for the books. I spent my fall break in Italy where I visited five different cities and spent it with awesome people. During my time abroad, I made some of the best memories with the most amazing people that I will cherish for a lifetime. My time abroad helped me get a global perspective and experience amazing cultures. I hope to return to London one day as it is truly the city that stole my heart. Studying abroad really did change my life for the better and I would encourage everyone to do it. I’m excited to be working with AIFS as an Ambassador and can’t wait to share my experience with you! Cheers!

A I F S ambassador Danielle Pantano
  • Danielle Pantano
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2016

Hey guys! My name is Danielle and I am originally from Rochester, NY. I am starting my junior year at Florida Atlantic University, majoring in marketing and advertising. After graduation, I hope to return to London for either work or grad school. When I am not at school or work, you can find me tossing the lacrosse ball around, camera in hand, or cuddled up with a good book/my journal. My mind turned to travel at a young age. My summer job hires loads of international staff, mostly from England, to work in Miami, Florida for a summer. In being around all of them and hearing all their stories of travel and home life, I knew that I wanted to experience life across the pond for myself. I am so glad that I took the leap and studied abroad in London, England. Everything they tell you about travel and study abroad is truer than I can even begin to tell you. While abroad, I made lasting friendships and learned a lot about myself and the world around me. I will forever have study abroad to thank for that. If there is any advice that I could hope to give, it would be to take the leap and study abroad. It is an experience that you will remember for a lifetime.

A I F S ambassador Sidney Cutter
  • Sidney Cutter
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Grenoble , France
  • Summer 2015

Bonjour, mes amis! I am a junior first-generation student at the University of South Carolina majoring in international studies and French and minoring in linguistics. As an international studies major, I knew that studying abroad would be a personal requirement for me. For my first study abroad experience I decided to study in the beautiful city of Grenoble, France. My experiences in Grenoble opened me up to different cultures and people. After my return, it helped open doors to even more opportunities both on my campus and internationally. Going abroad as a student is a completely unique experience from any other kind of travel that everyone should try!

A I F S ambassador Allison Guerra
  • Allison Guerra
  • Towson University
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2015

Salut! My name is Allison Guerra and I am currently a senior at Towson University. I am a double major in international studies and economics with a minor in French. Spring semester my sophomore year I decided to study abroad in Grenoble, France, one of the best decisions of my life. I travelled through Europe and befriended people from all over the world including France, China, South Korea, and Armenia. However, my fellow AIFS study abroaders become some of my closest friends whom I stay in contact with to this day. Immersing myself in the French culture that I only read and learned about at school solidified my passion for the people and country. I cannot wait to go back!

A I F S ambassador Ian Schwenke
  • Ian Schwenke
  • Saint Mary’s College of Maryland
  • Cannes, France
  • Fall 2015

Bonjour a tous! My name is Ian and I am going to be a senior at Saint Mary’s College of Maryland this upcoming year, to which I have the honor of also being an AIFS Alumni Ambassador! I currently plan to double major in both French cultural studies and international public policy. While I have been fortunate enough to spend many years of my life abroad already with my family, the time I spend in Cannes on the beautiful Cote d’Azur, France, was most fulfilling time I have ever spent overseas. I made more friends and saw more sights than I could have dreamed of, alongside improving my French greatly and re-finding my love for travel. I am now becoming certified to teach English to foreigners (TEFL) with the hope of joining the Peace Corps after college to continue my journey. But for now, I cannot wait to help spread the word to fellow students about the amazing study abroad opportunities that our school, and especially AIFS, provide! Leave your comfort zone, the world is waiting.

A I F S ambassador Angelena Castro
  • Angelena Castro
  • North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Summer 2015

Halo! My name is Angelena Castro. I am a student at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC. My major is journalism mass communications. I am also pursuing a Global Studies Certificate through the university’s Office of International Programs. On campus, I work in radio station WNAA 90.1 and host a radio show called the “Traffic Jam”. I’m also a member of the WNAA Street Team, where I serve as emcee for station sponsored events in the city of Greensboro. I love to get the crowd motivated and dancing in the street. During the summer of 2015, I had the awesome opportunity to study at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. There, I studied Interreligious Studies in Germany and The Berlin Wall. The classes were filled with opportunities to visit places and interview people that actually were a part of the history that I had only read about until I studied abroad. The friends that I made during the summer of 2015 are still my friends today. Together we also explored London, England and Prague, Czech Republic. In the quietness of the night, I often wish that I could transport myself back to the summer of 2015 and the adventures that we had in Berlin.

A I F S ambassador Darby Joyce
  • Darby Joyce
  • Salisbury University
  • Berlin , Germany
  • January-Term 2016

Hello! My name is Darby Joyce, and I’m currently living in Columbia, Maryland. I am a junior at Salisbury University on Maryland’s eastern shore, where I study international relations with a minor in psychology. I developed a love of travel at a very young age, while I was living in Australia, and I often catch myself daydreaming about all the places in the world I’d like to see. I studied with AIFS in Berlin, Germany, during the winter of 2016, where I learned so much from both the course I took at Humboldt University and the adventures I experienced in the city itself. The time I spent in Germany helped me learn to love being in unusual situations, from trying to break the language barrier to seeing sites I had only ever known from pictures, and I talk about my adventures there fondly to anybody who asks. I’m looking forward to working as an ambassador for AIFS, and getting in touch with other students who are ready to see the world! I can’t wait to hear from you and answer your questions!

A I F S ambassador Madison Hornick
  • Madison Hornick
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Athens, Greece
  • Fall 2015

Yasas! My name is Madison Hornick and I am currently a senior English writing major at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Growing up, I always loved hearing stories about ancient Greek goddesses and gods, tragic heroes, and fantastical hands. This early fascination is one of the many factors that led me to study abroad in Athens, Greece for a magical semester. Walking the cobblestone streets to the Acropolis, sitting on the rock where the Apostle Paul taught so many years ago, literally experiencing the history that most people only ever see in text books or through Googled pictures…. it’s an indescribable sensation that’s difficult to sum in a simple biography paragraph. The best I can put it is that studying abroad opened my eyes to so much of the world in so many different ways, and I’m excited to help others in their search of similar experiences! Whether that’s island-hopping, climbing mountains, strolling through Vienna Christmas markets, or haggling over the price of a tomato in a street market, there’s an adventure out there for anyone willing to leave the familiar behind! Fair warning however, I almost guarantee that you will get a case of the deadly travel bug –it’s fairly infections and very hard to get rid of (though honestly I haven’t been trying that hard).

A I F S ambassador Katarina Lage
  • Katarina Lage
  • Hawai’i Pacific University
  • Athens, Greece
  • Spring 2014

My name is Katarina, but most people call me Katt. I am a concurrent student at Hawai’i Pacific University finishing my undergraduate degree in international studies with minors in diplomacy and military studies and history; while starting my Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and Military Studies. I consider myself a modern day nomad that is chasing after my gypsy heart. Since studying abroad in the home of my ancestors, Athens, Greece I have been lucky enough to study abroad two additional times in Quito, Ecuador and Thailand. Along with these three locations I have traveled to thirteen unique countries and find myself always drawn to new locations and societies. Travel is the best way to learn and experience everything the world has to offer and that is why I have constantly pushed past borders to expand my knowledge of this one planet we all call home. I am a strong advocate for studying abroad and believe that nothing else can prepare you better to be a global citizen.

A I F S ambassador Allison Waymire
  • Allison Waymire
  • Bethany College
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Spring 2016

I am a junior at Bethany College with a biology major and psychology minor. I studied abroad in the spring of 2016 on the Emerald Isle in Limerick, Ireland. I enjoyed getting to experience and become integrated into a new culture. While there I was able to serve on the committee for the International Society. This allowed me to connect with people from all over the world. I kept a journal during my time abroad so that I can now look back and remember all the great adventures I had. My weekends were spent either traveling all around Ireland or to different parts of Europe. Studying abroad made me face some of my fears head-on which was scary, but it made for some great learning experiences.

A I F S ambassador Nicole Carrabba
  • Nicole Carrabba
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2015

Ciao! My name is Nicole Carrabba, and I am a senior public health, pre-med major at the University of Texas at Austin. I love traveling (duh), volunteering, hiking, sports, and art. I studied abroad in the spring of 2015 in Florence, Italy. It was one of the best of decisions of my life! Every single day was a new adventure, whether it be making a new Italian friend, finding secret bakeries, exploring a new country, or trying a new legendary Italian dish. While in Florence, I was also able to give back to the community by volunteering at a kindergarten as well. The challenges and immersion into a new culture broadened my perspective and outlook on life. Traveling helps you see the world from other people’s eyes. As an ambassador, I hope to help others see that doing something outside of your comfort zone like studying abroad is something that all college students should do!

A I F S ambassador Justine Drewel
  • Justine Drewel
  • University of Nebraska at Lincoln
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2016

Ciao! I am a junior at University of Nebraska at Lincoln. At UNL I am working on completing my marketing degree. I grew up moving around as a kid, which has made me always want to be on the move and exploring new places. Last spring, I spent the semester and studying and exploring in Rome, Italy. It was a truly incredible time traveling, getting lost a fair share of times (sorry mom), so much food, and being surrounded by so many different cultures. The semester I spent in Europe was more beneficial than I could have ever imagined, the experience, friends, memories, and independence will always be something I remember. I can’t wait to share my stories with others that AIFS helped me create as an AIFS Ambassador this next year.

A I F S ambassador Haley Taylor
  • Haley Taylor
  • University of Alabama
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2015

Ciao! My name is Haley Taylor, a rising senior originally from Wisconsin, currently studying chemistry at the University of Alabama and planning on going to physician assistant school. In my free time, you can find me reading any kind of book, watching Netflix documentaries, hiking, cheering on the Crimson Tide in football and googling flights around the world, in hopes of another spontaneous trip. In the spring of 2015, I was fortunate to study in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. I gained so much more than I ever would have imagined while studying abroad for a semester: new friends, new experiences and abundant gelato. This experience helped me develop my independence and sense of self and I’m already planning my next trip back to Florence.

A I F S ambassador Gina Tonno
  • Gina Tonno
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2016

Ciao ragazzi! My name is Gina Tonno and I am going into my senior year at the University of Rhode Island, where I major in marketing and communication studies, and also study voice performance. Last semester (spring 2016) I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to not only discover my ancestry, but to study abroad in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Through this life changing experience I was able to fully immerse myself in Italian culture, step way beyond my comfort zone, and truly discover everything the world has to offer. I met so many incredible people who contributed greatly to my time abroad, such as my cousin who lives in Italy. I got to travel throughout Europe and experience a different breath-taking country almost every weekend, but by the end of the trip I was ready to go back to Florence because it became my home. Florence will always have a part of my heart and I am grateful for that. Living and studying abroad has shaped who I have become in so many ways. I am very excited to work with AIFS as an ambassador to promote the study abroad experience and the importance of global education. While I am still adjusting to life back home and sincerely missing my life in Florence, I hope through sharing my memories and experiences with others that I can inspire others in my community to follow their dreams like I followed mine. Studying abroad definitely gave me a thirst for wanderlust and now I am extremely addicted to travel and discovering new places! In addition to my desire for travel, I am very passionate about music. I have been singing for about eight years and am still involved as much as I can be at school. I study classical and opera, but also write my own songs and make covers from time to time. One of my absolute favorite things about being abroad was the music was so alive. Europe was rich with music from live shows to street performers! Studying abroad provides something amazing for everyone! I hope that someday I can return to Florence, but for now I am going to treasure my memories and help someone else have an experience they can hold close in their heart for the rest of their life!

A I F S ambassador Erin Renslow
  • Erin Renslow
  • Ohio University
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2016

Ciao! My name is Erin Renslow and I am a senior at Ohio University. I am a retail merchandising and fashion product development and customer service double major with a minor in business. I just spent the most incredible few months in Florence, Italy, and can easily say it was the best experience of my life. I had the opportunity to volunteer abroad in addition to studying and I had the good fortune of becoming a tour guide at Santa Marie del Fiore, more commonly referred to as the Duomo. My semester abroad has opened my eyes to how truly marvelous the world is and how much there is to learn and see. I ended up seeing nine different countries abroad and am excited for the adventures to continue as I backpack across Europe with my family next summer. I look forward to sharing my experience with others and helping students find their own paths to adventure.

A I F S ambassador Caity Cobb
  • Caity Cobb
  • California State Polytechnic, Pomona
  • Florence, Italy and European Art & Architecture Travelling Program
  • January-Term 2014 and Summer 2015

Hello! I am an art history major at California State Polytechnic, Pomona. Having traveled to Florence, Italy in 2014, and with a multi-country class in 2015, I learned more than I ever could have anticipated. Studying in a classroom is one thing, but being able to go visit the art and sites I’ve learned about was life changing. I made life-long friends from both of my adventures abroad, and we still laugh and say "Remember when...?" Going abroad changes how you see the world; studying abroad changes how you understand it.

A I F S ambassador Chrissy Dustman
  • Chrissy Dustman
  • Rowan University
  • Ireland, Maynooth
  • Summer 2015

Hi everyone! My name is Chrissy and I am a senior English literature and secondary education major at Rowan University. In the summer of 2015, I left New Jersey and traveled to the small town of Maynooth, Ireland where I studied anthropology and modern Irish literature. Basically, I found myself studying at an Irish Hogwarts. It was awesome. Whether it was walking counterclockwise around castles, driving through the endless green countryside, trying to make sense of Gaelic, or eating a ton of potatoes (So. Many. Potatoes.), every moment of my experience was deeply lived. Every weekend was spent in a different part of the Emerald Isle. I even spent some time wandering London, England and the most action-packed (mostly eating gelato) 36 hours in Barcelona, Spain. My love of exploring has become a passion. It’s an awfully big world out there and I’m going to experience it!

A I F S ambassador Lisa Sheehan
  • Lisa Sheehan
  • University of Dayton
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Spring 2016

Hola! My name is Lisa and I am a junior at the University of Dayton in Ohio. I am studying foreign language education along with Spanish and teaching English to speakers of other languages. I had the amazing opportunity of living and studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain, for my spring 2016 semester. Every day I experienced something new and exciting! Whether I was exploring the streets of Salamanca, visiting a new city, or spending time with my host family, I was always learning something new about the beautiful Spanish language and culture!

A I F S ambassador Isabel Velásquez
  • Isabel Velásquez
  • Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2016

Hola Chicos! My name is Isabel and I’m a senior at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. I am studying sociology with a minor in criminology. During the spring of 2016 I had the opportunity to study in Granada, Spain, which I can proudly call my second home. The entire experience was amazing. From making new friends to traveling on the weekends, studying abroad was the best decision I could have made. Don’t be afraid to travel--as long as you are having fun, know you are doing it right. Also remember that alumni are always here to help you and show you how amazing studying abroad can be.

A I F S ambassador Rachel De Masi
  • Rachel De Masi
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Granada, Spain
  • Fall 2015

¡Hola! I’m Rachel and I’m a senior at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I’m studying political science with a concentration in international studies and I have my minor in Spanish. I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I love to go to new places, be outdoors, go to concerts, hike, and cook. I studied in Granada, Spain in the fall of 2015. I absolutely fell in love with Granada and I met some amazing, life-long friends during my time there. I wish I could go back every day. I really concentrated on improving my Spanish speaking skills while I was there and I learned more than I have in all my years of high school and college. I took advantage of my time in Europe and I visited London, Paris, Berlin, Prague and Amsterdam. The study-abroad experience completely changed my life and I want to aid other students with their journey abroad because it is an amazing opportunity!

A I F S ambassador Karlie Malinchok
  • Karlie Malinchok
  • West Chester University, Pennsylvania
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2016

My name is Karlie Malinchok and I am a senior business management major at West Chester University, Pennsylvania. In my second semester of junior year I studied in the beautiful Barcelona, Spain. My time abroad was filled with amazing adventures, incredible people, and immense growth. My life has been changed by going out into the world and experiencing a new culture. I always think back to days starting at the top of a mountain and ending by the beach with a pitcher of sangria to share with my friends! When I finished studying, I got the opportunity to be an au pair for a family that lives outside of Barcelona. In my 6 months abroad, I was able to experience living on my own and with a family that has a completely different culture than my own. I am so excited to be working with AIFS and encouraging other students to go out into the world and have new, eye opening experiences and see how it changes them like how it changed me!

A I F S ambassador Aimee Nguyen
  • Aimee Nguyen
  • Roosevelt University
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2015

Hola! My name is Aimee and I’m a senior studying international business and marketing at Roosevelt University. My first time going abroad was when I was six months old and I’ve been going every year since. I absolutely love traveling and I’m super passionate about it. Before even applying to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad. My junior year my first semester I finally got to study abroad with AIFS in Barcelona and it was unforgettable. I met so many people from across the world and have met some of my closest friends. I had great classes and ate some amazing food! When I studied abroad in Barcelona, it was super easy for me to travel to other countries. I was able to go to 11 other countries. I had an amazing time and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2015-2016

A I F S ambassador Marrian Zhou
  • Marrian Zhou
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • Rome - Italy, London - England
  • Fall 2014 Spring 2015

My name is Marrian Zhou and I’m currently a senior at California State University, Los Angeles. I have spent an adventurous semester in Rome, Italy, and a very beneficial semester in London, U.K. The friends I have made along the way and the memory we have shared together have become my most important treasure. Even now I often dream about drinking wine and share fresh baked pastry with my buddies in front of the Pantheon, or meeting a friend from the neighbor college in a lovely little tea room as the London rain sprinkles outside. Everything in this studying abroad experience helps me to interact with distinctive cultures and even more, it provides me a profound understanding of who I am in this world. Salute! (or) Cheers, mate!

A I F S ambassador Molly Davies
  • Molly Davies
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Fall 2014

Hola! My name is Molly Davies and I am a senior International Development major with a minor in Spanish at Loyola University of New Orleans. I am originally from Annapolis Maryland but decided to go to New Orleans to experience a new city and different culture. I traveled to Buenos Aires the summer after my sophomore year and into the fall semester of my junior year. It was experience of constant learning, whether it was a new Spanish slang word, new food, or a new favorite part of the city. Traveling to Argentina, I learned a lot about myself and fell in love with the Latino culture while I was at it. It confirmed my curiosity in studying International Development and I can't wait to be able to travel more!

A I F S ambassador Conor Jordan
  • Conor Jordan
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2014

I am a senior at St Mary’s College of Maryland where I’m a history major with an education minor. I am also a captain on the varsity lacrosse. Last fall I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria where I stayed with a host family. I have always loved to travel with my family, but being abroad allowed me to experience travel on my own and with the friends that I met abroad. Salzburg was a central location and it allowed me to make the most of my experience as I travelled to 11 wonderful countries. While I was abroad I spent more time on the train than I could ever hope to remember, but it gave me the best way to see the countries I was travelling in. As an Alumni Ambassador I hope I can share my experiences to help encourage more people to go out and experience more of the amazing world we live in!

A I F S ambassador Taylor Ollari
  • Taylor Ollari
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall and Spring 2014-2015

Hi! My name is Taylor and I am a junior at the University of Rhode Island, where I am majoring in History and also study German language. I was so blessed to study in beautiful Salzburg, Austria for the 2014-2015 full academic year. My experience in Salzburg is hard to put into only few sentences, but ultimately the memories and friendships I made abroad will stay with me forever. Living and studying abroad made me a better person and I am so excited to be working with AIFS as an ambassador to promote global education in my community. Because I lived and studied abroad for two semesters, I have a very unique perspective on life abroad and am so excited to share my experience in the hopes that I can inspire other students to get out of their comfort zones and experience the world. Besides history and languages, my interests also include international relations, art, and naturally traveling! I hope someday I can return to work and live abroad, but for now when I am not planning and dreaming up my next travel plans you can find me at the beach.

"Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love." ~ Rumi

A I F S ambassador Alba Quezada
  • Alba Quezada
  • Vanguard University of Southern California
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2014

Hey there! I am a San Diego native and currently a senior at Vanguard University of Southern California. In the fall of 2014 I took a leap over the Atlantic to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria. I fell in love with the beauty all around me and met a cool group of people to experience it with. Immersing myself in a new culture was an incredible experience that really opened my eyes to little things I had never been exposed to and allowed me grow. Every day was a new adventure. With camera in hand to the nine countries visited during my semester, I was able to freeze memories I will remember forever. Almost a year ago of having boarded my plane into the greatest semester of all, I can say that I left a piece of my heart in the little town of Salzburg, Austria.

A I F S ambassador Griffin Uthe
  • Griffin Uthe
  • The University of Alabama
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Spring 2015

Grüß Gott! My name is Griffin Uthe and I am a junior aerospace engineering major at the University of Alabama, although I am from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In spring of 2015 I spent the semester studying in Salzburg, Austria, a city and country I immediately fell in love with. While there, I learned German, climbed mountains, learned to ski in the Alps, and had the opportunity to travel to several countries in Central and Eastern Europe. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to study abroad, and hope to help others do so as well. In my free time I enjoy running, traveling, and volunteering around campus.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~ Lao Tzu

A I F S ambassador Mollie Wheeler
  • Mollie Wheeler
  • Drake University
  • Viña del Mar, Chile
  • Spring 2014

My name is Mollie Ann Wheeler, and I was born and raised in Des Moines, IA. I will be a senior this year at Drake University, also located in Des Moines, studying International Business, Marketing, and Spanish. I love dogs, soccer, and the beach. I don't know how to ride a bike (yet), chocolate is kind of my thing, and I am currently in recovery from a coffee addiction. I studied abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile, last year and loved every second of it. I met some amazing people and learned a ton about both myself and the world around me. Can't wait for my next adventure!

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A I F S ambassador Mackenzie Hudson
  • Mackenzie Hudson
  • Saint Michael's College
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2015

Hi! My name is Mackenzie Hudson and I am a senior at Saint Michael's College in Vermont but studied abroad at Veritas University in Costa Rica during the spring semester! I can't believe this is my last year but studying abroad made my time fly by even faster. I will graduate with a major in biology and in Spanish while being a part of the pre-health program and a Division II athlete for the St. Mike's Field Hockey team. I've always been busy but that's how I like things. Living in Costa Rica was an unforgettable experience and taught me to slow down to enjoy and appreciate life even more. Becoming part of my host family was extremely rewarding and I am already planning on going back to visit. I am a complete beach bum, love the ocean and all things that have to do with the ocean like paddle-boarding and kayaking. Field hockey is also a very large part of my life. My study abroad experience left me with a thirst to travel more, learn more languages, and continue to learn more about cultures all around the world. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to study abroad and get out of their comfort zone. I hope to share my experiences from studying abroad and look forward to working with AIFS as an Alumni Ambassador!

A I F S ambassador Laura Richert
  • Laura Richert
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Fall 2014

Ahoj! My name is Laura Richert and I'm a Buffalo, NY native currently in my senior year at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. I will be graduating next spring with a BA in Criminology and a minor in Psychology. Choosing to study abroad was by far the best decision I could have made. From castles and horse drawn carriages to the beautiful red rooftops, living in Prague was about as close to a fairy tale as one can get. Not only did I learn about Czech culture and the language, but I made some great friends, both American and European. One of my favorite parts about being abroad was the ability to travel just about anywhere. I was in a new city nearly every weekend and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. When I'm not reminiscing on my past (and future) travels and adventures I'm most likely at the gym, reading a book, or obsessing over any and all dogs.

"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." ~ Gustave Flaubert

A I F S ambassador Suzanne Rismiller
  • Suzanne Rismiller
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2015

Hey ya’ll! My name is Suzanne and I’m from Texas (in case you couldn’t tell). I’m a senior pursuing a major in International Relations with a minor in business and French at the University of Texas at Austin. On the weekends you can find me supporting my UT sports teams, attempting to hike, or spending time with my cat Greta or my two little sisters (Greta preferably). I am also a proud Texas Kappa and a traveling addict (I mean I’m writing this right now on a cruise traveling to Russia, how cool is that?!). I have spent the last five months studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic and proudly consider myself a study abroad enthusiast; I loved it SO MUCH. I don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you exactly how incredible it was, but I will tell you something. You can expect to learn a lot, eat a lot (YUM Czech goulash), meet a lot of great people, and have the TIME OF YOUR LIFE. Convinced?

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory." ~ Dr. Seuss

A I F S ambassador Elissa Wollins
  • Elissa Wollins
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2015

Dobrý den! My name is Elissa Wollins and I am a senior at the University of Pittsburgh (originally from Rockville, MD) majoring in accounting. I spent an incredible semester in Prague, Czech Republic during the spring 2015 semester. Studying abroad forced me to get out of my comfort zone, allowed me to meet people from all over the world, and encouraged me to try things I would have never considered before. I wrote a study abroad blog during my trip which allowed me to reflect on my experience and re-live my amazing trip. If you study abroad, you’ll come home with a new outlook on life, a few more pairs of shoes, and endless stories about castles, cliff-diving, and what happened on the night tram. I hope to travel more once I graduate and can’t wait for my next adventure!

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." ~ Neale Donald Walsch

A I F S ambassador Taylor Armstrong
  • Taylor Armstrong
  • University of South Carolina
  • London, England
  • Spring 2015

Hello! I am a senior Management and Marketing major at the University of South Carolina. Last spring I decided to take my education to Europe where I studied in London (despite my minor in Spanish) to pursue my obsession with all things British. During my time abroad I was exposed to unique opportunities that fueled and broadened my passions for travel, the bridal industry and music. Since my return home I have been constantly exploring ways to return to the city that has taken over my life and has given me lasting memories, learning experiences and friendships. I look forward to serving as an Alumni Ambassador for the organization that opened up the world to me and offered me the experience of a lifetime!

A I F S ambassador Marissa Berggrun
  • Marissa Berggrun
  • Ohio State University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2015

Hi everyone! My name is Marissa Berggrun and I am an upcoming senior studying Strategic Communication and business and The Ohio State University. I am from Cleveland, Ohio and before studying abroad I had never been to Europe. This past semester, Spring '15 I was able to study and explore in the most amazing place, London, England. I had the most incredible experience and hands down the best four months of my life thus far. Traveling the world, tasting foods from all different cultures and making lifelong friendships are just a few of my favorite memories from my trip. I am already planning on going back to Europe next May and will without a doubt go back to London. It has become my favorite city and would love to potentially live there again one day. I have learned so much about myself from studying abroad and I truly think that it's an opportunity that every student should experience.

A I F S ambassador Michelle Henning
  • Michelle Henning
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • London, England
  • Summer 2014

Hello my name is Michelle Henning. I'm currently a senior communication studies major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Born and raised in Lincoln, NE makes me a big Nebraska fan. The summer of 2014, I got the incredible opportunity to study abroad in London for three weeks. It was the most rewarding experience of my life. Then in the spring of 2015, I took at semester long class on international communication and at the end, I had another great opportunity to travel to London for two more weeks. From these experiences, I have gained an international network for my future career as well as lifelong friends. I am currently an intern at my university's study abroad office. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my sorority sisters, cooking, and taking long walks. I am excited to return to London in the future and do more exploring throughout Europe.

A I F S ambassador Barry Rothstein
  • Barry Rothstein
  • University of St. Thomas
  • London, England
  • Fall 2014

My name is Barry Rothstein, and I am a senior accounting major at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. In the fall of 2014 I studied abroad in London, England. As a kid I had a great passion for Harry Potter and I dreamt about traveling to England. I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to study abroad because the places I traveled, and the people I met truly changed my life. I became an AIFS Alumni Ambassador to share my experiences with other students who are thinking about studying abroad. I've learned that traveling opens you up to a new world of people, places and ideas. I encourage anybody thinking about studying abroad to just do it, because studying abroad was the best decision I've ever made and I want to help others to make that same decision. Cheers!

"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

A I F S ambassador Savannah Bowen
  • Savannah Bowen
  • Howard University
  • Paris, France
  • Spring 2015

Salut! I'm Savannah, a senior, English major from New York. I had the privilege to study abroad in the most romantic city in the world--Paris. Along with many breakthroughs in my French language skills, during my studies I learned how to be a more confident individual, how to be more humble, and how to appreciate every moment for the beautiful learning experience that it is. I made lots of mistakes and embarrassed myself daily, but my trip was a refreshing journey of personal growth for which I am grateful. Now that I'm stateside, I hope to apply what I have learned to my life and also impart whatever wisdom I can to other study abroad candidates. When I'm not wrapped up in schoolwork, you can find me scrolling through the blogosphere, scribbling (not-so-great) poetry, or snuggling up with science fiction novels.

A I F S ambassador Pilar Martinez
  • Pilar Martinez
  • Seton Hall University
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2015

Hi all, My name is Pilar. I am a senior Marketing major with a minor in International Business studying French. I love exploring cultures and experiencing new things. With that being said, as I chose to study in France, my goal was to push myself out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I did not speak the language at the time, I did not know anyone else who was going, it was just me, and everything I would make of it with the resources I used and the help of AIFS to match me with my incredible host family. Traveling is my passion. In my short four months in Europe, I visited 12 countries and about 36 cities. It was the most incredible experience of my life and plenty of memories and international friends to continue reminding me of the great times shared. I am family orientated, enjoy community service, and love the outdoors. My bucket list continues to grow but I have plenty of places to go and things to do to occupy myself for the rest of my life of adventure.

"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return" ~ Leonardo da Vinci

A I F S ambassador Batol Radwan
  • Batol Radwan
  • Texas A and M University
  • Paris, France
  • Spring 2015

Howdy! My name is Batol Radwan and I'm from Houston, TX. I am a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in International Studies and minoring in French and Business. I plan on attending law school after and working with the United Nations after I graduate. My love for traveling and languages started at a very young age. I vowed to become fluent in French and Spanish when I was in 7th and have been working on that ever since! Studying abroad in Paris has been the greatest part of college so far! Being able to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, where everything about your everyday life is completely out of order, is such an eye-opening and life-rewarding experience. You learn about the different ways that people live and start to notice and appreciate the simpler, beautiful things in life. But you also realize just how inherently similar we all are as human beings, no matter where we come from. Living in Paris has allowed me to expand my horizons and step out of my comfort zone to realize how much greater the world is and how much there is still left to learn! I cannot wait to share my unique traveling experiences and visions with other students!

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~ Plato

A I F S ambassador Kara Sangree
  • Kara Sangree
  • Liberty University
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2015

Salut! My name is Kara and I am from Boca Raton, Florida. I am a junior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and I love everything about it. I studied abroad in the south of France, the gorgeous city of Grenoble during the spring 2015 semester. My time in France, regardless of my French background, was even more than I imagined. Being abroad is a rewarding experience that I would encourage everyone to take advantage of. Traveling is one of my favorite hobbies, as well as athletics, hiking and crafty projects.

"Be an imitator of Christ, in all you do." ~ Garth Sangree

A I F S ambassador Emily Cole
  • Emily Cole
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Summer 2014

Hey y'all! My name is Emily. I'm a senior English major and Art History minor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I hail from a small town which means I've always had a hankering for discovering bigger, more fascinating places. I spent the summer of 2014 in Berlin, Germany immersing myself in the culture, the language, and most importantly, the food. Being abroad opened my mind and led me to learn a lot about myself and the people around me. I miss that city every single day. When I'm not fantasizing about my next trip abroad you'll find me attending any and every concert in my area or at the nearest art museum. In addition to working as an Alumni Ambassador on campus, I'm also a member of the Art History Club and the Comedy Committee. I adore encouraging people to take adventurous risks and believe study abroad to be one of the best adventures of my life!

A I F S ambassador Nicole Hafkemeyer
  • Nicole Hafkemeyer
  • Bethel University
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Summer 2014

My Name is Nicole Hafkemeyer and I am an Animal Science with Operations Management minor at Missouri State University. I am originally from Springfield, Missouri. I have a pet cat and a pet pig. My cat's name is Ton Ton and my potbelly pig's name is Colonel (but he really only responds to “pigpig”) I am a Senior this year, and I am hoping to work my butt off to try and finish this year. I am hoping to end up being a zookeeper or some other career that deals largely with animal husbandry. I also have a dream of owning my own hobby farm that also doubles as a teaching farm. The end goal would be to have a facility that would allow anyone of any age either how to garden, how important farming is, and where their food comes from. I would also love to possible breed exotics and rescue native species so that are the people who come to the farm learning about live stock but about other species as well. I am also an MSU Ice Girl. We support the MSU Ice Hockey team through fan engagement and community involvement. We make sure the fans know that there is a game and that it's one worth going to. Hockey is hands down my favorite sport. Go Blues! Last summer I went to Berlin for four weeks and Prague for one weekend. It was by far the best experience that I have ever had. I miss the food, being surrounded by the language, and being able to walk or ride public transportation anywhere. The first chance that I have, I going back to visit it again.

A I F S ambassador Jared Dineen
  • Jared Dineen
  • Eastern Washington
  • Spain, Granada
  • Spring 2014

I'm a marketing major at Eastern Washington University. I studied in Granada, Spain, in the spring of 2014. I knew nothing about the city before I arrived, but I fell absolutely in love with Granada. Studying in Europe was an amazing experience; the history there is absolutely extraordinary. Ever since I studied abroad, I have been trying to figure out where I can go next!

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list" ~ Susan Sontag

A I F S ambassador Joanna Flanagan
  • Joanna Flanagan
  • University of Hartford
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Spring 2015

Hello! My name is Joanna and I am a senior at the University of Hartford majoring in Sociology with minors in Gender Studies and Communication. I love animals, talking to new people, and visiting new places! I am very active on my campus as an orientation leader, tour guide, and member of Women for Change, a campus activist organization. I am also a member of Uharmonies, an all-female a cappella group. During the spring of my junior year, I studied abroad at the University of Limerick, Ireland with AIFS. My experience abroad changed my life in so many ways and I am so excited to work with AIFS to help other students have the time of their life abroad!

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open" ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

A I F S ambassador Julia Franzosa
  • Julia Franzosa
  • Duquesne University
  • Maynooth, Ireland
  • Summer 2014

Hey guys! My name is Julia and I'm a senior Biology and Health Sciences double major at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. I made the best decision of my life last summer when I chose to spend a month in Maynooth, Ireland. At their incredible Hogwarts-styled campus, I took a class on the history of the Great Irish Famine! Studying abroad gave me the chance to meet some wonderful people from all over the country and have tons of craic (that's Irish slang for fun). You wouldn't really expect it, but going abroad changes your outlook on just about everything you do. When I become a physician's assistant, I would like to travel and provide care for people all over the world. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I strongly encourage all of you to consider. I know it's a leap of faith, but you won't regret it! Sláinte!

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." ~ Neale Donald Walsch

A I F S ambassador Megan McNulty
  • Megan McNulty
  • Xavier University
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Fall 2014

Hey there! My name is Megan and I am a student at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio as an Occupational Therapy major with a Gender and Diversity Studies minor. On campus, I’m a member of the Crew/Rowing Team and the Irish Dance Team. My favorite hobbies are yoga, skydiving, binge-watching Netflix, and (of course) traveling. In the fall of 2014, I had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland. Being of Irish heritage, I loved every minute of this adventure. Not only was I able to see Dublin, the Aran Islands, Croagh Patrick and the many other beautiful sights of Ireland, I was fortunate enough to see where my grandparents grew up and meet family I did not know I had. I was also able to see other European cities like Berlin, Milan, and Barcelona, to name a few. This experience made me further realize my passion for traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. Because of my newfound passion, I am already planning my next adventures!

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." ~ Ibn Battuta

A I F S ambassador Bianca Durant
  • Bianca Durant
  • Miami University (OH)
  • Florence, Italy
  • Summer 2014

Hey y'all! I am Bianca Durant, I'm from Atlanta Georgia and a senior Strategic Communications major at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I had the amazing opportunity to spend five weeks living in Florence in the summer of 2014. I took two great classes, Florentine Art History and History of the Italian Mafia. While I was there I traveled to Tuscany, Venice, Amsterdam and so many other amazing places. I made tons of lifelong friends from so many different universities and I wouldn't trade my time there for anything! Since I've been back on campus I am involved in Greek life, President of our student ambassador organization, Community Service Coordinator and a university tour guide.

"The most beautiful voice in the world is that of an education southern woman" ~ Sir Winston Churchill

A I F S ambassador Bridgette God
  • Bridgette God
  • University of Michigan
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2015

Hi! I am currently a senior studying chemical engineering at the University of Michigan. On campus I am involved with mentoring first year students and tutoring in physics. I also play many intramural sports. I love playing basketball, reading and hiking. Many students describe their semester abroad as “the best experience of their lives” but no one can truly understand the sincerity and power of this statement until he/she studies abroad himself/herself. Studying in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy last semester was beyond incredible. I lived with a wonderful host mom, met fantastic people, visited 10 different countries, and came away with beautiful memories and a life-long best friend. Studying abroad gave me an enormous feeling of wanderlust and I am desperately trying to travel any chance I can get. The experience also helped me to become more independent, open-minded and adventurous. I am thrilled to be an AIFS ambassador and have an opportunity to share my experience and memories with students who are looking to start the adventure of a lifetime.

"You will never feel completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place." ~ Miriam Adeney

A I F S ambassador Nathan Herman
  • Nathan Herman
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2015

Hi! My name is Nathan Herman and I am a junior at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I am double majoring in Financial Markets and Economics with a minor in Political Science. I am extremely outgoing and love meeting new people. On a typical day, you'll find me catching up on the latest TV series, working out, or planning and preparing for my next trip! I spent my spring semester abroad when I lived in the amazing city of Rome for 4 months. Those four months were the best of my life, where I had some great experiences and met some awesome people along the way... and of course had some delicious pizza too. Whether it's visiting a new city for the day, or flying across the ocean to visit a new country, I'm always looking for the next adventure in this amazing world of ours. Ciao!

"The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask" ~ Rick Ridgeway

A I F S ambassador Ariel Riggio
  • Ariel Riggio
  • Regis University
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2014

Ciao! My name is Ariel Riggio and I am a senior nursing student at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. I am a Colorado native and I love to hike, bike, paint, and practice yoga. I spent the spring of 2014 in Rome, Italy where I had the most amazing adventure of my life. I would spend my days site-seeing, wandering the cobblestone streets, painting, eating gelato, and practicing my Italian. I am already planning a trip to return back to Europe and cannot wait to help other students embark on their journey of a life time.

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us." ~ Anonymous

A I F S ambassador Jordan Serpentini
  • Jordan Serpentini
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2015

Ciao! I am going into my senior year as an International Business major and minor in Studio Art at Hawaii Pacific University. I took the courageous route as I always try to do, and decided to take the opportunity to live where I always have wanted to. I discovered my Italian roots in Florence Italy for a semester living with an Italian host family. With their help, and the help of the skateboarding community I was able to become fluent in Italian in a little over one semester. Beyond that, I was able to further my life goal of experiencing as many different perspectives as humanly possible. In my free time you can catch me skateboarding, surfing, doing art, playing guitar or studying other languages. I am set on finding a way to mesh my business degree with my passion for skateboarding and art. Through this study abroad I actually picked up more than the local dialect, but a new board sponsor also and am part of the LaFabbricona skate team and family for life.

"We don’t travel to escape life, we travel to not let life escape us." ~ Anonymous

A I F S ambassador Katie Schwalen
  • Katie Schwalen
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Spring 2015

Hi! My name is Katie Schwalen and I am a senior at Randolph-Macon College majoring in International Studies. I spent the spring of 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia and loved every second of it. I am so glad that I chose a challenging country, both culturally and linguistically, for my study abroad experience because it made me grow so much as a person and gave me memories I will cherish forever. I came back to America more independent and with a greater perspective of what the rest of the world has to offer. In my spare time, I play on the women’s soccer team at my college, go to the beach, drink way too much coffee, and spend time with my best friends. I hope that one day I can return to Russia and explore even more of the country that stole my heart!

"Personally, I like going places where I don’t speak the language, don’t know anybody, don’t know my way around, and I don’t have any delusions that I’m in control. Disoriented, even frightened, I feel alive, awake in ways I never am at home." ~ Michael Mewshaw

A I F S ambassador Pat Bollinger
  • Pat Bollinger
  • Towson University
  • Salamanca, Spain
  • Spring 2015

Hola! I'm currently a Junior at Towson University pursuing a double major in Economics and Spanish. I had the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Before my travels I had never even been off the east coast of the U.S. Now that I have seen the world my mind has opened tremendously. I met some of the smartest and nicest people abroad that I will have a lifelong friendship with. Studying abroad was the greatest thing to ever happen to me and I hope you all get to experience it as well!

A I F S ambassador Lauren Jillson
  • Lauren Jillson
  • Clemson University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Summer 2014

¡Hola! I'm a senior at Clemson University studying Genetics and Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish, and I traveled to the beautiful city of Granada, Spain! Having lived in the Carolinas all my life, this was my first trip abroad, but it certainly won't be my last. During my month in Spain, I took Spanish language classes and lived with an awesome host family. I probably learned more Spanish in this time than I have in years of classes in the states. After my month abroad I backpacked around Western Europe with my mom, and now I have hopes of experiencing the wonders of even more places with a friend after graduation! I love trying new ice cream flavors, watching movies, camping, and rowing with my teammates on the Clemson Crew team. It's impossible for me to pick a favorite day, photo, or experience from my time in Granada because I loved every minute of it! It changed how I look at the world, and I hope to help many other students find an experience they will also remember forever!

A I F S ambassador Kimberly Johnson
  • Kimberly Johnson
  • Mount St. Mary's University, Los Angeles
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2015

Hola! Me llamo Kimberly and I'm a senior at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles. I am studying sociology with a minor in ethnic studies. I spent my spring 2015 semester in the breathtaking city of Granada. Not only was I able to explore the world but I was also able to make lifelong friends and create a bond with my host mother. I've been introduced to cultures that have added to my knowledge of the world and have intensified my passion to help others in need. As a student ambassador I aim to assist others in having an experience as amazing as I did or possibly an even better one.

A I F S ambassador Malorie Kroeger
  • Malorie Kroeger
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Summer 2014

Hola! My name is Malorie Kroeger; Nebraskan born, Michigan raised, and now living in Florida. I am going into my senior year at Florida Gulf Coast University, where I am pursuing a degree in communication studies with a minor in Spanish language. I spent a summer abroad in Granada, Spain: a city that stole my heart. I’m an avid coffee drinker and lover of all dogs with an enormous desire to travel the world. My time abroad could easily be one of the best experiences I’ve had in life thus far. It gave me a new perspective on the world we live in and I want to encourage others to do the same.

"Not all those who wander are lost" ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

A I F S ambassador Katrina Laffoon
  • Katrina Laffoon
  • Southwest Baptist University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Summer 2014

The summer of 2014 I had the amazing opportunity of studying abroad in Granada, Spain with AIFS. I loved learning Spanish and about Spanish culture in class then stepping outside and experiencing it. This was my second time studying abroad; my senior year of high school I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student to Ecuador. I fell in love with both of these countries and have been bitten by the wanderlust bug. I am studying Education and Spanish at my university, and I hope to teach overseas at some point in my life. I’m actively involved in International Club at my school and in my multicultural church. I love learning about different cultures (both domestically and internationally), going on adventures with friends, and reading.

"Still round the corner, there may wait a new road or a secret gate." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

A I F S ambassador Nora Rich
  • Nora Rich
  • College of Charleston
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2015

Hola! My name is Nora Rich and I am a senior at the College of Charleston where I am studying Spanish and Linguistics. I just finished a semester in Granada, Spain, where I had the most incredible time and had the opportunity to become acquainted with the Spanish culture and travel throughout Europe. The entire experience was eye-opening to me and sparked my interest in the study abroad field as a whole. I can’t wait to share my stories with others! I already miss my travels and cannot wait to get back to it as soon as possible.

A I F S ambassador Shannon Rooney
  • Shannon Rooney
  • Virginia Tech
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Spring 2015

¡Hola! My name is Shannon, and I'm currently a Junior at Virginia Tech. I absolutely love to travel and experience different cultures, so studying abroad was a dream come true for me. With a minor in Spanish, it was obvious that Spain would be my abroad destination! I had an amazing experience living with a host family. While there, I took international business classes along with the local language course. Besides exploring the world, my passions include the environment, food, animals, and exercise. My travel goals are Australia and Asia, as well as visiting my host family back in Barcelona.

"You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." ~ Thomas Gilovich

A I F S ambassador Aysel Angelina Demirbag
  • Aysel Angelina Demirbag
  • University of San Francisco
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Summer 2014

Hello! My name is Aysel Angelina Demirbag and I am a senior at the University of San Francisco majoring in International Studies with an emphasis on peace and conflict in the Middle East. I feel blessed to have been born and raised in Maui, Hawaii. Being raised in Hawaii, I have developed a strong affinity for the ocean and nature and I try to spend as most time as possible enjoying nature and all its beauty! Last summer, I studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey and I can honestly say it was the best summer of my life so far. I had great academic experience, made amazing friends, travelled the country and, most importantly, ate delicious food! After graduating next year, I hope to meet up with all my amazing friends from my study abroad experience and start the next chapter of my life by going to graduate school abroad.

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2014-2015

A I F S ambassador Demetrius McClay
  • Demetrius McClay
  • Howard University
  • Perth, Australia
  • Spring 2014

G’day mate! I am a senior, Sports Medicine major from Chicago, Illinois. I spent five months in the wonderful "land down under” (Australia)! Talking about my abroad experience in a summary is impossible. However, I can express that this experience was remarkable and had a major impact on my life that I will cherish forever. Traveling abroad allowed me to become more opened minded and ambitious. I met amazing people, explored many incredible places, and became more knowledgeable about cultures throughout my adventure. During my spare time, I enjoy being physically active, reading, and watching movies while eating popcorn. Traveling gave me a better insight into the world. Now that I have the “travel bug,” I’m excited to see what my next adventure entails! Cheers!

A I F S ambassador Mollie Ann Wheeler
  • Mollie Ann Wheeler
  • Drake University
  • Vina del Mar, Chile
  • Spring 2014

My name is Mollie Ann Wheeler, and I was born and raised in Des Moines, IA (insurance capital of the world). I will be a junior this year at Drake University, also located in Des Moines, studying international business and Spanish. I love dogs, soccer, and the beach. I don't know how to ride a bike (yet), chocolate is kind of my thing, and I am currently in recovery from a coffee addiction. I studied abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile, this past spring and loved every second of it. I met some amazing people and learned a ton about both myself and the world around me. Can't wait for my next adventure!

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A I F S ambassador Jennifer Kvigne
  • Jennifer Kvigne
  • Augustana College
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2013

Hi! I'm Jen, an Alumni Ambassador for AIFS. I am currently a senior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I spent the spring semester of 2013 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Because I'm a Spanish and education major with an endorsement in English as a new language, it was the perfect opportunity for me to learn the language and experience a different culture. Now that I'm back on campus, I'm involved in cheerleading, choir, and various other clubs and activities. I hope to someday teach in a bilingual classroom, helping both Spanish and English students learn a new language, and be an agent for change in the lives of students.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

A I F S ambassador Taylor Cline
  • Taylor Cline
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Fall 2013

I’m a Spokane, WA, native, currently in my senior year at Seattle Pacific University. I ventured to Prague in the Fall of 2013 and had the most amazing semester imaginable. I saw a stunning corner of the world and developed relationships that quickly turned into lifelong friendships. I think about my experience abroad every single day, and I know it will continue to impact me for the rest of my life. I’m a Psychology major with an interest in a career in Human Resources (after I take off after graduation to do something adventurous abroad, of course). In my spare time you can find me binge-watching whatever Netflix series I'm currently interested in or spending the majority of a paycheck on concert tickets.

Words I live by: Eat well, travel often.

A I F S ambassador Natalie Floreani
  • Natalie Floreani
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2014

Ahoj! My name is Natalie Floreani, and I am a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Child, Youth, and Family Studies. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, during the spring 2014 semester, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. From this amazing adventure, I gained a new network of friends from all around the world. I’m already planning my next big trip after graduation because my time abroad fostered my love to travel. In my free time, I love to cook, go to Husker football games, read, work out and volunteer.

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." ~ C.S. Lewis

A I F S ambassador Mary Margaret Kidnay-Rouse
  • Mary Margaret Kidnay-Rouse
  • Regis University
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Fall 2013

My name is Mary Margaret Kidnay-Rouse, but I prefer to go by Maggie. I spent a fantastic semester in Prague, Czech Republic in the Fall of 2013. I am a senior at Regis University and an English major with a Business minor. I am currently doing an internship at my university’s study abroad office and believe in the unique earning opportunities that studying abroad offers students. I enjoy volunteering for different organizations, reading, and having new experiences.

"I am not a great cook, I am not a great artist, but I love art, and I love food, so I am the perfect traveler." ~ Michael Palin

A I F S ambassador Bianca Auriemma
  • Bianca Auriemma
  • Towson University
  • London, England
  • Summer 2013

Hi! I am currently a senior at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland (born and raised), majoring in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies. My plan is to attend graduate school for a Master's Degree in Social Work. I can usually be found with my nose in a book or my eyes behind a camera. I cannot stay in one place for a long time, hence my great desire to travel. I spent July 2013 taking a photography class in London, England, and I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I am always up for trying new and adventurous things, seeing places I've never seen, and eating authentic and exotic foods. I have a great love for Siberian Huskies, sea turtles, fancy coffee drinks, and pretending I'm a blogger. I am excited to one day return to London and eventually explore the rest of this vast and beautiful world.

"One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things." ~ Henry Miller

A I F S ambassador Adrienne Aldridge-Kiner
  • Adrienne Aldridge-Kiner
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Grenoble, France
  • Spring 2014

A senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, I’m wrapping up my studies in international studies and French. I’d describe myself as an outgoing person, eager and willing to learn, teach and meet people and hear their stories. In my free time, I play volleyball, study languages and reminisce on my time abroad (it went by too fast!). Last semester I had an absolutely amazing experience studying abroad in France. I had a wonderful host family and met life-long friends in the absolutely breath-taking city of Grenoble. My favorite part of the trip, besides traveling all over Europe, was the almost total language immersion in which I had the opportunity to improve my French immensely. I look forward to going back soon. Studying abroad gave me great insight into what I might want to do with my future. I came back to the United States more independent, determined and open-minded. I’ve learned that language is very powerful and has the capability to bring people from different nations and cultures together. I hope to return to Europe soon to teach English and continue improving my French, and even my German (my first language-love). I cannot express how amazing the program in Grenoble is or even study abroad. I hope I encourage students to take the plunge and go abroad!

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." ~ Pericles "

A I F S ambassador Andrea Reith
  • Andrea Reith
  • Christopher Newport University
  • Limerick, Ireland
  • Fall 2013

I am a senior at Christopher Newport University, where I major in economics and double minor in psychology and leadership studies. At school I am involved in several music ensembles, dressage club, crew club, and this year I am absolutely thrilled to be an AIFS Alumni Ambassador as well. In fall of 2013 I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Ireland, where I studied at the University of Limerick. In addition to my love for travel, I like watching The Office, eating ice cream, and reading Ken Follett novels.

"I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

A I F S ambassador Gabi Forgione
  • Gabi Forgione
  • West Chester University
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2014

Hi, my name is Gabi! I am a Communication Studies major at West Chester University and I am currently a senior. I enjoy traveling, so I decided to take a huge leap and study abroad in Florence last semester. It was the best jump of my life because I instantly fell in love with Italy. I left half of my heart, and my favorite pair of worn-out boots, in the “boot.” I am very independent and creative. I have a knack for naming almost any song within twenty seconds, and I love to dance. I hope to travel more in the future and share some of my incredible experiences as an Alumni Ambassador!

"People don't take trips, trips take people."

A I F S ambassador Catherine Harger
  • Catherine Harger
  • University of Hartford
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2014

My name is Catherine Harger, and I'm an Art major at the University of Hartford. To try to recount my whole experience studying in Florence in the Spring of 2014 would be like trying to describe someone's life story in a span of two minutes; it'd be impossible. However, I can attempt to communicate how the people I met, the knowledge I accumulated, and the different perspectives I was exposed to changed my life forever. Sometimes I still can't believe I took that leap of faith and joined the wonderful AIFS Florence program, but I am infinitely grateful that I did. Since coming back from Italy, I still love to swim, dance, read, and create; all of those hobbies have a new meaning and light because of my experience abroad. I'm excited to keep sharing that light with the world.

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is." ~ H. Jackson Browne

A I F S ambassador Megan Harris
  • Megan Harris
  • College of Charleston
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2014

Ciao a tutti! Though I originally hail from the greater Philadelphia area, I traded in Pennsylvania farmlands for South Carolina coastline for college and found a home-away-from-home in the ever-charming city of Charleston. Currently, I’m a senior at the College of Charleston, where I’m a double major in Arts Management and Art History and a Theatre minor. Quite obviously, I live for all things artistic - and for that reason alone, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my Spring 2014 semester than the world-renowned art mecca of Florence, Italy. My study abroad experience left me with amazing lifelong friends, a new perspective on the world, and the discovery that art, my greatest passion, can open doors and expand my horizons in ways I never dreamed possible. I look forward to working with AIFS - the organization that made it all happen - as an Alumni Ambassador this year!

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it." ~ Roald Dahl

A I F S ambassador Jessica Hartmann
  • Jessica Hartmann
  • California State University, San Marcos
  • Florence, Italy
  • January Term 2014

Hey, I'm Jessica! I live in San Diego, and I love it. I have been blessed and have traveled to over 30 countries! I am double majoring in Communications and International Business. I have decided that I will spend my whole life traveling because that is what makes me the most happy. I recently lived and studied in Florence, Italy. Being Italian, I ate pasta every single day, along with gelato! I cannot encourage you enough to go out and see the world, and studying abroad let me fully immerse myself in Italy! Other things I do with my life include working as a waitress, going to the beach all the time, and shopping. I cannot wait to see where my next adventure is in life! Ciao!

Quote/ Motto I live life by: Every day is an opportunity to experience an adventure.

A I F S ambassador Sarah Massie
  • Sarah Massie
  • Bethel University
  • Rome, Italy
  • Fall 2013

I’m senior Organizational Communication major with an emphasis in Marketing and Public Relations at Bethel University. While that’s a mouthful of a major, I simply love learning how organizations communicate with their employees and their consumers. I’ve always wanted to travel, so I studied abroad in Rome in fall of 2013, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I am a die-hard music and movie fan. I love reading and exploring new cities with my closest friends. Traveling gave me such a new perspective on how diverse and colorful the world really is.

"Leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition." ~ Alan Alda

A I F S ambassador Rachel Mihulka
  • Rachel Mihulka
  • University of South Dakota
  • Rome, Italy
  • Fall 2013

Ciao a tutti! My name is Rachel Mihulka. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and I cannot believe I'm already a senior in college! I love being involved on my campus. I'm the president of Student Ambassadors, while being an active member of my sorority and USD's orientation team. I have a huge sweet tooth and am addicted to coffee. I could watch Disney movies all day and love the thrill of speaking in front of large crowds. My passions include blogging about my adventures, watching history documentaries, enjoying the outdoors, and, of course, traveling! I am studying the fast-paced industries of Public Relations and Advertising, and I can't wait for my future European dreams to become my reality!

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

A I F S ambassador Michelle Wass
  • Michelle Wass
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2013

Ciao! I am a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh, working to complete a Biology major, Italian minor, and Global Health Certificate. I made the best decision of my life to study abroad in Rome, Italy, in the Spring 2013 semester. As a result of this experience, I now have a network of friends and family all over the globe, and endless desire to travel! Thanks to my wonderful host family I have become fluent in the Italian language, and I've gained invaluable multicultural perspectives. I insist on finding a way to incorporate my passion for traveling into my planned profession as a Physician Assistant. Now that I'm back in the US, I devote most of my time to my studies and staying involved on campus, but moments in between you might find me playing guitar, drinking a vanilla chai tea latte, or watching stand up comedy of some sort.

Words I choose to live by: "Don't settle."

A I F S ambassador Lidia Gregg
  • Lidia Gregg
  • Texas A and M
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Spring 2014

Howdy! My name is Lidia Gregg, and I’m a senior International Studies major from Plano, Texas. More importantly, I am the loudest and proudest member of the fightin’ Texas Aggies class of 2015! With the help of AIFS, I was able to study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the spring of 2014. I had such a great time traveling to neighboring countries, making new friends and learning everything that makes Russia different from the rest of the world. As a result, my language skills and knowledge of Russia’s culture have improved immensely. I love to read, listen to music, go to football games, and plant trees with my organization on campus.

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. " ~ Theodore Roosevelt

A I F S ambassador Leah-Marie Duran
  • Leah-Marie Duran
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2014

I am going to be a senior this year at the University of Texas at Austin. I had the greatest opportunity to study abroad in the spring of my junior year in Granada, Spain. Being abroad was the most eye-opening experience, and I am eager to share my experiences with others as an Ambassador! I was able to finish my Spanish degree while in Spain, and I will be finishing my Psychology degree this year in the U.S. In my spare time I enjoy cycling, yoga, reading, and planning my next traveling adventure.

"Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in." ~ Andrew Zimmern

A I F S ambassador Hayley Humen
  • Hayley Humen
  • Miami University in Ohio
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2014

Hi! My name is Hayley Humen, and I am a senior International Studies major at Miami University in Ohio, but originally hailing from Libertyville, IL. I spent the spring of 2014 in Granada, Spain - my new favorite place in the world. I was so grateful for my time abroad and knew I wanted to find a way to continue this experience, so the Ambassador program was a perfect choice for me. My time in Spain and traveling through Europe opened my eyes to the rest of the world, and now all I want to do is share that vision with other students.

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." ~ Henry Miller

A I F S ambassador Jennifer Rivera
  • Jennifer Rivera
  • Mount St Mary's College
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2014

Hola!! My name is Jennifer, and I am a senior studying social work and criminology at Mount St Mary's College in Los Angeles, California. I spent four amazing months in the beautiful city of Granada, the city that stole my heart. Traveling has become one of my greatest passions, and I hope to one day step foot on all the continents. I enjoy listening to music, cooking, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made, and I want to encourage others to make that same decision.

"La vida no se mide por las veces que respiras, sino por aquellos momentos que te dejan sin aliento."

A I F S ambassador Jared Dineen
  • Jared Dineen
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2014

I'm a marketing major at Eastern Washington University. I studied in Granada, Spain, in the spring of 2014. I knew nothing about the city before I arrived, but I fell absolutely in love with Granada. Studying in Europe was an amazing experience; the history there is absolutely extraordinary. Ever since I studied abroad, I have been trying to figure out where I can go next!

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." ~ Susan Sontag

AIFS Alumni Ambassadors – 2013-2014

A I F S ambassador Richard Suarez
  • Richard Suarez
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2012

I am 21 years old and studied abroad with AIFS in Salzburg, Austria during the fall of 2012. This year, I'm a senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. I'm from the Bronx, NY, in New York City and am currently an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, Diversity Ambassador, Diversity Senator, and intern at the Democratic Legislature's office at Monroe County within the Rochester community.

A I F S ambassador Erin McHenry
  • Erin McHenry
  • Drake University
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Fall 2012

I'm a senior studying journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. I'm a die-hard Harry Potter fan and enjoy reading, running, playing soccer, and (of course!) traveling. I spent fall semester of 2012 in Salzburg, Austria, with AIFS and can't wait to go back and visit my host family. My next destination: either Thailand or Alaska, unless I manage to snag a spot on the “Amazing Race.” Then I'd just go everywhere!

“Life loves the liver of it.” - Maya Angelou, OR: There's always room for dessert. Because trust me, you never say no to a slice of homemade apple strudel.

A I F S ambassador Jacy Schwager
  • Jacy Schwager
  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Spring 2013

My name is Jacy Schwager, and I am currently a Senior History Major at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. I grew up on a ranch outside of the small town of Chambers, Nebraska, before moving to Lincoln to attend Cosmetology School. I then worked as a hair stylist in Norman, Oklahoma, for a year before returning to Nebraska to become a Husker. I can usually be found with my nose in a history book, working at my salon, or talking to people about my wonderful experience studying abroad with AIFS. I am a firm believer in the power of laughter, kindness, and black coffee. If ever I find myself in need of motivation, I watch “Legally Blonde” and channel my inner Elle Woods. In my free time I enjoy eating pizza, wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble, and Googling my future travel adventures and images of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated." - Oscar Wilde

A I F S ambassador Jennifer Kvigne
  • Jennifer Kvigne
  • Augustana College
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Spring 2013

Hi! I'm Jen, an Alumni Ambassador for AIFS. I am currently a Junior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I spent last semester in San Jose, Costa Rica. Because I'm a Spanish and education major with an endorsement in English as a new language, it was the perfect opportunity for me to learn the language and experience a different culture. Now that I'm back on campus, I'm involved in cheerleading, choir, and various other clubs and activities. I hope to someday teach to children who are learning English and be an agent for change in the lives of students.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

A I F S ambassador Megan Ling
  • Megan Ling
  • University of Michigan
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Spring 2013

My name is Megan Ling and I'm currently a senior at the University of Michigan. I studied abroad in Prague in the Czech Republic during the spring 2013 semester, where I met some of my best friends and fell in love with a city more than I thought was possible. At Michigan, I am studying Psychology and Public Health and would like to pursue a career in Global Health and Education. I chose this career path because it combines two of my passions, improving the lives of others and traveling this beautiful world. I'm a happy girl anytime that I'm playing soccer, skiing, reading a book, with my family, or spending time on the water. Studying abroad taught me to appreciate the little things in life and left me with a strong desire to see the world. I'm constantly daydreaming about the day that I'll return to Praha, the city that stole my heart.

A I F S ambassador Nicole Pirrella
  • Nicole Pirrella
  • West Chester University
  • London, England
  • Summer 2013

Hello! My name is Nicole Pirrella, and I am 22 and beginning my graduate degree in English Literature at West Chester University. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to encourage others to study abroad while obtaining my master’s degree. When I was a senior in college, I studied in London, UK. The opportunity was once-in-a-lifetime and I seized it with both hands. During my time abroad, I studied Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, watched plays performed on that very stage, toured the sights of the iconic city, ventured to Paris and stood beneath the Eiffel Tower as it glowed in the moonlight, and most importantly, studied in the land in which my degree is grounded. It was such an unforgettable and life-changing experience in so many ways. I, thousands and thousands of miles away from my home, found myself. I found so much of myself between Britain and France that I returned only eight short months later. It has become, since my time abroad, a great passion of mine to travel. I hope to encourage others to break their boundaries and expand their perception of the world as I did. And it all began by stepping on that plane over a year ago.

"My Dear, find what you love, and let it kill you." ~ Charles Bukowski

A I F S ambassador Mikayla Reid
  • Mikayla Reid
  • University of Rhode Island
  • London, England
  • Spring 2014

I’m a senior at the University of Rhode Island, studying fashion and theater and hoping to be a costume designer in the future. On campus I am in a sorority and part of our Dance Company. I also love soccer, art, and the outdoors. I studied in London last semester where I had an internship with couturier Suzie Turner, and loved every moment there. I plan to continue traveling for the rest of my life; there is so much beauty and culture only a plane ride away!

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A I F S ambassador Teyonna Ridgeway
  • Teyonna Ridgeway
  • Howard University
  • London, England
  • Spring 2013

I am a communications gal and southern belle who loves to write, read, and travel. As a public relations major, I hope to blend my love for communications and philanthropy by working in the community relations sector of a major media company. I am an avid “Scandal” watcher, a camel lover, and a dreamer. I have a passion for mentoring and inspiring others to follow their dreams. One day I hope to travel to every continent, become a motivational speaker, and join the Peace Corps. But until then, I plan to finish my senior year at Howard University in Washington, D.C. strong! May 10, 2014, is right around the corner!

A I F S ambassador Nupur Gambhir
  • Nupur Gambhir
  • Ohio State University
  • London, England
  • Summer 2012

I am a senior and Economics major at Ohio State University. I spent one of the most amazing summers of my life in London, England, and love to travel all over the place. There is nothing better than meeting new people, experiencing new things, and always being taken by surprise in life- at home and abroad. Though I'm currently not traveling in order to finish my education, I'm always planning a trip and I satisfy my wanderlust by discovering all the hidden nooks of Columbus. My passions include development and sustainability, an uplifting yoga class, chocolate cake, late night runs, and of course, traveling the world.

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry.

A I F S ambassador Megan Lewis
  • Megan Lewis
  • Stonehill College
  • London, England
  • Fall 2012

I am a senior at Stonehill College who studied in London for the fall semester of my junior year and credit this for greatly impacting my life. I'm a communications major and journalism minor who tries my very hardest not to flood my friend's social media feeds with my article finds about the "best new jackets for fall" or basically anything concerning dachshunds. A pretty well traveled 21-year old, with just about 12 countries under my belt, I am anticipating that my time in America post-graduation will be short, and hoping some traveling will be in the immediate future.

"We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment." - Hillare Bolloc

A I F S ambassador Corianna Lehrman
  • Corianna Lehrman
  • College of Charleston
  • Paris, France
  • Spring 2013

I am originally from Washington, D.C. and am a senior at the College of Charleston studying Communications with a specific interest in Public Relations. Last Spring, I studied abroad in Paris, France. Backpacking various European countries, taking multiple wine classes, and eating authentic food in every destination fueled my love for travel, food, and the wine industry, something she hopes to pursue after graduation.

"L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux," or "What's essential is invisible to the eye." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A I F S ambassador Mary Fox
  • Mary Fox
  • Clemson University
  • Paris, France
  • Summer 2012

I'm Mary Fox, I'm from Blythewood, South Carolina, and I am currently a senior at Clemson University. I'm a genetics major and I hope to go to medical school one day. At Clemson I'm a campus tour guide, I'm in a sorority, I do student government, and I have my own radio show every week! I love to stay busy doing things around campus and go to Clemson football and baseball games.

"We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde ... I've loved this quote ever since I first saw it written on Oscar Wilde's grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris!

A I F S ambassador Caroline Meintzer
  • Caroline Meintzer
  • University of Alabama
  • Cannes, France
  • Spring 2013

Hailing from Tuscaloosa, I am currently finishing up my senior year at the University of Alabama as a journalism major and French minor. I spent a semester abroad in the spring of 2013 on the French Riviera in Cannes. Highlights of my semester included traveling around Europe, teaching French people the correct way to sing “Sweet Home Alabama,” and interning at the Cannes Film Festival. I hope to save a few pennies and head abroad again one day soon, but in the meantime, I enjoy writing, baking, obsessing over my dog Teddy, and quoting Pixar movies way too much.

A I F S ambassador Kellie James
  • Kellie James
  • Texas A&M
  • Paris, France
  • Spring 2013

Howdy! My name is Kellie James, I am a Senior International Studies major from Austin, Texas, but, more importantly, I am the loudest and proudest member of the fightin' Texas Aggie class of 2014! I studied abroad in Paris, France with AIFS in the spring of 2013. I had such an AMAZING experience traveling the world and making a place like Paris my home that I decided to dedicate my time to students at Texas A&M. I want to make sure others have the opportunity to study abroad like I did!

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris...then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." - Ernest Hemingway

A I F S ambassador Tova Miller
  • Tova Miller
  • University of Florida
  • Florence, Italy
  • Spring 2013

I am a 22-year-old University of Florida college senior majoring in journalism with a concentration in art and art history. I am a music-loving, dance-around-the-room, go-to-concerts type of gal. But for me that is not where the excitement ends. It is where it begins. I am a writer. I am a coffee addict, who sits at the computer for hours to write. I am a designer. I am a photographer. I am a culture freak. I am an art enthusiast. I am social a media junky. I am a trendsetter. I am an animal lover. I am a baker. I am a crafter. Above all else, I am normal person just like you. I meet deadlines. I follow through. I live for interviews. I watch the news. I go to farmers markets. I go to class. I go home. I go to the beach. I go on road trips. And most importantly, I have this unquenchable thirst for travel, a type of wanderlust thanks to AIFS and my semester abroad in Florence, Italy.

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." - Leonardo da Vinci

A I F S ambassador Michelle Wass
  • Michelle Wass
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Rome, Italy
  • Spring 2013

Ciao! I am a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh, working to complete a Biology major, Italian minor, and Global Health Certificate. I made the best decision of my life to study abroad in Rome, Italy, in the Spring 2013 semester. As a result of this experience, I now have a network of friends and family all over the globe, and endless desire to travel! Thanks to my wonderful host family I have become fluent in the Italian language, and I've gained invaluable multicultural perspectives. I insist on finding a way to incorporate my passion for traveling into my planned profession as a Physician Assistant. Now that I'm back in the US, I devote most of my time to my studies and staying involved on campus, but moments in between you might find me playing guitar, drinking a vanilla chai tea latte, or watching stand up comedy of some sort.

Words I choose to live by: "Don't settle."

A I F S ambassador Lidia Gregg
  • Lidia Gregg
  • Texas A and M
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Spring 2014

Howdy! My name is Lidia Gregg, and I’m a senior International Studies major from Plano, Texas. More importantly, I am the loudest and proudest member of the fightin’ Texas Aggies class of 2015! With the help of AIFS, I was able to study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the spring of 2014. I had such a great time traveling to neighboring countries, making new friends and learning everything that makes Russia different from the rest of the world. As a result, my language skills and knowledge of Russia’s culture have improved immensely. I love to read, listen to music, go to football games, and plant trees with my organization on campus.

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. " ~ Theodore Roosevelt

A I F S ambassador Benjamin Melano
  • Benjamin Melano
  • California Lutheran University
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Fall 2012

My name is Benjamin Melano, and I am a senior at California Lutheran University. I am studying Political Science with an emphasis in Law and Public Policy. I have studied abroad in Paris, France, and St. Petersburg, Russia. I love politics, especially international politics, and current events. I immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii when I was 12. Before studying abroad, I spoke Tagalog, Ilokano, and English. After studying abroad, I have added French and Russian to my vocabulary. I am a big Harry Potter fan. Currently, I am an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and the Student Life Programming Intern.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page." - St. Augustine.

A I F S ambassador Rachel Hampton
  • Rachel Hampton
  • Howard University
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2014

My name is Rachel, and I am currently a Broadcast News Major, Spanish Minor studying at Howard University in Washington DC. Set to graduate in May 2015, I'm currently developing my skills as a multi-media journalist while becoming an influential mentor, role model, community server, and leader. I am a native of Hamilton, New Jersey, a sister to one, and a daughter to a supportive pair of parents. As the first in my family to attend a four-year institution, I have my sights set on continuously growing and improving in every way possible. Studying abroad at the University of Granada, Spain, was one of the best experiences in which I have chosen to partake. I was able to completely immerse myself in a culture unlike my own and learn about others as I continued to learn about myself. I'm a lover of spontaneous exploring, retail therapy (shopping), learning, and serving others. I'm equipped with an energetic personality, adoration of Solange Knowles, and addiction to green tea, and I’m ready to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. " ~ Maya Angelou

A I F S ambassador Carla Quiroga
  • Carla Quiroga
  • Mount St. Mary's College
  • Granada, Spain
  • Spring 2013

My name is Carla Quiroga, and I am a Sociology major at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, California. One of my hobbies is photography, which I have been doing for about eight years now. I realized early on that I love to photograph landscapes and candid portraiture, so you can imagine traveling abroad gave me an unlimited amount of feed!

"There is nowhere you can be that isn't where you aren't meant to be."

A I F S ambassador Elle Hawthorne
  • Elle Hawthorne
  • Texas Tech University
  • European Art & Architecture, Traveling Program
  • Summer 2012

My name is Elle Hawthorne, and I am a (super) senior at Texas Tech University studying Communication Design. Being a graphic designer and social media intern means I am glued to my laptop 98% of my day, so I try to spend the other 2% doing stuff that won't strain my eyes. I love finding hole-in-the-wall places to eat, people -watching/going to the gym, and reading Harry Potter as if I don't have them memorized by now.

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." - William G.T. Shedd