Study Abroad Student Profiles

Daniel Agan

Daniel Agan

Accounting Major, London, England

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because I wanted to experience life in a different culture. When I went to London, I was completely out of my comfort zone. But, I wanted to have the experience of going abroad to help me to grow as a person. I also really wanted to be able to see the world first-hand! I knew that going abroad would allow me to do all of these things.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

I honestly believe that studying abroad was the best decision I have ever and will ever make. But, if I had to choose one reason why someone should go abroad, it would be to see the world. You have the opportunity to live in a place many people dream of living. It is a fantastic experience, and the way you see the world will never be the same!

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

My most memorable experience was all of the traveling I was able to do. There is so much to do in London, and I was never bored! It is also centrally located, which makes travel to other countries very easy. I was able to visit Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Amsterdam, and Wales!

What was your first week like abroad?

My first week abroad was very exciting. I was so anxious to get to London and to see everything the city had to offer. I had an entire week to see the city before the semester actually began. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and to get comfortable with where I was living. I went on many tours and trips within London during the first week. It was so awesome to see all of the places that I had only ever seen in pictures!

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

The biggest obstacle that I had to face while studying abroad was being away from all of my family and friends. It was so easy to communicate with everyone, though. I never really felt homesick, but it was hard to be away from people that I was used to seeing every single day.

Tell us two or three things that help us understand how you felt living in the city where you chose to study.

I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to live in London. There was never a dull moment in this city! I come from a fairly small hometown, so living in one of the biggest cities in the world was different from anything that I was used to. At first, it was a bit overwhelming. I adjusted very quickly, though! I was never bored in London. There was always something going on, whether it was some type of campus event or a festival somewhere in the city. There is something for everyone in London!

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

Take advantage of any free time that you get and go explore! You never know when you might get the opportunity to go back to London, so do all that you can in the time you are there. Time goes by so quickly! Enjoy every second!


Caroline Benbenek

Caroline Benbenek

Nursing Major, London, England

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Traveling has always been a priority of mine and ever since high school, I thought Study Abroad was the coolest thing a college could offer.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

You will come back much more appreciative and mindful of everything/everyone around you. It will change the way you look at things you used to see every day.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

It’s between hitchhiking in Croatia and the Northern Lights in Iceland.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

Culture shock – international and from people from other parts of the US.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

Eggs on the street, beautiful green parks, and antique looking buildings a block over.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

SAVE YOUR MONEY and dream big because once you’re there, all of Europe is at your fingertips.

How has studying abroad affected your personal development?

I am so much more mature and open-minded. I never thought I would defend so many cultures over my own as much as I do now. And I never thought I would be so interested in global matters. Now I just feel like I understand so much more than I could have before.


Ed Buell

Ed Buell

Prague, Czech Republic

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself in a completely new way. I wanted the chance to see the world and be completely independent for the first time in my life.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

Unless you go out into the world and explore, you will never gain the remarkable knowledge about yourself and others that I believe can only be learned through first-hand experience.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

My most memorable experience from abroad would have to be the solo trip that I took to Budapest. For 3 days I was completely on my own, in my own head, forced to rely on my own skills and abilities. When I first arrived abroad I vowed to never travel alone because I thought I would be very lonely. But by the end of my experience, I had learned that sometimes spending time getting to know yourself better is the most rewarding experience you can have.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

The biggest obstacle I faced while I was abroad was getting used to having a language barrier. I was very nervous when I first arrived in Prague because I spoke no Czech but I soon learned the basics and was able to get by very effectively.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

My favorite scent from the streets of Prague would have to be the smell of a wood-burning fire. All along the streets and in the main squares there would be markets with sausages, ham, roasted nuts, and many other traditional Czech foods cooking on hand-made wooden fires. My favorite sight would have to be the Prague Castle. The view from my classroom window was the castle and the famous Charles Bridge. It truly made me feel like I was living in a fairytale world.

How has studying abroad affected your personal development?

Studying abroad changed who I am as a person. I learned so much about who I am because I was forced to be my main support system and rely on myself. Through traveling the world, I gained a new perspective on where I fit in the world and on the beliefs that I hold. It was very humbling to learn that my life, my attitudes, and my experiences are all a part of a complex world, but are no more or less significant than anyone else's.

As I succeeded at navigating countless cities and new cultures, I became more and more confident in myself which I know will carry on in my future endeavors. Overall, study abroad gave me the life tools and attitude to go back out into the world and make my goals come true.


Maggie Dec

Maggie Dec

Psychology Major, Limerick, Ireland

Why did you decide to study abroad?

It has always been a dream of mine to travel. I was informed of study abroad opportunities before I applied to Fisher, so I had it in my mind that this is what I wanted to do. My number one choice of a place to visit has always been Ireland. The fact that my financial aid and scholarships were all applied to my tuition through AIFS further gave me the reinforcement I needed that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It took a lot of planning, but it was completely worth it.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

You’ll never have this opportunity again. Not only are you getting credits toward your major, but you are given the opportunity to experience another country. Travel is also extremely cheap. Planning a trip to one location in Europe outright is a couple thousand dollars itself. I was able to travel to eight countries within my four month semester and spent about $4,500. That is a lot of money, but I spent at least three days in every country and traveled all over Ireland. I could never put a price on what I experienced.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

It’s impossible for me to pick out one memorable experience. As I said before, I was able to go to eight different countries (Ireland included) and had an amazing experience in each country. In Ireland, I learned how to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, venture around the Cliffs of Moher, and visit numerous castles and cities. I experienced Oktoberfest in Germany. I ventured to the very top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I was blessed by the Pope in Rome. I climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Scotland. I had authentic Belgian waffles and chocolate in Belgium. I was able to see all of London on the London Eye in England. I was able to see some of the most beautiful and unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, in Spain. The experiences and memories I have are uncountable.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

Although almost everywhere you go people will speak English, the biggest obstacle I faced had to be the language barrier in some countries. Probably the most nerve-wracking experience I had with this obstacle was in Barcelona, Spain when neither I, nor the group I was traveling with, knew the address of our hostel and we ended up in a location where nobody spoke English. Thankfully some of us knew a little Spanish so we could semi-communicate with the people in the area!

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

The sight, smell, and sound of rain became a major part of my life. It rained 5 out of, if not all, 7 days of the week. I used to hate the rain, but now I don’t mind it one bit. One sight that I will never forget was the view of Ireland from an airplane. Before landing in Shannon for the first time, I remember looking down out of my window and seeing the most beautiful shades of green. Ireland looked like a giant paint palette of every shade of green, each shade separated by different hedgerows of trees. It was my favorite sight to see landing and taking off. I can’t wait to see that sight again.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

Go everywhere you’ve ever wanted to go. Spend all of your money. Don’t hold back. Take every chance you can possibly get. See as much of the country you study in as possible. This opportunity will only come by once in a lifetime – don’t pass this experience up!


Liasor Dima

Liasor Dima

Political Science/ International Studies Major, Granada, Spain

Why did you decide to study abroad?

To be honest, I was looking for adventure and the chance to do that as part of my coursework seemed like a no-brainer. Of course I didn't know where I wanted to go, so I had to do that part of my research separately from the decision to study abroad itself.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

I found that the more afraid someone is to go abroad, the better their experience will be. I know this because I talked to other students from all over that were in my program. With this, I would say  "just do it." The only regret you will have if you do it, is coming back to America. I always say and think "I should have stayed."

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

Studying abroad was the best choice I have ever made so far. My most memorable moments would be making real friends from all over the world that were my age and sharing my culture with students who have never heard of where I come from. I made some really close friends from Japan, America, Indonesia, Cyprus, Spain, England, Ireland, and Australia. I still keep in touch with them, and for some of these students, the only thing we have in common is the fact that we know enough Spanish to communicate with each other. Contrary to popular belief, everyone does not speak English.

What was your first week like abroad?

My first week was filled with tours of the city of Granada, Spain and orientation classes that taught us about what to expect, and popular terms and what they really mean when a native says them versus an outsider. There were 42 people in my CCA program and for orientation we all stayed together, went on tours together, and were introduced to the cultural norms together outside of the classroom. We met our host families and began a relationship that many fear, but which always turns out to be good if worked at, and one that ultimately improved my Spanish substantially.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

Because I was looking for adventure, I went to all the places that I wanted to go inside of Spain and out on my free time and that took a lot of money. So my biggest obstacle was the fact that my funds/money was in limited supply; I couldn't afford to go to all the places around Europe that I wanted to. However, the money I had was enough to take me to four of the six places that I really wanted to go, which in my opinion is not that bad.

Tell us two or three things that help us understand how you felt living in the city where you chose to study.

Living in Granada is like living a dream in paradise. The city is incredibly beautiful so it was basically like vacation when I wasn't in class. I felt like I was in the right place and this is why I wasn't having homesickness or sadness which some people naturally felt. Making new friends and enjoying where I was took care of all of that.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

If you are going through Central College Abroad, you should go to Granada, Spain. The staff is so well prepared and great with each and every student that your experience is enhanced beyond that of other programs. This is also due to the schedule that they have for you there. The cultural excursions and the seminars are so educational in the most interesting ways that you would never have expected.


Courtney Dubiel

Courtney Dubiel

Perth, Australia

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I studied abroad because I wanted to experience other parts of the world, as well as different cultures.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

I promise you will not regret it. You meet some of the greatest people and learn things about yourself and the world that you probably would never learn if you stay in New York.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

Probably traveling to Fiji and Bali, Indonesia. They are relatively poor countries, but they are some of the happiest people you will ever meet. It was just amazing to see how they made livings and what they valued.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

I had broken my wrist the first month in Australia. So, figuring out insurance and hospital bills was very difficult because I couldn't just call up my parents to figure it out for me.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while abroad.

If you have seen Anchorman 2, I would say the Australian boss's accent when he first addresses the news crew and no one understands what he is saying. Hearing really thick Australian accents was like that every day. Usually you had no clue what they were saying.

How has studying abroad affected your personal development?

Studying abroad has made me more aware of myself and more aware of how different cultures can affect a person's train of thought. I met people from all over the world and everyone's values, ethics, and train of thought was different depending on where they were from.


Daniel Gerow

Daniel Gerow

Psychology Major, Leiden, The Netherlands

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because I have always wanted to travel the world. I figured there was no better time to go abroad than when in college as the next time will more than likely be when I am retired.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

You will gain a better insight to yourself and the world around you, as well as not miss anything at your college.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

I can’t narrow it down to one experience. Going to an Arsenal football (soccer) match in London is one of them; traveling to Marrakesh, Morocco, Africa would be another; taking part in my first half-marathon in Amsterdam; becoming a regular at a pub for football (soccer) matches to the point that when my friend and I walked in, the bartender knew to put Arsenal on. I think just the entire experience will be memorable to me. From the places I traveled to the people I met; I will never forget those 3.5 months spent in Leiden, the Netherlands.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

Possibly the biggest obstacle, even though it was not that big of a deal, was cooking for myself. I’ve never really had to do it for more than 3 days in a row before, so to continuously do it was a bit different.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

People taking time to enjoy life and live in the moment; this was a sight I saw the most in Leiden. Folks sitting at bistros or pubs midday and having coffee or a beer and taking a moment to relax and let the moment sink in. Smells of the fresh bread, fish, cheese, fruits, and vegetables at the market were overwhelmingly beautiful.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

Don’t question it! Just do it! You won’t miss anything at your home institution. It will be better for yourself; you will grow as an individual and it will open your mind to how other parts of the world think and act.


Dan Kelley

Dan Kelley

Accounting Major, London, England

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Being able to learn from a different culture and meet new people made me want to study abroad.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

I would say that no matter where you go, you will fall in love with it and the memories you make will be some of your fondest of all of college.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

I enjoyed exploring the streets of London. I would take whole days and just pick an area on the map to wander. I always felt safe and there was always something around every corner.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

Financially, it was slightly difficult to have to budget, especially with the conversion rate between dollars and pounds. I also struggled with keeping motivated with my studies because there were so many other opportunities to explore.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

The biggest transformation that most of us made when we were in London was looking like we were actual Londoners. For example, when we first started living in London, we were obviously tourists. After a few weeks, we started to notice things about how people behave. When one takes the bus or tube, it is customary to avoid making eye contact with strangers and talking is discouraged. At first, we thought it was weird, verging on rude. Eventually we realized Brits do that because chatty Italians or French children make the ride feel longer and, frankly, once you are accustomed to quiet rides, it is annoying having to listen to others.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

I would highly advise taking advantage of pubs. I am not advocating getting drunk or even drinking alcohol, but in the United Kingdom, the pub is the center of everything. Never say no to a friend asking to go to a pub because pubs are where friendships are formed.

How has studying abroad affected your personal development?

Personally, studying abroad has made me grow up in ways in which I never anticipated. I have become more open to other cultures and can problem solve like never before. I also feel comfortable navigating a city, airport, or train station. Studying abroad also has made me realize how lucky I am to have come from Central New York and how much beauty there is home, as well as abroad.


Alexis Pellerin

Alexis Pellerin

International Studies/ Spanish Major, Alicante, Spain

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I was encouraged to for both my majors of Spanish and International Studies. I also wanted to study abroad to improve my Spanish and to travel.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Once you finish college, traveling abroad is more expensive and you won’t get the experience of living with a family and getting to know the culture. 

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

My most memorable experience was that being there for a year I had the unique opportunity of actually becoming part of my Spanish family and forming relationships with them for life. Visiting is encouraged and I miss them and we write and talk via Skype. 

What was your first week like abroad?

It was tough and I had a headache for two weeks straight. Adjusting to a different lifestyle and another language was hard, but I got used to it and now that I'm back, I miss it.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

I was homesick. The reason it was so bad for me was because I got sick on the plane over and was sick for two weeks. I even had to go to the hospital three times. Thankfully, I went over early with my mom and I wasn’t alone in a foreign country. Also, the CIEE Alicante staff are the best people to have in a study abroad program.

Tell us two or three things that help us understand how you felt living in the city where you chose to study.

Alicante, Spain is on the Mediterranean Coast. There is a unique combination of beach, desert and mountains there. You don’t hear much English in Spain because they don’t learn much of it and they have pride for their language. But the people are friendly and there is a lot of people watching. It’s not like American cities with tall buildings everywhere and lots of cars. In fact, there aren’t that many cars on the road. The bus system is cheap and is the main mode of transportation.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

Don’t take the time for granted because it goes by faster than you could ever imagine. If you are learning a new language, go full into learning it because you won’t get the opportunity again. Even if you miss English, don’t let it be your primary language because you won’t learn anything. 


Michele Rochford

Michele Rochford

Communication Major, Sydney, Australia

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I had never really left the country, so I wanted to branch out and see what the world has to offer. Australia and Fiji did just that.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

As cliche as it sounds, studying abroad truly does change your life. The people, the places, and schooling are things that you will never forget.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

Let’s be honest, we’d be here all day if I had to fully answer that question! The host family in Fiji, the views in both Fiji and Australia, walking in and around the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, the zoos, the accents, and of course, the people who I shared my entire experience with. They will forever be my life-long friends.

What was your first week like abroad?

I definitely was nervous considering I was going to a school that was 16,000 miles away from home, with people whom I had never met before. However, it was totally fine, but Australian schooling is 10x harder than it is here at Fisher!

Tell us two or three things that help us understand how you felt living in the city where you chose to study.

1.) The fact that we got to live in the village where the Olympians lived back in 2000 was unreal (besides the black mold). 2.) We were within 30 minutes or so from Sydney, and they had an awesome transportation system. 3.) I’ve always wanted to go to Sydney, Australia, and the fact that I studied and lived there for 5 months still amazes me. The experience went by way too fast.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

Pack light, don’t live in the Macquarie East Village (black mold), manage your money wisely, and do everything you possibly can while you’re there! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most, so you have to live it up while you can!


Elise Swackhamer

Elise Swackhamer

Management Major, Limerick, Ireland

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because I knew it’d be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and there was no better time than now to travel the world. It is such a great opportunity to further my personal and academic growth, I couldn’t pass it up.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

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

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

My most memorable experience while studying abroad was the Friday nights I spent with my roommates from all over the world. I had a male and female French roommate, a male Austrian roommate, a girl from South Korea, a Canadian girl, an Irish girl, and an American girl. We tried every Friday to spend quality time together and occasionally would invite other friends from Spain and Germany over. It didn’t matter what we were doing, either having movie or game night, the laughs we shared those nights I will cherish forever.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

The biggest obstacle I had to face while abroad was making sure to always keep an open mind and let go of all the stereotypes I had developed over the years. I found that I learned a lot more from this experience when I listened with an open mind and I feel much richer from being able to do so.

Describe one or two sights, sounds, or smells that help us understand what your daily experience was like while you were abroad.

Green everywhere! It was almost a constant smell like it had just rained, even if it hadn’t rained all day. On days it did rain though, you’d have a huge rainbow to look at on your way to class. Everything felt so stress-free and peaceful in Ireland.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

My advice for potential students would be to always keep an open mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first went over to Ireland, but I learned so much about myself while being abroad. I made sure to try all different types of food, even if I didn’t think I’d like it, and most of the time I did enjoy it. Make sure you leave your comfort zone and branch out to meet new friends. The diversity of friends I made has had the greatest impact on me; the changes I’ve made to my life because of those friends cannot be replaced.


Erin Webb

Erin Webb

Nursing Major, Limerick, Ireland

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I have always been a person who wants to try new things and I love being independent. The idea of exploring a new place foreign to most people thrilled me. I knew it was a great opportunity and it was a chance I would never have again in my life.

If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?

You will never get this chance again. The opportunities and experiences I was presented with were things I could never have dreamed of doing in my life. I stood on the highest peak in the Alps and I was able to skydive over the rolling green hills and countryside of Ireland. These things, along with much more that I did while abroad, are chances I would never be presented with staying in the United States.

What was your most memorable experience while studying abroad?

My most memorable experience abroad was the opportunity to backpack across Europe for a few weeks. I took trains from country to country and walked everywhere else. I was able to make it to a total of 11 countries. I got to experience a variety of languages, cultures, ethnicities, and ways of life while having the time of my life.

What was your first week like abroad?

My first week was very overwhelming for a few different reasons. I went without knowing anyone so I was a bit anxious about meeting new people in a place that was completely foreign to me. I was unsure about what to expect. However, once I got situated and met the Irish kids I was living with, I had the time of my life meeting people. It was so entertaining to try and figure out how things got done in Ireland and how the people functioned from day to day. We got settled into our apartments, explored the city, and tested out the beer in the pubs on campus.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?

The biggest obstacle while being abroad was probably having to change certain aspects of my lifestyle. If you are used to living a specific way and have a specific routine for your entire life, it makes it difficult to change and tweak it in little ways in order to fit into a different society. However, I quickly picked up on the style of living and began to easily assimilate into the everyday life of the culture.

Tell us two or three things that help us understand how you felt living in the city where you chose to study.

While living in Limerick, Ireland, I felt comfortable. It is a smaller location so it is not overwhelming and it is not too far off from a smaller city in the United States. The people there were all so welcoming and warming and they made me feel like I had found a place away from home. It was also right on the river so it was very calming. Limerick also made me feel like a normal college student that belonged there. There isn’t much to the city itself, and most of the population is college students. It was very fun to live there, experience the nightlife, and make new friends from the people I met from week to week.

What advice would you give to students who are about to participate in this program?

I would advise people to take any opportunity they are given. This chance is once in a lifetime and most likely will never happen again. It is okay to come home broke; it will be worth it. Or it is okay to live off a tiny budget. Half the time that’s what makes the experience so memorable. You need to be open to change and open to new ideas and go into the experience with the mindset of wanting to be adventurous.


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