Fisher Students Find Home Away From Fisher While Studying Abroad
This semester, 34 St. John Fisher College students are studying abroad in countries including England, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Ireland, France, and South Africa. Many have found a home away from their Fisher home, and have made memories that will last a lifetime. We spoke with four of those students to find out more about their experience from afar.
Nicole Henry, communication/journalism major, is currently studying at the University of Limerick in Ireland, and accounting major Daniel Agan is at the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) in London, England. Taylor Ramsey and Gabrielle Dattellas, both education majors, are studying together at the AIFS in Florence, Italy.
Q: What made you choose the program you are currently enrolled in abroad?
Nicole Henry in Limerick, Ireland.
Henry: “Beannachtaí ó Éirinn (Greetings from Ireland)! Since high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I always thought that I would end up in London, and even based part of my college search on schools that offered study abroad programs to London. However, when I actually began my research to study abroad last year, I ultimately decided on Ireland. To start, my favorite color is green, so where better to study than the Emerald Isle, right? Moreover, I have always heard that the culture and the people are so kind and open that Ireland seemed like the right fit for me.”
Agan: “Overall, AIFS was the best fit for my major and the classes that I needed to take. Also, I spent much of my time before I made my final decision looking at reviews. It definitely helped that everyone had great things to say about this particular program!”
Ramsey: “I studied abroad to experience something new. I absolutely love Fisher, but I know I can get caught up in the small college experience. Italy has given me a great option to see the world. Before coming here, I heard nothing but great things about Italy, and its central location gave me the option to travel around Europe. I also chose to study in Italy to experience a new culture.”
Dattellas: “I have always wanted to travel to Europe, especially Italy because it is where my family originated from. I wanted to experience a new culture and way of life to broaden my prospective to better understand the values and differences of other people. I have already gained so much more respect for others, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude every day for what I am blessed with at home. We take a lot for granted. I also studied abroad to experience a more independent and larger day-to-day lifestyle. I love Fisher and my appreciation for the College has definitely grown, but I did not want to miss out on other possibilities and opportunities that a small, local college cannot offer.”
Q: Name three differences between Fisher and the school where you currently are studying.
Henry: “The University of Limerick has almost 11,000 students and the campus is at least twice the size of Fisher. Class sizes are significantly larger than Fisher. The first class I walked into was not in a classroom but a concert hall, and was filled with about 200 students. The structure is different too. The average class meets for a total of three hours per week, but only two of those hours are lectures, and the other hour is spent in tutorials. The student culture is very different - it has a very ‘9-5’ feel, and most things that go on after classes are out for the day are related to one of the on-campus pubs. There are a few very involved clubs, but other than that, you don’t hear about clubs hosting events unless you are a part of them, even if they are open to the rest of the student body (or at a fee).”
Agan: “Classroom sizes! I always thought that the classrooms at Fisher were pretty small. Most of the classrooms here are roughly half of the size of a classroom in Kearney. It is a good thing that there are also far less people in each of my classes! The food is different, and the dining hall on my campus is very small. Usually, there is only one main option for dinner, so the choice is very limited. And while Fisher may seem like a fairly small campus, at my school, there are only two main buildings and they are located on different streets, so it does not look anything like a typical college campus in the states.”
Ramsey and Dattellas: “There are many differences between Fisher and our college in Florence. Most of our classes are lecture-based and offer less interaction in class than at Fisher, but professors are very nice and encourage active learning within the city as well as other countries where we may travel. Also, our classes are longer, but our Fridays are free of classes, giving us further opportunities for travel or to spend time within the City of Florence. Many classes are not held in the classroom, but in historical buildings, museums, churches, piazzas, restaurants, and local landmarks. Although it’s difficult to focus on school in general with the beauties of Florence outside your window, the school constructs the classes in a way that connects to the overseas experience, making it more enjoyable. Nonetheless, we miss the staff and professors at Fisher and look forward to coming back in the fall.”
Q: Are you happy you made the decision to study abroad?
Henry: “I am absolutely happy that I decided to study abroad. I have met so many wonderful people -from the states, Europe, and Ireland, and I have experienced traveling in another country and really getting out there doing things I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Agan: “Studying abroad has absolutely been the best experience of my life thus far. I do not think there is any possible way that I could ever regret studying abroad. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am so lucky that I am able to experience this. I would recommend it to anybody that has the chance!”
Dan Agan in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Ramsey and Dattellas: “YES! We both love this experience and would not give it up for anything. We chose to live in a homestay together with an Italian family, and are extremely grateful to have met such wonderful people. We live with our host mother, and her housekeepers, who both make us feel at home and comfortable in Italy, as we are so far away. The opportunity to travel around the world has been breathtaking. We have been to (and plan to travel to) Switzerland, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Sicily, Amalfi Coast, Island of Elba, Greece, the French Riviera, and Germany. Without this experience, the possibility to travel to all these places would have been more difficult. We have been very blessed to have come into contact with so many new cultures and different ways of life.”
Q: Do you have any fun stories from experiences you've had in the country you are in? Have you done anything adventurous - skydiving, traveling, etc.?
Henry: “My favorite part of traveling around Ireland has definitely been seeing and exploring the landscape. One weekend, we went to Killarney in Co. Kerry and spent the majority of the weekend exploring the Killarney National Park. We visited a castle, a waterfall, two lakes, an abbey, and a mansion, but it wasn’t until the end of the weekend that we learned that park was some 25,000 acres! We walked close to 10 miles that weekend and didn’t come close to seeing even one-third of the park. We also went on a tour through Co. Clare. We touched the Atlantic Ocean in Lahinch (crazy to think I’ve touched both sides of it!), walked through Aillwee Cave, and toured The Burren - the rocky landscape that is famous to the postcards. I’ve also really enjoyed exploring the area. So far, I’ve been to two refurbished castles, and have climbed the two ruins that are within a mile of campus. It’s exciting to start out on a walk and not know exactly where you are going - only a general direction - and then to find this terribly old and sad looking structure that looks as if it belongs in another era. Castle hunting has definitely been a weekend adventure more than once! My favorite weekend was our trip to London - getting to explore and see all the sights...incredible!”
Agan: “London is a city filled with so much to do. I have met some great people in my time here so far. Each day brings a new adventure. I have been having a blast exploring the city, going to pubs, and seeing everything that London has to offer. It is also very easy to travel, and I have definitely done my fair share! I have been to Paris, Rome, Prague, and Amsterdam so far. I will also be going to Barcelona and Wales later on in the semester. I am planning on skydiving in England before the semester is over!”
Ramsey and Dattellas: “Since we’ve been in Italy, we have gone to numerous cooking classes, endless wine tastings, and soccer games. Each experience is different than the other and it is so much fun to learn about the culture here. Our late-night ‘Fishbowl’ in Italy is going to the Secret Bakery. There are six secret bakeries spread around Florence, and each is a building where mass quantities of baked goods like croissants, doughnuts, and pizza are made. After 1:00 a.m., people start to line up outside the doors. You do a light knock, and when the door is opened you order solely in Italian. A man comes back with fresh, hot goodies for only 1 euro! We’ve also done a lot of traveling, both around Italy as well as to different countries. Our first weekend trip was to Switzerland. To our surprise, we were persuaded to jump off of a cliff 300 feet into a canyon in the middle of the Swiss Alps!”
Q: Are you looking forward to coming back to Fisher? Name one thing you've missed while you've been away this semester.
Henry: “As much as I am completely enjoying my time in Ireland, I am looking forward to my return to Fisher. I have missed my friends and the community much more than I thought I would. At Fisher, there was something going on all the time - an SAB event, Colleges Against Cancer, or just hanging out in the Campus Center. While there are events here, many are during the day, as the night life culture is very different. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the community that, over the past two and half years, has turned into a second home.”
Agan: “I am definitely looking forward to coming back to Fisher. I have really missed my Fisher family. It is going to be great to be reunited with everyone. For me, I cannot wait to have the Fisher food! I have really missed it since being in London. The food in our dining hall in London does not even compare to the food at Fisher! It will be great to be reunited with everyone.”
Ramsey and Dattellas: “We both absolutely love Italy and don’t want to leave, but we are definitely excited to come back to Fisher and miss many things we never knew we would! We miss omelets at brunch, because there is no such thing as an American breakfast in Italy. We also miss the constant activity and people all around campus, as our campus here is just a building in the city.”
Fisher students (from front) Sarah Fields, Nicole Henry, Rebecca Clark, and Jessica Frey crossing Abbey Road in London.