2021-22 International Programs Student Ambassadors

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UF in Dublin


Taylor Blais

Taylor Blais

Email Taylor
Term Abroad: Summer 2019
Major: Accounting
Specialty: Traveling on a budget, weekend activities/day trips, best coffee shops, other countries to visit
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway was that accounting is the perfect field for me. Prior to studying abroad, I was unsure if accounting was the best major for me, but I came to really enjoy it after my internship.

 

I studied abroad because…
the opportunity to intern in another country was too great to pass up!

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
funding the trip, but I knew that it was a rare opportunity and so I made it work.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I made tacos for dinner for two months straight, and I would always have a cup of cookie dough ice cream for dessert.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Marion Square Park. I would take naps there on my lunch break and they had a fantastic food market on Wednesdays.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
I got to ride a tandem bike through Phoenix Park, and it was much harder than I expected!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
I dumped my entire meal on my lap and then proceeded to drop my phone in a toilet at a restaurant the first evening we arrived in Dublin after I had just met all of my roommates.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
They don’t use top sheets on the beds in Ireland and I came to like that a lot, so I no longer use a top sheet on my bed in the US.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
getting used to the opposite way of traffic. Once I finally got used to looking the opposite way to cross the street, I had to reverse my mentality all over again when I got back to the US.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how much I learned in many different areas such as financial independence, cultural awareness, and various accounting tasks.

My last bit of advice:
Be open to stepping outside your comfort zone!

Bonnie Goo

Email Bonnie
Term Abroad: Fall 2021
Major: Marketing
Specialty: Restaurants/food, making friends, fun things to do
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway from study abroad is how special of an experience it is! It is so important to see the world because you learn so much about other people and cultures, as well as yourself!

I studied abroad because…
I knew I wanted to study abroad ever since high school. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully immerse oneself in another culture while having support from the universities as a student. I also knew it was an experience that would challenge me to grow!

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
definitely the pandemic. Everything was really up in the air – I wasn’t sure what the restrictions would be like, if the borders would close, or if the program itself would get canceled.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
sandwiches and pastries! And I tried to eat a lot of fruit too.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Grafton Street! It’s a busy shopping street but its one of my favorites because there was always live music. Also, they decorated the entire street with Christmas lights for the holidays, and it was truly magical!

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
I got to visit my friend’s family in Donegal and it was one of the most beautiful places! We went to the beach, explored Letterkenny, and traveled to Derry for Halloween.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad…
going on a school trip to this adventure center in Connemara. We were surrounded by mountains and rivers and it was beautiful. We hiked, played in mud, kayaked, and made special friendships.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Walking! And being more mindful of and reducing my food waste (my internship was with an organization that tackled food waste). I also almost held out my hand for the bus in Gainesville several times!

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
toward the end of my trip…feeling homesick and missing Gainesville! Something that really helped was being honest about my feelings and texting/calling my friends and family.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how easy it was to make friends! That was something I was most worried about but I ended up making amazing and lifelong friendships.

My last bit of advice:
Step out of your comfort zone! You’re in a new country, so it can seem super intimidating, but I promise it’s worth it!

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UF in Europe


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UF in London


Julia La Neve

Julia La Neve (VP External Affairs - 2021-2022)

Email Julia
Term Abroad: Spring 2020
Major: Marketing
Specialty: Weekend trips, restaurants/food
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway was becoming independent. Studying abroad pushed me far out of my comfort zones. When you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, you’re forced to make new friends, face challenges, and explore. I built confidence and that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

I studied abroad to…
experience what it was like to fully immerse myself in another culture, as opposed to just visiting for vacation. I wanted to explore, learning about the locals and their lifestyle, while simultaneously learning about myself.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
My biggest challenge before studying abroad was committing to change. I’m originally from out of state, so coming to UF was already a big adjustment for me. I was afraid to make another big leap so soon, but it definitely paid off.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
Often times, on the way back from class in the morning, I would stop at this little sandwich shop and get scrambled eggs on a baguette for breakfast. It was super cheap and they had the most incredible baguettes.

My favorite spot in my host city:
My favorite spot in London was Camden Market. This was a bunch of shops and stands located in what used to be stables with local vendors selling fashion, food, art, and more. Camden Market was my favorite spot because it was just a great place to wander around and there was something for everyone. I loved talking to the different vendors and seeing the different things they made or are selling.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
One of the coolest things I got to experience was touring Wembley Stadium with my Principles of Marketing class. We got to see the locker room, the conference room, the stadium itself, and more.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
Hostels were always a bit strange, but fun nonetheless! I was with some girlfriends for Valentine’s Day Weekend in Stockholm and one of the guys staying in our room at the hostel bought us cinnamon buns for Valentine’s day. It was sweet but a bit bizarre.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
A habit I picked up was trying to take trips on weekends, whether that be to other places in Europe or even day trips within the UK, such as going to the White Cliffs of Dover.

What I found most challenging while abroad:
While abroad, I found it most difficult to adjust at first. It was complex learning about how the tube and the buses work and making sure I was going to the right location. It really just took time to understand and got easier the more I used the tube and learned my way around a bit more.

What surprised me most about study abroad:
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of field trips we went on for our classes. It was really intriguing to take these trips and see things firsthand, as opposed to many of the large lecture halls at UF.

My last bit of advice:
Take advantage of every opportunity and don’t be hesitant. Some of my best experiences were due to just being spontaneous. With that being said, also do some research and make it a point to get to the places you really want to go because you never know when your program might get cut short.

Breanna ('Bre') Pina

Email Bre
Term Abroad: Fall 2021
Major: Marketing
Specialty: Restaurants/food, as well as traveling!
Takeaway: The world is filled with so many exciting opportunities, and I can’t wait to explore them more in the future.

I studied abroad because…
I wanted the chance to get to know a country beyond a vacation or holiday, and this was the perfect opportunity to do that!

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
the possibility of travel restrictions because of COVID but everyone was super helpful in keeping us updated!

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I usually cooked for myself in the mornings, but most professors give breaks during their classes and I would go to one of the cafes and get either a tea or a coffee!

My favorite spot in my host city:
I loved Piccadilly Circus! It reminds me a bit of New York City in its vibe, but it was my favorite spot in the city because there were always new places to uncover, whether it be a place to eat or a spot to just relax.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
We got to go to the Dune movie premiere! Being in London, there are always events to go to and things to experience – you just have to be on the lookout!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
We walked by a window in Amsterdam where a wedding was happening inside – not sure if it was the ceremony or the reception, but everyone inside turned and looked because it was dark and they could easily see us. Completely unintentional but we always laugh thinking about it!

A habit I picked up while abroad:
As cliché as it might sound, London really made me fall in love with tea and football (soccer)!

What I found most challenging while abroad:
One thing that took time getting used to was the idea that traffic comes from the other direction. What I’d usually do at first is wait for someone else to walk across, but after a few weeks, it was completely natural to look to the right to look for cars.

What surprised me most about study abroad…
how quickly I fell in love with London. Our group got to travel a bit, and while every place we visited was amazing, when we got off the tube at our station, there was always a sense of relief and familiarity.

My last bit of advice:
Do it! It may seem daunting to be in another place for a stretch of time, but I know that the four months I was abroad was the most exciting and rewarding time of my life! Getting to meet new people and get to know another way of living has been an opportunity I would never take back.

Kayla Stellabotte

Email Kayla
Term Abroad: Fall 2021
Major: Finance
Specialty: Meeting locals, travelling around the UK and other places in Europe
Takeaway: There are so many different cultures and life experiences out there! We can learn a lot from traveling ourselves, and we can also learn a lot from the people we meet along the way.

I studied abroad to…
challenge my own assumptions about similarities and differences that the U.S. and U.K. share, and I wanted to experience a way of life that was different from my own!

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
Trying to figure out COVID restrictions leading up to the program felt daunting at times, but it all worked out in the end.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I loved trying the diverse restaurants around the city, but grocery stores such as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose never failed to supply the best crumpets.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
a beautiful garden in Hyde Park, which was within walking distance from our accommodation. It was so peaceful to go there on my morning runs and watch the birds or stand by the river.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
I got the opportunity to go to a women’s Arsenal football game. It was really cool to watch the players and participate in the chants!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
My friends and I accidentally “crashed” a wedding while visiting Amsterdam. We were on the side of the road and walked by some windows. These windows were right behind where the bride and groom were sitting, so needless to say we made a lot of awkward eye contact with the other guests!

A habit I picked up while abroad:
We got used to walking everywhere and learning how to use the Underground (called ‘the Tube’). I loved living in a big city and being able to get to some of the most famous sights in London without even having to drive a car!

What I found most challenging while abroad:
It was easy to get homesick at times, especially after being away from friends and family for 3+ months. I made sure to find a balance of staying connected with people at home, while also getting out of my comfort zone and spending time with new people while abroad.

What surprised me most about study abroad:
I made a lot of British friends through the church group I joined while abroad and was surprised by some of the things we had in common. I still keep in touch with them and definitely want to come back to visit!

My last bit of advice:
Go in to your study abroad with an open mind and a kind heart! Be willing to meet new people and put yourself out there. Befriend the other students on your program because chances are, they might become some of your best friends!

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UF in Madrid


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UF in Paris


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UF in Rome


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UF in South Korea


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Business Exchanges



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Recent IPSA Alumni

Ginny Dezern

Ginny Dezern

Major/Minors: Marketing/Environmental Science & Leadership
Takeaway: Every situation presented to you is an opportunity to grow! Although my summer was far different than I thought it would be, I still was able to meet great people and learn about their lives and culture!

Lauren Fiori

Lauren Fiori - UF in London

Term Abroad: Spring 2020
Major/Minor: Finance/Real Estate
Specialty: Planning weekend trips, UK culture, and shopping!
Takeaway: Studying abroad, even with the unprecedented pandemic, was the best experience of my life. Adapting to a new culture and stepping out of my comfort zone helped me gain a better understanding of myself and the world around me!

Sarah Pollock

Sarah Pollock - UF in London

Term Abroad: Spring 2020
Major/Minor: Information Systems/Sustainability Studies
Specialty: Restaurants/food, planning trips and itineraries, traveling on a budget
Takeaway: My study abroad experience made me a lot more independent, resourceful, and confident in myself than ever before. It taught me a lot of really essential life skills like how to problem solve, communicate, make friends, navigate, plan things for myself, and budget. I also learned that your experience will be exactly what you make of it, and a positive, adaptable, and even spontaneous mindset even in difficulties can make a huge difference in how you perceive your own time abroad.

Omar Howard

Omar Howard - UF in London & UF in Madrid

Terms Abroad: Spring 2020 & Spring 2018
Major/Minor: Public Relations/Spanish
Specialty: Traveling on a budget, meeting locals, hip cafés and restaurants
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway from my time abroad is to travel more and learn more. That is how the world becomes more interconnected and understanding; by traveling to other countries, learning their customs, and accepting what differences there may be, we are able to grow and become more open-minded.

Isabel Espinal

Isabel Espinal - UF in Madrid

Term Abroad: Spring 2020
Major/Minor: Business Administration – General Studies/Entrepreneurship
Specialty: Cultural events and meeting locals.
Takeaway: My biggest take-away was the people I met and the places I visited.

Markovic, Sandra

Sandra Markovic - Exchange (Hochschule Osnabrück – University of Applied Sciences)

Major: Information Systems
Specialty: Traveling on a budget, cute cafés
Takeaway: It was such a great and an unforgettable experience that challenged me on so many levels but also helped me immensely become a more mature and independent person. I improved my German, met some great friends from all over the world, did an internship, and all of these during a global pandemic.

Sydney Patterson

Sydney Patterson (External Affairs Co-Chair - 2021-2022)

Terms Abroad: Spring 2020 (Business Exchange at Hochschule Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences), Fall 2019 (CALS Exchange at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn), & Summer 2019 (UF in Vietnam)
Major/Minors: International Studies (Europe)/Business Administration, Spanish, & German
Specialty: Learning a new language, meeting locals and budget travel, especially when it comes to travel points.
Takeaway: My biggest take away from my study abroad experience is that people, even though they make come from drastically different cultures and societies, are more similar than you think.