2023-2024 International Programs Student Ambassadors

Fall 2023 Office Hours

Please email individual IPSAs for office hour availability.

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UF in Dublin


Luxi Cao

Luxi Cao

Email Luxi
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Wuxi, China
Major: Marketing
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Restaurants/food
Takeaway: Friendships and internship experience

I studied abroad because…
I [wanted to] experience different cultures, broaden my horizons, and develop an open mindset.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
packing for a near three-month stay. The difficulty in getting a visa because of my international student status almost made me give up on this valuable experience.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
A standard Irish breakfast includes bacon, sausage, baked beans, eggs, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and maybe some boiled potatoes. The Guinness and apple cider there are also great. With food from all over the world in Dublin, the only problem for me [was] to decide which one to dine in.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Howth. A double-decker bus ride of nearly an hour from the center of town takes you to the top of the Howth Hill, where a walk along the cliffs reveals the sea, flowers, and puppies. All the way to the town center, you can taste fish and chips and ice cream.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
Bray Air Display Show. I saw the iconic and historic Lancaster, Spitfire, and Hurricane fly in formation. The spectacular Royal Jordanian Falcons aerobatic team return[ed] all the way from the West Asian Kingdom, too.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
I kiss[ed] the wall of a castle (it will bring luck as the people say).

A habit I picked up while abroad:
It is a very strange habit: eating protein bars. Because the best friend I know in Ireland is addicted to it.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
balancing studies, internships, and travel. I set up lists for myself to remind me of when my assignments [were] due, and it’s important to plan ahead.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how much the Irish love to smoke, drink, and the fact that they built a plaza for President Obama.

My last bit of advice:
Don’t be afraid; everything will be easy after you take the first step.

Edward Gerdts

Edward Gerdts

Email Edward
Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: Basking Ridge, NJ
Major: Finance
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Traveling on a budget, outdoor activities
Takeaway: Feeling of independence and responsibility

 

I studied abroad because…
I wanted to…not only gain professional intern experience but also to immerse myself in another culture. I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and seek new experiences.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
that I was forfeiting a summer worth of working and making money for another year of college. I made a decent amount of money the year before and thought it would be difficult to not make any money for the summer.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
If I went out, a typical breakfast was an Irish breakfast or pub food for lunch and dinner. However, there are many options in Ireland that are not pub food. When eating at home I usually had a pastry for breakfast and chicken/pizza/vegetables for lunch and dinner.

My favorite spot in my host city:
Smithfield was a great area to look for food and for shopping, and Camden Street was a great place to go out on the weekends. Also, St. Stephen’s Green Park was a really pretty area to walk around.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
The Euro was equal to the dollar while we were abroad, which was the first time in 20 years that had happened.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad was…
the very last night before the program ended, where almost everyone from our UF in Dublin program got together and went out to celebrate the last 10 weeks.

A habit I picked up while abroad was…
waking up earlier than I normally do. There was a lot of days where I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted which in a way helped me get out of my habit of sleeping in at home.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
making good use of my time. It is a great idea to plan ahead of certain places you would like to see abroad, or even directly in Ireland. By asking around, I got an idea of different places people were going and would jump in on trips whenever I could.

What surprised me most about study abroad:
The feeling of independence was so much different than I thought it would be – I never felt restricted by school/work and felt a lot more open to new experiences and ideas.

My last bit of advice:
If you even have a thought of studying abroad, do it. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would definitely do it again.

Jyoti Kabra

Jyoti Kabra

Email Jyoti
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Edison, NJ
Major: Information Systems Minor: Economics
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Outdoor activities in Dublin, traveling around Ireland and Europe, restaurants/food
Takeaway: Study abroad was one of the best experiences of my life. My 10 weeks in Dublin shaped me into a more confident and independent person, and changed me in the best way possible. It made me realize the importance of escaping the bubble that we live in and experiencing the world for ourselves.

I studied abroad because…
being an out-of-stater Gator, I’ve always embraced the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone. I chose to study abroad in order to expand on that idea and gain a better understanding of the world. I’ve been living in New Jersey my whole life before coming to UF, so I really wanted to challenge and push myself to see how I would be able to adapt to my new surroundings, navigate around a new city, and how that would help me grow both personally and professionally.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
food. Being vegetarian with nut allergies isn’t the most favorable combination, and I was nervous about finding ways to deal with these challenges in a different country. If I had let these concerns come in the way of pursuing this amazing opportunity to study abroad, I would have never known that Europe is far more considerate and accommodating of vegetarians and people with allergies than America. It made me realize that people aren’t even aware of what they’re missing out on by not studying abroad!

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
a bagel with eggs and orange juice for breakfast almost everyday and…a lot of tofu fried rice!

My favorite spot in my host city was…
definitely Phoenix Park. When I went there for the first time, I saw these deer that were the most beautiful animals I had ever seen – they were so friendly and calm and didn’t flinch at all, even when I was less than one foot away from them. It was such a cool experience being that close to wild animals and the park itself was also very beautiful.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
walking through a bog! It was basically a huge muddy wetland but it felt like I was walking on Jello – very weird but very cool!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
I was at my internship, and there was some musician practicing in the garage below our office, and my boss casually said “I think that’s Hozier.” I was just sitting there with my jaw dropped and eyes just wide open, and my boss noticed and told me that Hozier comes to the garage to practice sometimes, and all of his equipment is also stored there. It turns out that it wasn’t Hozier, but my boss took me to see his equipment, and it had his name and signature labeled all over it. It was so cool, and that’s definitely one of the most memorable experiences that I had in Dublin!

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Cooking and working out! I started cooking for myself a lot more in Dublin and also went to the apartment gym almost everyday. You can catch me at Student/SW Rec almost every day of the week now. 😉

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Being homesick was one of the most difficult challenges for me. I had never been away from home for that long and it was definitely not easy. I keep a “one line a day” journal and I found that having that time to journal at the end of the day and reflect on everything really helped me manage my homesickness – it reminded me that this is an experience I’ll be talking about for the rest of my life and I should enjoy every moment and really make the most out of it.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how quickly I got used to living in a different country! I thought it would take me the entire 10 weeks to get adjusted and definitely underestimated my ability to adapt. I ended up learning so much about myself that I never would’ve know if I hadn’t put myself in the situation where I had to deal with these challenges and go abroad.

My last bit of advice:
GO FOR IT! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It’s so important to put yourself in difficult and uncomfortable situations because that’s the only way you’ll be able to grow. That’s what I did, and that’s how I was able to make the most of my experience abroad, so don’t be afraid to go for it!

This photo is a selfie of student ambassador, Javi, in Dublin.

Javi Fernandez

Email Javi
Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: Miami, FL
Major: Information Systems
Term Abroad: Fall 2022
Specialty: Meeting locals or finding something interesting in the city
Takeaway: You can find yourself anywhere in the world, but you have to reach out and take a chance.

The courses I took while abroad were…
I took Irish Life & Culture, International Business, and Management for UF. My favorite was Irish Life and Culture because of our professor’s teaching style and the ancient history of Ireland that was part of the course.

I studied abroad because…
I wanted to experience something different while I was in UF, and I gravitated towards traveling away. I picked Dublin in order to have that fresh experience.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
I had trouble picking and choosing what I would take abroad with me, whether it was clothes or just some items I wanted to have with me.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
A ham and cheese toastie.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Phoenix Park

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
Going to Giant’s Causeway. It was the coolest natural formation I have ever seen.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
I would say it’s staying in Galway for two days. It was the most fun our group had on the trip, and we also went to the Aran Islands – a really interesting historical string of islands off the west coast of Ireland.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
I began to greet people with, “How’s she cutting?”. My boss said it a lot, and my friends began to say it. I just absorbed it after a while.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Finding a good work life balance and dealing with problems I may not have had in the States.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
The people were so kind and helpful to me throughout my time there.

My last bit of advice:
Be open to new experiences and unconventional things. Do everything the program has to offer. If I were to do it again, I would have done more of the activities they offered.

This photo shows Dublin student, Jack Lutz.

Jack Lutz

Email Jake
Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: Mantua, New Jersey
Major: Business Administration
Term Abroad: Summer 2023
Specialty: Traveling on a budget
Takeaway: Integrating yourself into a new place is not that difficult. As long as you immerse yourself in the environment through different experiences, you will be able to integrate yourself seamlessly.

The courses I took while abroad were…
I took International Business, Internship Seminar and Principles of Entrepreneurship. My favorite class was Principles of Entrepreneurship because it opened up my mind to new career paths. Also, every bit of information that I learned was very intriguing and could actually apply to my future, no matter which aspect of business I choose to pursue.

I studied abroad because…
I chose to study abroad because I saw it as the perfect opportunity to discover new places, while also completing coursework that was relevant to my academic career. I was also influenced by my sister who studied abroad in three different countries. I saw how fun her experience was, which made me want to study abroad.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
worrying about not meeting people. I applied to study abroad without knowing anyone that I was going with, and I feared not being able to meet people. However, the program design made it super easy to meet everyone and I ended up meeting some of my best friends!

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
Basil Caesar Salad from Sprout & Co.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Grafton Street

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
the weather. During the first month of so, Dublin was very warm. All of the locals would talk about how lucky we were because Dublin is not usually sunny and warm for more than a few days.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
when everyone in the program went on a pub crawl. We were able to visit mostly all of the famous pubs in Dublin and everyone had a fun time.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
trying to find time to rest. I was always so busy with classes, my internship, and constant travel, so I was very tired at some times. However, as time progressed, I was able to better manage my time to make sure that I was staying on top of my schoolwork, while also leaving time to explore my host city and other places.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how many places I was able to visit and how many things I was able to do. I was abroad for 10 weeks and I was able to explore all of the major cities in Ireland, as well as 5 different countries and more than 15 cities!

My last bit of advice:
My last bit of advice would be to have a budget but know when it is okay to spend more than your budget. When I went abroad, I had a budget made, but quickly realized that everything was going to be much more expensive than I had planned for. With this being said, I definitely ended up spending more than I had budgeted for, but it was 1000% worth it! Every single experience I had was worth the money and it made me realize that money truly comes back, but opportunities do not.

This photo shows student in front of building in Dublin.

Serah Williams

Email Serah
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL
Major: Finance
Term Abroad: Summer 2023
Specialty: Internship, Traveling on a Budget, and nature sights around Ireland
Takeaway: The best way to truly be immersed in another culture is by living, working, or studying abroad. Study abroad also taught me to have more confidence in my abilities and gave me a deeper sense of independence as an individual.

The courses I took while abroad were…
I took Principles of Marketing online through UF, and I took Irish Life and Business, as well as an internship course through Dublin Business School.

I studied abroad to…
gain experience through an international internship and experience a new culture on a deeper level. I also wanted to develop myself professionally and personally by embarking on an experience that would require me to exercise independence and gain confidence.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
Financially, being able to support my ambitions to travel to other places while being abroad. Also, saying goodbye to family and friends for the summer.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
Asian food! Dublin surprisingly had a lot of tasty Asian food places around the city, and my friends and I would always eat Asian food during lunch after class.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
St. Stephen’s Green Park is a beautiful park within the busy city of Dublin, which is a nice place to enjoy a picnic, see swans, or take a nice stroll. Also, Howth, which is a bit outside the city, which had the most spectacular views while hiking, as well as a cute seaside town feel.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
One cool event I got to experience while abroad is doing a hike in Glendalough through the Dublin Business School, where we got to become friends and bond with Irish students.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
On our last night in Dublin before everyone in our cohort went separate ways for their flights the next day, everyone went out and did a pub crawl, and the last song we heard before leaving was “We Are Young” by Fun. It was a bitter-sweet moment of the feeling that the program was ending, but also how special it was for all of us to have shared this experience together over the summer.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Always carrying my umbrella around! In Ireland, you always have to be prepared, and even upon returning to Florida, I still make sure to always have an umbrella on me.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Trying to plan and manage how I would see everything that I wanted to see in a short period of time over summer, while also balancing my internship and school. I wanted to make sure I saw all that I could during my time there, which is why I made sure to plan my weekend travel plans far in advance.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
How much I changed as a person by the end of it. I became much more fearless, and traveled to all these different countries with friends, and for the most part it turned out to not be that difficult. Also, in Ireland, they have foxes that run around like normal at night.

My last bit of advice:
Do not graduate without doing a study abroad program. It has truly been the best experience of my life, in which you are able to develop yourself personally and professionally. Also, if you are planning to do an internship while abroad, definitely be specific on your internship application about what you want and don’t want. Lastly, apply for any and all scholarships available! It goes a long way when you are trying to be financially responsible while abroad.

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UF in London


Kayla Stellabotte

Kayla Stellabotte

Email Kayla
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Lehigh Valley, PA
Major: Finance
Term Abroad: Fall 2021
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!

Alex Obman

Alex Obman - Leadership Team

Email Alex
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Clearwater, FL
Major: History
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Traveling on a budget, food, meeting locals
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway from the UF in London program was discerning that I wanted to go to Law School through my internship at a financial law firm.

I studied abroad to…
experience a new place and culture and work on my professional skills through the internship.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
I have anxiety, and I was really nervous about going somewhere new for three months without my closest friends. However, something that helped me was reaching out to some people that I knew were going on the trip.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I would get Pret or Paul’s for breakfast almost daily. For lunch during the internship I would go to a falafel or Vietnamese restaurant with my co-workers. This ended up being the easiest way to bond with my co-workers and the other interns from London that I was working with. For dinner I would go to Dishoom, an Indian restaurant, or Dozo, a sushi place next to the flat. Lastly, for dessert my flatmates and I would go to Oddono’s gelato. They had the best gelato and it was down the street from the flat and very inexpensive!

My favorite spot in my host city:
I loved Hyde Park because of the peacefulness it offered from the hustle and bustle of the city. Some of my favorite memories are biking through the park or reading on a picnic blanket.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
I attended the Platinum Jubilee, and it was a once in a lifetime experience. My friends and I set up a picnic blanket and some snacks for lunch. It was a great moment to see the royal family and some British patriotism.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
This is not exactly strange, but one of my most memorable moments was deciding last minute to queue for Wimbledon tennis tickets. I found the concept of queuing for tickets interesting, and we got up at 6am to get in line. I have pictures of my friends and I sleeping on a picnic blanket for hours, waiting for the line to move. However, once we got into the stadium we were able to get front row seats on one of the smaller courts!

A habit I picked up while abroad:
While abroad I developed my sense of direction. Usually when people describe me, directionally challenged comes up. In fact, two summers ago when I was in NYC, I got lost on the subway and ended up in Queens instead of Soho. However, the Tube in London was very easy to master, and I found myself knowing how to get places without using Google Maps. One of my proudest moments was helping a tourist figure out if they were on the right train.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
living without air-conditioning during one of the heatwaves. It definitely was one of the biggest culture shocks I experienced, and my roommates and I got two fans, which made it more bearable. However, it was an important aspect of acclimating, as the majority of people do not have an air conditioning unit.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how much I would love London and the friends that I made there in the program and through my internship. I still keep in touch with my co-workers and meet up with my friends from the UF in London program.

My last bit of advice:
My greatest advice would be to go for it. The UF in London program is a once in a lifetime experience. You’ll make new friends, travel to amazing places, eat great food, and learn new things.

This photo shows student ambassador, Ceinwyn, in front of Big Ben in London.

Ceinwyn Maes

Email Ceinwyn
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Major: Finance
Term Abroad: Summer 2023
Specialty: Food, public transport, traveling on a budget
Takeaway: There is so much more to explore in the world than we realize! Allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone, as it will broaden your perspective, increase your confidence and self-reliance, and allow you to gain a better understanding of our world.

The courses I took while abroad were…
While abroad, I took Marketing and British Life & Business. Of the two, British Life & Business was my favorite because it provided me with unique insights into the differences between British and American culture and way of life. I also loved our weekly field trips, which took us to various parts of London, allowing me to explore areas I would not have otherwise discovered on my own. I also gained a deeper understanding of how businesses operate in the UK, which was very interesting!

I studied abroad because…
I was intrigued by the opportunity to immerse myself in a new environment and a different culture. Studying abroad offers a unique opportunity to step out of one’s comfort zone, gain global awareness, and grow personally and professionally.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
Ensuring I had everything I would need packed. While I knew I had to bring all the necessary documents, such as my visa and FIE records, I was not sure if I was bringing the right clothes or if I was bringing too much. I did not want to leave anything behind as I was gone for three months.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
Pasta

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Hyde Park

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
I got to go to Wimbledon. I have always enjoyed watching tennis, so going to one of the biggest tennis events in the world was surreal and something I will never forget!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
One of the most memorable experiences I had abroad was while I was walking around and exploring London with my friends. It was a great way to get to know my new friends better and see everything the city has to offer. We learned how to use public transport and found some really cool places together.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Going to a local coffee shop or bakery to study or hang out with friends.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Homesickness was challenging as I had not seen my parents the entire spring semester, went home for about week, and went away for another 3 months. Therefore, I missed my family a lot while in London.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
I was surprised by the friendships I made while abroad. While I expected to meet new people, I was pleasantly surprised by the strong bonds I made. I can confidently say that the people I met are some of my closest friends, and I am sure I will stay connected to them for the rest of my life.

My last bit of advice:
Embrace the adventure, and don’t hesitate to say “yes”. Time will fly by, so be open to all the opportunities that come to you, have an open mind, and be willing to try new things. Some of the best experiences in life are those that are unplanned. They also make for some of the best memories.

This photo is of a student, Nadia, standing in front of the Gator Globe.

Nadia Matouka

Email Nadia
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Major: Marketing
Term Abroad: Summer 2023
Specialty: Travel recommendations/tips, meeting locals, cuisine, how to make the most of your time abroad
Takeaway: Studying abroad transformed my perception of the world and grew my sense of confidence, independence, and self-awareness. There’s a lot of unique individuals and unimaginable opportunities in the world waiting to be discovered, you just have to put yourself out there!

The courses I took while abroad were…
International Trade, Internship Course, & British Life and Business. My favorite was British life and Business because we went on tours and learned interesting facts about London which made me appreciate and understand the city more.

I studied abroad because…
I have always loved traveling out of the country but wanted to truly experience a life outside of my usual routine. I wanted to face challenges in order to grow and I chose London because it’s a known as “the melting pot” and is full of creative and business-minded individuals.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
I was a little bit anxious about the living situation. I like to cook, and knowing I’d be sharing a small kitchen with 12-14 people sounded a bit chaotic. I’m also a light sleeper when trying to fall asleep and wasn’t sure how loud it would be at night, but it all ended up working out perfectly.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
I’d typically cook most of my meals (omelets, yogurt bowls, prawns, chicken salads) because the produce and meat at the grocery stores were really fresh and high quality. At work, I’d stop and get a Tesco or Sainsbury’s meal deal if I didn’t have time to meal prep, which was usually some sort of bowl and a protein bar. I also loved exploring food markets with my friends because we’d all get a different cuisine and share them.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
I loved going to Hyde Park to escape the city life and relax. Some of my favorite evenings were spent there playing soccer, going for a run, or having a picnic and enjoying the scenery and dogs running around.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
I had the chance to attend the Wimbledon Championships, it was definitely a once in a life-time opportunity and a really neat experience, especially because I enjoy tennis. Waking up at 4 am to wait in the queue with everyone in the flat was absolutely worth it.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
The second to last weekend abroad my friends and I went on the program’s Wales Trip. We all took the train to Wales and stayed at a pretty remote summer camp-like cabin venture. There was no cell service except for in the common room/kitchen and we stayed in giant bunkbeds. We went on excursions like hiking, coasteering, and kayaking and had all our meals together. It felt like an escape from reality and in the evenings, we played pool, cards, volleyball, or just sat by the fire and talked. There were even cows outside. It was the most wholesome and memorable weekend with all the friends I had gotten close with.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
I started managing my time better and really prioritized tasks to have more free time to explore London. I’d literally plan my day in my notes app by the quarter hour to stay on track with my schedule. I felt more productive and less stressed knowing I was making the most of my time abroad and have been more intentional with how I spend my time since being back home.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Figuring out weekend travel plans especially because plane tickets were really expensive. I had arrived in the UK with the intention of traveling every weekend, but it didn’t always work out. However, there was so much to explore in London that I felt like I’d miss out if I went away for the weekend because we didn’t have much free time after our internships/class.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
I never got homesick once! I also didn’t experience an extreme culture shock and felt like I adapted quickly and fit right in. I thrived in my work environment and absolutely loved going on lunch breaks with my coworkers, and they’d invite me to the pub or dinner sometimes. I really felt like I could’ve stayed there forever, and I miss London every day.

My last bit of advice:
If you have any sort of hesitation on studying abroad, just go with your gut and do it! You won’t regret it. Studying abroad fully transformed my mindset and I have a new drive to improve myself day by day and to make the most out of life. Now that I have a glimpse of what is out there in the world, I have a desire to keep learning about myself and others. You’ll truly learn a lot and see life from a different perspective.

id="madrid"

UF in Madrid


Anika Dham

Anika Dham

Email Anika
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Weston, FL
Major: Finance
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Restaurants (especially if dietary preferences are different from standard Spanish cuisine)
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway from my study abroad experience is that the world is so large, and there is so much to explore and learn!

I studied abroad because…
I have always wanted to travel and have had a passion for learning about new cultures. I picked Madrid specifically because I had taken Spanish for eight years and wanted to go somewhere where I knew the language and could perfect it.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
I was really nervous before leaving to Madrid because I didn’t know anyone on the program, and this was the first time I was traveling internationally by myself. However, I was more excited than nervous so that helped calm my nerves a little.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I tried to cook as much as possible (making easy things like eggs, pasta, sandwiches), but I did eat out a decent amount. A typical breakfast for me looked like either a croissant and a coffee or a Spanish tortilla. There are a ton of amazing restaurants in Madrid, and most of them are tapas style for lunch and dinner, which basically means that you share a bunch of small plates with your friends. I ate a variety of cuisines while I was abroad ranging from Italian to Japanese to Indian and even at some Michelin star restaurants!

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Parque del Retiro! It’s a famous large park in Madrid that is perfect to go hang out with friends, have a snack, or just to chill during the day.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
the San Fermin Festival where I got to see the bulls run in Pamplona!

The most memorable experience for me while abroad was…
travel[ing] to Morocco where I rode a camel!

A habit I picked up while abroad was…
napping! I was never able to nap before this summer but in Spain, the days are so long that the only way to make it through is to nap!

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
that everything moved so fast. We had class every morning, tried to explore as much of Madrid during the rest of the days and nights, and on the weekends, most of us would travel, so it felt like nonstop. I managed this because I would tell myself that I was only there for two months and have no idea when I would have the opportunity to return so to make the most of my time there!

What surprised me most about study abroad:
Since my study abroad program was only two months, I was surprised that I made such incredible close friendships in such a short time.

My last bit of advice:
Study abroad was the best experience of my life, and I cannot recommend it enough!

Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

Email Daniel
Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: Miami, FL
Majors: History & Finance
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Food, planning trips, where to go in Spain
Takeaway: Experiencing new cultures not only lets you see how amazing foreign places may be, but it also allows you to learn more about how your own culture is different from the rest of the world.

I studied abroad to…
learn more about culture in Spain and Europe and practice my Spanish.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
trying to fit study abroad into my school schedule. Because I am in the process of becoming a dual degree student, I thought I’d be behind but study abroad ended up getting me ahead in my studies.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
Tostada con jamón y tomate and café con leche for breakfast; bocadillo de jamón any time of day

My favorite spot in my host city:
I loved a restaurant called Santa Canela in my neighborhood of Chamberí. The patio was always packed with people talking and eating, and they had my favorite patatas bravas and torreznos.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
When I was in Alicante, Spain, I went on the tram an hour north to a town called El Campello to see their annual Fiesta de La Virgen del Carmen, which is a fisherman’s festival where they had fireworks and a concert at midnight.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
The first day I got to Madrid, I realized how hard some of the old apartment doors are to open. I was stuck inside of my apartment for 20 minutes because I had no idea how to open the door to leave.

A habit I picked up while abroad was…
eating olives. Everywhere you go in Spain, olives are served at the table. Even though I had loved olives already, now that I’m home, I am always eating olives as a snack.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
the heat in Madrid. I had no AC in my apartment, and the temperature was usually around 100 degrees. I overcame this by spending more time outside my apartment, which allowed me to see the city more and go to plenty of coffee shops to study.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how different the lifestyle in Spain is versus the United States. Restaurant patios in Madrid are full even on week nights because people value hanging out with friends and family after school and work. I was also surprised at how long the a summer day is in Madrid, as the sun would not set until around 9:50pm.

My last bit of advice:
Study abroad is definitely my favorite experience in college and if you have any doubts such as money and scheduling conflicts, solutions can be found through scholarships and meetings with advisors/IPSAs.

Isabela Kunigk

Isabela Kunigk - Leadership Team

Email Isabela
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Majors: Finance & Economics
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Weekend & solo trips, travelling on a budget, other cities to visit in Spain, restaurants/foods, meeting locals, using public transportation
Takeaway: My biggest takeaway is that the world is so much bigger than Gainesville. Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget the fact that there are so many people and countries in the world that share numerous similarities and differences with us. We just have to get out of our own bubbles and be brave enough to experience the world!

I studied abroad to…
get out of my comfort zone and experience a new culture and way of living. I felt as though I hadn’t grown drastically as an individual since starting college, and I knew studying abroad would challenge me to try new things and learn more about myself!

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
I almost didn’t study abroad because it seemed like such a daunting endeavor to take on my own. I think I struggled the most with the fear of living across the globe for 2+ months and getting out of my normal routine

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
a tortilla de patata, which is a Spanish omelette/tortilla that’s made with eggs and potatoes, and sometimes onion (which – fun fact – is very controversial!).

My favorite spot in my host city was…
hands down Retiro Park! I love how big it is and that you can find a spot to do anything you’d like. If you want to read you can find a shady spot in the grass, if you want to hang out with friends you can bring a big blanket and have a picnic near the gazebo, or you can take a small kayaking boat out in the pond the park offers. Basically, there’s something for everyone and it’s an excellent way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Plus, there’s public restrooms which, unfortunately, can be hard to come by in Madrid.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad was…
my first ever flamenco show in Madrid! It was during my first month there, and it was so surreal and exciting to watch. The action and passion involved in the entire performance was exceptional. I would definitely recommend a flamenco show in either Madrid or preferably Sevilla to anyone who visits Spain.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad was…
doing a cooking class with other students from my Spanish university. It was so cool to finally learn how to make some of the delicious food I had been eating the past two months. Moreover, it helped me practice my Spanish – especially my culinary vocab!

A habit I picked up while abroad:
I started eating my meals (specifically dinner) a lot later than I normally did in the past. In Spain, it’s common to eat lunch around 2-3pm, and dinner only starts around 9-10pm. This was definitely an adjustment at first but after about a week, I was in the groove of eating later in the day and came to enjoy it. Additionally, a habit I picked up was ALWAYS making sure I had my phone and other personal belongings on me and preferably in a zipper so that I wouldn’t be pickpocketed on the street or while using public transportation.

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
the heat during the summer. I had grown accustomed to air conditioning and was not prepared for the heat waves that swept through Europe throughout most of the summer. While there were definitely some difficult and hot times while in my apartment and in Spain in general, my roommates and I tried to make the best out of it. We all bought small fans to use while we were home, kept the windows and balcony door open most of the days, and avoided using the oven and stove during the hottest parts of the day. In the end we all survived and came to appreciate air conditioning and temperatures under 90 degrees a whole lot more.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how much I enjoyed my time in Spain. I remember before leaving for Madrid I was thinking to myself that I would only be there for two months, and it would be over before I know it. Fast forward to the end of my study abroad, and I didn’t want to leave! I couldn’t believe how well I had adapted to my life in Spain and managed my challenges so well.

My last bit of advice:
I would definitely recommend researching which country/city you want to visit beforehand if you’re unsure. Once you’ve decided where you want to study abroad, it’s best to reach out to past students (or IPSAs!) who also studied in that city to give your advice and get your excited about your new home. Most importantly, I would advise [you] to take their study abroad day by day and not feel pressured to make it perfect.

Giselle Lopez

Giselle Lopez

Email Giselle
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Miami, FL
Major: Finance Minor: Economics
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Meeting locals, traveling on a budget
Takeaway: There is so much more to this world than just your normal life and routine.

I studied abroad to…
get to experience what it was like to live, study and work in another country. Also, I wanted to immerse myself into another culture and learn how to appreciate it.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
to get my finances in order. I was depending a lot on financial aid, but since it doesn’t get applied until after you’re already abroad, it was difficult to spend a lot at first before it was applied.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
bocadillo de calamares, tortilla española.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Plaza de Callao. It was right in the middle of the city center, so it was always busy. It was also where I would go almost every day to take the metro, and I just ended up feeling comfortable there.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
I got to go to Pamplona and watch the Running of the Bulls.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad:
The bus I was riding in hit a pedestrian.

A habit I picked up while abroad was…
spending more time outside, like parks and public places, rather than inside. Also, walking, which I used to avoid the most I could, is now something I appreciate more.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Culture shock was definitely something I struggled with, like how to greet people, the normal eating times and other simple things that you wouldn’t think are that different in other places.

What surprised me most about study abroad:
I had heard a lot of people with bad experiences with Spanish people/culture, but after my experience, I was surprised that it was the complete opposite of what I had heard.

My last bit of advice:
I think that at first, it’s always scary to go somewhere different and alone, but at the end of it you’ll be glad you went.

Talisa Roberts

Talisa Roberts

Email Talisa
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL
Majors: Marketing & Psychology
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Fun activities/locations, meeting new students, practicing language outside the classroom
Takeaway: I think we should appreciate the differences between cultures. But we should also recognize that regardless of culture, people are much more similar than we may seem.

I studied abroad because…
I have always been interested in immersing myself in another culture and lifestyle. Studying abroad would also allow me to immerse myself in the language that I had been self-studying. Ultimately, I wanted an experience that would help me learn more about culture and language first-hand.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
budgeting and making sure the program would be affordable for me. Although, the concern did not heavily affect me since I utilized the scholarships made available to UF students.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad:
I probably had two meals more often than I should have: crepes with Nutella and honey and tacos. Almost every morning, I would make myself crepes or pancakes for breakfast and replace my usual syrup with Nutella and honey. As for lunch, I often made myself tacos or got them from a popular taco chain in Madrid.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
Retiro Park. It is a beautiful and expansive park that holds history and wonderful architecture. I liked it because there were various events held there, a lake to canoe in, special spaces to explore, and restaurants within and around the park. Going to that park alone could be a one-day trip, but that day would be worth it to me.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
In Madrid, during the summer, the sun sets around 9:30pm. I loved getting to stay out until that time and seeing the sunset after being outside for the whole day. It almost felt like the sun was setting with my routine.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad was…
graduation day. After graduation, I had to say goodbye to friends and professors I met over the summer with the idea that one day I would return. Not wanting the day to end, some friends and I went to get boba and talk. It is actually nice knowing that I met and befriended so many genuine people over that summer.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Unusually, I started to cook at home a lot more while studying abroad, and now I experiment with food more. I also walk even more than I used to; my appreciation for natural beauty has grown so much more, so I want to explore my outside surroundings more.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
Since I was at a higher beginner level of Spanish when I started studying abroad, I would always get nervous when I needed to speak to a native Spanish speaker. However, I improved my speaking and comprehension skills with constant practice during and outside of these encounters. Eventually, whenever I spoke to a native Spanish speaker, I left with more confidence. Even if I did not do everything perfectly, the fact that I understood the context or could carry a conversation pushed me to try even harder for the next time.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how similar people are in Madrid and the United States. While there are (of course) some fundamental and cultural differences, I felt like people – in the end – all acted and treated me the same way.

My last bit of advice:
The experience will often seem more daunting in the beginning. But before you know it, you have become comfortable and start to have the time of your life. And do not be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources available to you through UF and the host schools. Take advantage of them.

Jacob Schiff

Jacob Schiff - Leadership Team

Email Jacob
Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Major: Business Administration – General Studies
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Giving advice on why you should go abroad, how to make the most of your time there
Takeaway: My ability to find a way to live good, no matter where I am or who I am with

I studied abroad to…
have a new experience outside of the States. I wanted to learn what it was like to live in a brand new setting and what is was like to have to adapt through a language and cultural barrier.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad:
The language and then the cultural barriers were the biggest two obstacles. I am not a native Spanish speaker so being in Madrid, there was a lot I had to learn and deal with when I was there.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
TAPAS! Tapas in Spain are super big and cheap. We would go out all the time at night and practically lived off of tapas.

My favorite spot in my host city was…
a super big park called Retiro. It was beautiful and was the biggest park I’ve ever been to. There’s a lake in the middle, they played concerts at night, and people also danced throughout it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad:
Traveling was my favorite thing to do. Going to new countries every weekend was an unreal experience.

The most memorable experience for me while abroad was…
when I was in Morocco. That entire experience was strange, memorable, amazing, and so many more. I will never forget my trip there. In Spain (my host country), however, it would be walking though the back streets and thrift shopping with locals.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
I learned how to manage my time, money, and life in new ways through using my tools around me to be a clear and organized person.

My most challenging experience while abroad:
The language barrier was a huge scare and issue for me at first. I was not confident to talk to people, and I worked through it by making myself uncomfortable and forcing myself to talk as much as possible.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
how easily I adapted to everything. Within a week of being there, I felt that I belonged and could live there for the rest of my life!

My last bit of advice:
If [you] are on the fence about going, …just do it! I had nobody with me when I went, and I was very on the fence at first, but I know now it was the best decision of my life. Because of it, I am now an IPSA and want to give every student a chance to go abroad if they are interested, or to spread the word if they don’t know about it.

Isabelle Soto

Isabelle ('Isa') Soto - Leadership Team

Email Isabelle
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Palm Beach, FL
Majors: Marketing & Public Relations Minor: Leadership
Term Abroad: Summer 2022
Specialty: Restaurants/food, outside travel, public transportation, nightlife, practicing the language
Takeaway: The most unexpected moments can teach you the most about life if you’re open to it. You can find peace in not knowing what’s next.

I studied abroad to…
Step outside of my “normal” routine and experience life from a new perspective.

One of my biggest challenges before studying abroad was…
Meeting the other people in my program.

A typical meal I had while studying abroad was…
I’m not a huge fan of seafood so I tried to cook a lot in my apartment. I LOVE the Spanish tortilla for breakfast so I would usually get that in a sandwich or a croissant and a cafe con leche. For lunch and dinner, I would try to find a new restaurant to eat at every time if I wasn’t cooking. I ended up falling in love with tapas toward the end of my trip.

My favorite spot in my host city…
I absolutely loved the neighborhood I lived in, La Latina. There was so much to do & see – most notably the Sunday market called El Rastro. There were always cute coffee shops and restaurants and it felt like its own city within the city.

One cool event I got to experience while abroad…
The Pride festival in Madrid was a unique experience that I had abroad. The whole city celebrated the LGBTQ+ community for a week and there were cool events on each day. You would see people on the streets at all hours of the night having fun and during the day there were street concerts everywhere. Roads are blocked everywhere; buses have to take alternative routes – it was super cool to see everyone come together.

The most memorable experience for me abroad…
In the last 10 days of my time abroad, my friend from the program and I traveled to 4 different countries. We did this on a BUDGET and therefore had a lot of obstacles to overcome. In fact, one of my favorite memories from the trip was the product of a bus cancellation from Milan to Geneva. We had to take a rideshare to a different city in Switzerland instead and ended up seeing so much more of Switzerland than we had planned.

A habit I picked up while abroad:
Using public transportation and walking everywhere!

My most challenging experience while abroad was…
I think the most challenging part of studying abroad in such a short time was balancing exploring, school, food, being in a new city, traveling, etc. I really had to prioritize certain things for myself in order to get what I really wanted out of the experience.

What surprised me most about study abroad was…
How applicable what I learned in one summer was to the rest of my life. I didn’t expect to gain so much confidence in myself.

My last bit of advice:
If you can, set aside some time to journal about any unique experiences. Even if it’s a quick note in your phone. There’s nothing like reminiscing on the beautiful memories you made, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to forget the small but magical details.

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UF in South Korea


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Business Exchanges


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Recent IPSA Alumni

Alejandro Benavides

Alejandro Benavides

Pronouns: He/Him
Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia
Major: Business Administration – General Studies (International Studies)
Exchange: Aarhus School of Business & Social Sciences (Aarhus, Denmark)
Term Abroad: Spring 2022
Specialty: Traveling, cultural topics
Takeaway: The people I met – they were wonderful, and they made my experience much better.

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!

Julia La Neve

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

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.

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.