Valerie Bordelon - Program Participant

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Ever since my freshman year in High School, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly to another country, learn the language, eat the food, experience the culture, and get school credit! By the time I was a freshman in college, I was researching different countries and cities that were potential candidates to study abroad in. I officially decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy by the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year. To this day, it has absolutely been the best experience I have had in my academic career.  

Why did you choose your program?

I chose SAI (Study Abroad Italy) for many reasons. Some of the more important factors that brought me to this decision included, the classes that were offered (like wine and cooking classes!), housing options, cultural activities, and optional excursions. 

Although not directly involved with the overseas experience, SAI had the most organized and enticing website design out of all of the other programs that I looked at, which absolutely made a difference. Some websites were difficult to navigate, had small text, and not a lot of pictures. This factor was very important because it gave me a sense of organization and legitimacy. 

What makes the program you participated in so interesting?

This program was interesting because it offered so many options not only for classes, but also external cultural activities and excursions. Also, students did not only attend one building for classes, but were spread out between five different campuses around Florence. This was a little scary at first, walking through an unknown city, but quickly became one of my favorite aspects of this trip for many reasons, the main being that I was able to walk to classes a different way every day, which enabled me to experience more of the city.

What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?

To me, this is an unfair question because it’s so hard to answer! I truly loved everything about my experience abroad, even the more difficult parts. However, I think my immediate answer to this question would be that students have the ability to meet so many people; students and locals. Due to this program advantage, I now know a large group of people that are located all around the world, and I met my best friends through some of their events and excursions. 

What's one thing you would have done differently?

I think if I were to go abroad again, I would have said “no” to rooming with someone I knew, and would ask to be placed in an apartment with more students. 

Now that you're home, how has study abroad impacted your life?

Besides answering to the obvious, that study abroad “opened my eyes” to a different world, studying abroad truly had and continues to have a positive impact on my life. For example, I can use my experience abroad as a great example of being flexible, comfortable in unknown situations, and desire to go above and beyond in my career. Conversations like these led me to a great internship, and I hope that my experiences will continue to influence my future career.