Jared Camarata

Hometown: Cypress, Texas

Degree /Awards:
Associate of Arts (AA), Lone Star College-CyFair (2008)
Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Beta Lambda Mu Chapter Officer (2005-07)
Lone Star College System Student International Explorations Scholarship recipient (2008)

Major (study interests): Computer Science

Transfer Plans: University of Texas at Austin (Fall 2008)

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
To immerse yourself within the unknown. To experience local food, picked off the vine that morning instead of loaded with preservatives to make the weeklong journey to your plate.

Q: Most important things learned?
How different cultures, both ancient and modern, interact with each other. How other societies live enjoying the simple things in life. The importance of economy and local food.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Take the most out of this experience and then expand on it. Figure out your niche, then go out and explore off the predefined paths. Stay at a hostel for at least three nights, you will love it.

 

Yecelin Chacon

Hometown: Marlborough, Massachusetts

Major (study interests): Political Science & Criminal Justice

Transfer Plans: Suffolk University (Spring 2009)

Year studied in Italy: 2008

 

Q: Why study abroad?
I believe study abroad is imperative in a student's career; especially early on. I feel many students go to school because they are supposed to and pick a career because they have to, without knowing what's on the other side of the world. I feel study abroad opens your mind to many other fields. You find interest in courses of study that you never thought you'd be interested in. Beyond educational learning, you take with you life-time experiences; because it is a complete culture shock. We are used to a certain life-style where everything is planned and handed to us. Study abroad helps you develop character strengths, and independent skills."Survival of the fittest" skills come in handy; you find that no one speaks your native language, and you have to struggle to communicate. Whether you have to break a language barrier or a cultural barrier you realize that people are actually different than what you're used to. Personally I got to embrace a culture other than my own, and that is something that I will take with me forever. I was able to truly appreciate the beauty of what earth really is, and human civilization. We come from a cemented society, were everything is fixed for us; and being given the opportunity to embrace a new culture and ancient civilizations is priceless. It made me step back and forget about everything and just contemplate the beauty of creation. There is nothing that compares to that experience!

Q: Most important things learned?
I learned so much just by going to the ruins and by looking out the window. It was hard to soak in that what was outside was earth, the place that we are a part of. Reading our text books and trying to visualize and comprehend them, was easy; because I looked out the window and saw Mount Vesuvius, the bay of Naples, Monte Faito and ruins of buried civilizations. The thing that impressed me the most were the people of Castellammare. They have not had to modify their surroundings, however; they have embraced nature as their true resource of life.

Academically I learned so much! However, one of the most important lessons I learned was outside of the classroom. I was in the city from 1-4 pm and not one single business was open. What did I learn? I learned the importance of sharing a meal with your family. Italians don't just share a meal, they invest TIME and share life with their families. People didn't gather in front of a TV to spend time together, they did it at the dinner table, whether it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They gathered at the true family altar, where they could communicate face-to-face and spend quality time that could never ever be gained again. I understood the true meaning of family, the meaning of a table, the meaning of time. Italy is not just a place of quality food, but quality food spent with the ones you love the most. It's a place where they embrace life and live it to the fullest. Sometimes we think that success comes from wealth and power; however families are split because of the lack of time spent with them. How could you get to know someone when there is a BOX "TV" in front talking to you? This is what impacted my life the most, because I feel this is sometimes taken for granted and it's something I will carry on for my future family, and generations to come.

Even though we think we are so advanced, if we think about it we don't have the time to enjoy earth and life.
One of the things I noticed the most is that there are hundreds of tourists in Europe, they go see, take a picture and go back home. Time has passed I'm home and I now realize that I was not a tourist; I was a traveler, a person like the Greek philosopher Posidonious. He, through his travels wanted to learn and understand the world first-hand and examine unspoiled human culture. I went, I saw, however; I am not the same person. I see life from a different perspective. I know I was not there to add another stamp to my passport but, to learn a different culture other than my own.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Pack light; bring a dictionary, good walking shoes... not just good but CUTE walking shoes! And a good pair of sneakers! Take a sweater and umbrella! Have fun! But be respectful of the culture! Embrace it! Try to learn the language! Talk to the people that work there! You will build amazing friendships! Behave like adults! It's so much easier on the professors! Oh! Bring "some" nice clothes... it's Europe and everyone looks like they are out of a magazine! There is a laundry service at the institute, but it takes a couple days to get back!

 

Clifton Robert Edwards

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Major (study interests): Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Awards:
Geospatial Information Technology & Association (GITA) Scholarship recipient (2007)
Lone Star College-CyFair Geographic Society Member and Scholarship recipient (2007)
Lone Star College System Student International Explorations Scholarship recipient (2008)

Transfer Plans: Texas State University

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
Why not? Why wouldn't you want to go to a country that is built on the most influential empires in history? A country that has a culture so many people dream about. To not only visit there like so many and only see it for a week, but you have the opportunity to live there for a month and become part of the community. Plus on top of it all, you earn six additional credits for your time there. That's why you study abroad.

Q: Most important things learned?
The most important thing I learned while in Italy was the importance of every type of work and the sense of pride for every job. The local coffee house owner wants to be the best coffee in town and the baker the best baker. Every person gets up in the morning and goes to their profession and does it with pride and the outcome is amazing. There is a lady who bakes bread and that's all she does and all she has done for the past 50+ years is make bread. For all these years, the families in that community have depended on her to make bread for their daily needs. They truly live by the idea that every job is a self portrait and they need to autograph it with excellence.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Two things I would advise future students. The first is related to packing and its only four words; RICK STEEVES' PACKING LIST. If you are considering travel before or after then take your bag and pack it and then take half of it out and then double your money. The second thing I would advise is when you travel is to truly experience the area you are in. Experience the local food when you are in a country like Italy, don't fall into the American pitfall and eat at McDonalds.

 

Daniel Gonzalez

Major (study interests): Language and Geography

Year studied in Italy: 2008

 

 

 

Q: Why study abroad?
The personal growth that you acquire from submerging yourself in a different culture is immense.

Q: Most important things learned?
Enjoy life. Be open and friendly to people.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Turn yourself into a sponge and "absorb everything in your path. Bring an alarm clock."

 

Elizabeth Huerta

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Major (study interests): Teaching

Degree /Awards:
Associate of Arts (AA), Lone Star College-CyFair (2008)

Transfer Plans: University of Houston Downtown (Fall 2008)

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
This study abroad program is something every student should have an opportunity to do. It has opened up my eyes to a world I never knew. I had so many wonderful experiences because I chose to take a chance and leave my comfort zone and explore a new area. With this study abroad, the classes really come to life right before your eyes.

Q: Most important things learned?
I learned that it is good to take chances and embark on a journey. I learned to open up to new ideas and cultures. There was so much I learned that it is hard to put it all into words. A person would have to take this journey so they could fully understand how much they can and will learn.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
My advice to future students would be to not be scared. I did not know if I would make it through the whole trip away from home. But I learned that I could make a home anywhere. I opened up my mind and my heart and I am so grateful I did.

 

Whitney Hughlett

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Major (study interests): Visual Communications

Transfer Plans: Don't know yet.

Year studied in Italy: 2008

 

Q: Why study abroad?
It gives you an understanding of the world and that there is so much more to life than the tiny little town you live in. Also, to do geography and history abroad allowed it to come alive. Eat, breath, see, smell, touch, and live both subjects is amazing! YOU MUST GO!

Q: Most important things learned?
How different cultures are even within the next city over. Also, the volcano was amazing! I have to say the difference between Pompeii and Herculaneum and Stabia was stunning. The destructive power of it amazed me. Don't worry, you aren't in ANY danger!

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Pack light!!! Don't be afraid to show an interest in the locals in whatever town. Expect the unexpected. While packing light, pack extra stuff in your carry-on in case your bag gets lost...trust me, I know. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Enjoy every moment! Take tons of pictures!

 

Amanda Pfluger

Hometown: Seguin, Texas

Major (study interests): English

Transfer Plans: University of Houston

Year studied in Italy: 2008

 

Q: Why study abroad?
Because it's such an amazing experience. It puts everything into perspective and leaves you with a wonderful newfound knowledge. The professors hosting this are fantastic and teach you so much on top of everything that you get to see. It's amazing to be able to see the history with your own eyes. The experience is completely indescribable.

Q: Most important things learned?
The ancient Roman and Greek civilizations were much larger than our own.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Rick Steve's Italian phrase book is fantastic; but grab an English/Italian dictionary for the handful of words that aren't in it. I spent hours on Google for travel tips. It was very helpful. Pack light. Sleep early the days before field trips. You'll need it. Back up your hard drive for pictures. I got the blue screen of death and lost 4000+ images. It's devastating when it happens. Bring a massive first aid kit. Neosporin, pain medicines, all sizes of band aids, antibacterial wipes, bottles of hand sanitizer. Bring toilet paper with you in your backpack every day. It is a commodity in Italy.

 

Belsis Romero

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Major (study interests): Theology and Political Science

Degree /Awards:
Associate of Arts (AA), Lone Star College-CyFair (2008)
Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Beta Lambda Mu Chapter President (2008)
Phi Theta Kappa Guistwhite Transfer Scholarship recipient (2008)
Lone Star College System Student International Explorations Scholarship recipient (2008)
All Texas USA Today Academic Team Member (2008)

Transfer Plans: Houston Baptist University (Fall 2008)

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
Study abroad is an amazing experience. Honestly, it does change your life. The beauty of study abroad is that you do not get the tourist experience. Anyone can go to Italy and visit Rome and Florence, and come back the same. However, when you go for a long period of time you take in the culture and life of the country. Learning is no longer mechanical when studying abroad, but rather it is alive and breathtaking. One comes home a more knowledgeable and interesting person.

Q: Most important things learned?
I believe everything you learn when studying abroad is important. However, I learned to be open to new things and people. I believe sometimes here at home you do not open up and are stuck in one mindset.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Please be open to a new world. Do not expect people to accommodate to you. You accommodate to them. You are not in the United States so learn about the new culture. Don't come back with the tourist experience. Study abroad is what you make of it.

 

Jennifer Smith

Hometown: Cypress, Texas

Major (study interests): History and Law

Awards: Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Beta Lambda Mu Chapter

Transfer Plans: University of Houston (Fall 2008) and Northeast Law School

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
Unlike the stark white walls of a classroom, looking out the window and seeing another country makes the subjects come alive. No pictures can capture the sights, smells, and sounds that the experience gives.

Q: Most important things learned?
I have traveled to over 20 countries and I have never had such an amazing trip! Biggest lesson learned: it is okay to accept help - I do not have to do everything on my own. (Crutches helped teach me that in Rome). And also that although I have an open mind, there is always something to learn.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Always have an open mind and passport ready.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Mahatma Gandhi
When they say pack light - pack light!
If you have a weak stomach, ask what kind of meat you are eating after dinner.

 

Lorena Urbina

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Major (study interests): Psychology

Degree /Awards:
Associate of Arts (AA), Lone Star College-CyFair (2008)
Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Beta Lambda Mu Chapter Officer (2007/08)
Lone Star College-CyFair Psychology Research Assistantship (2007/08)
Lone Star College System Student International Explorations Scholarship recipient (2008)

Transfer Plans: University of Texas at Austin (Fall 2008)

Year studied in Italy: 2008

Q: Why study abroad?
It is a wonderful opportunity to experience different cultures and learn about who you really are. When you learn about something in the classroom and actually go visit the place, statue, painting, etc., you are able to understand what the meaning behind the history really is.

Q: Most important things learned?
I learned that becoming involved in a different culture is a wonderful opportunity to open yourself, assimilate and learn about a whole different world than your own. It offers a different perspective of what Italian life really is.

Q: Advice for future study abroad students?
Pack very light, buy plane tickets ahead of time (at least one month and a half), bring really good walking/running shoes.