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Student Bloggers

Spring 2017


Alissa Malbrough
AIFS Program: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home University: Claflin University

iHola! My name is Alissa  and I’m from Irmo, SC. I am a junior at Claflin University studying Spanish and business administration; though I’m really interested in economic development and international studies as well. I wanted to study in Argentina to learn more about Argentine culture, develop my language skills, and learn the Argentine tango. Fun fact:  I can play the violin! I’m excited for this opportunity and grateful to be able to share my adventures abroad.

Andrea C Calderon
AIFS Program: San Jose, Costa Rica
Home University: St. Edwards University

Howdy! My name is Andrea Calderon and I am currently a Sophomore at St. Edwards University located in Austin, Texas. This Spring semester I am studying abroad in the beautiful country of Costa Rica at Veritas Universidad located in the city of San José! As a student pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, I chose Costa Rica because I find it to be the PERFECT way to learn about a broad range of environments through first-hand experience.

Bonnie Buchetto
AIFS Program: Florence, Italy
Home University: University of Rhode Island

My name is Bonnie Buchetto and I’m from The U of Rhode Island. I chose to study abroad in Florence, Italy because I am 100% Italian and wanted to see where my family comes from. I love to cook and bake so Italy is the perfect fit for me!

Breanna Booker
AIFS Program: Athens, Greece
Home University: Eastern Illinois University

Υεια σας! My name is Breanna Booker! My home school is Eastern Illinois U, I am working on my degree in journalism with a minor in creative writing. I chose to come to Greece for so many reasons, but the main ones being the history, the beauty, and to learn one of the oldest languages in the world. A fun fact about me is that I’m a total adrenaline junky and am currently working on getting my skydiving certification!

Brianna Sitkowski
AIFS Program: Florence, Italy
Home University: Columbia College Chicago

Brianna Sitkowski is a Broadcast Journalism Major and Public Relations Minor at Columbia College Chicago. Even though she is only a sophomore, she has proved that she is a stellar student. Sitkowski made the Dean’s List and is an active member of The National Society Of Collegiate Scholars. Her dream is to one day be a news anchor for ABC7 Chicago or be a talk show host for Dancing With The Stars.
Before college, Sitkowski was a competitive dancer for 13 years. She was trained by some of the best instructors in the Chicagoland area and even traveled all over the U.S. for competitions and conventions. Her instructors have been seen on America’s Best Dance Crew, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Wicked The Musical. Her close friends Sean and Luke were on America’s Got Talent too. She is most well known for her award winning tap and musical theater numbers.
Her love for dance has taught her many life lessons which she wishes to carry on through her college career and beyond. Now, she is working hard to make all of her educational and life goals come true. What made her decide to go into broadcast journalism was her love to help others. People turn to the media and news outlets when they did not get the proper assistance from an agency, police department, or some other type of organization and no one helped them. It’s then the media’s job to put the news on blast and get the story out there, so that they do get the proper help.
One day, Sitkowski dreams of having a happy and healthy family of her own while still maintaining a career. If you know Sitkowski, you know that she is outgoing, unstoppable, good-hearted with a vibrant, lovable, spirited personality. In the future she hopes to pass on what her family taught her; “Chi la dura, la vince.”-He who strives for it, wins it.

Brittany Pierce
AIFS Program: Rome, Italy
Home University: Colorado State University

My name is Brittany Pierce and I am studying abroad in Rome for a the Spring Semester (or forever, who knows). My home U is Colorado State U located in the beautiful city of Fort Collins. I chose Rome because it is an amazing city that took my breath away when I traveled there in high school. I only got to stay a couple days, so I want more. Also, I am big on food and the food is so scrumptious that I had to come back. A fun fact about me is that I have a two year old red fox hound lab that is the most adorable dog in the entire world.

Caitlin Frances Chan
AIFS Program: Cannes, France
Home University: Chapman Universityy

My name is Caitlin Chan and I’m traveling from Chapman University to study in Cannes, France! I’ve been learning French for some time, so it only makes sense for me to study in a French speaking country. I specifically chose Cannes, because of its differing culture from the metropolis hub of Paris, and it’s similar qualities to Orange County. Since I’ve been studying Screenwriting and Broadcast Journalism in California, I am especially interested to see how Cannes will change during the International Film Festival. Join me as I blog about my love for coffee and fascination with everyday people.

Carolyn Conte
AIFS Program: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home University: Duquesne University

My name is Carolyn Conte, and I study journalism and international relations at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. I knew I wanted to become fluent in Spanish, but also that I wanted to experience a non-European country. After narrowing my options to South America, I found that Argentina excited me the most, particularly because of the renowned majestic beauty of Iguazu Falls. I am sure I will also enjoy their culture’s Italian influence since I have Italian family, and I am thrilled to experience the plethora of other gifts, like tango, which Argentina holds. As for a fun fact about myself, I suppose that I love to watercolor.

Chelsea Opong-Wadeer
AIFS Program: Florence, Italy
Home University: University of Rhode Island

My name is Chelsea Opong-Wadeer and I go to the U of Rhode Island. I chose to study abroad in Florence because a lot of friends of mine had studied abroad here, and their experiences inspired me to want to create memories of my own in Florence. I also love to get lost in culture and new ideals so Florence was the perfect place for me to do so.  A fun fact about me is that I have a long-lost cousin who is now not so lost anymore who lives in Italy and I have plans to hopefully meet him for the first time while I’m abroad 🙂

Chelsea Lightfoot Misner
AIFS Program: Salamanca, Spain
Home University: California State University – San Marcos

Hola! Me llamo Chelsea and I’m doing a semester abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I’m a senior at California State University San Marcos studying Sociology and Spanish. This is actually my second time studying abroad, I previously studied in a summer program through Universidad de Valladolid and loved it so much that I felt drawn back to Spain for my final classes in Spanish. I have a passion for travel  and traveling on a budget, and I am truly lucky to have visited 20 countries on 4 continents. What I love most about traveling is immersing myself in new cultures, traditions, and views on the world. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you as I spend the next four months studying in Spain!

Chris Copeland
AIFS Program: Grenoble, France
Home University: University of Georgia

My name is Chris Copeland, a 3rd year MIS and International Business major at the University of Georgia. A big reason why I chose to study in Grenoble is because it is surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and I’ll take mountains over beaches any day! Something interesting about me is that I have a part-time job in the US where I drive students around campus on a 40 foot bus. Currently, I’ve accumulated over 400 hours of safe bus driving!

Chris Ripple
AIFS Program: Wellington, New Zealand
Home University: Regis University

My name is Chris Ripple and I go to Regis University located in Denver Colorado. When I was a young kid, I remember watching the Lord of the Rings movies and thinking how amazing the scenery was. I soon found out that the movies were all shot in New Zealand and I decided that I had would have to make a trip to New Zealand to see for myself. I found out that Regis could give the opportunity to study abroad there and knew I had to take it. I love being outside, and I love longboarding, surfing, snowboarding, hiking, and anything really that gets me out and going.

Chris MacDonald
AIFS Program: Wellington, New Zealand
Home University: University of Vermont

My name is Chris MacDonald, and I am a junior studying business at the University of Vermont. I chose to study in New Zealand for an infinite amount of reasons. However, I think what sold me the most was the beautiful landscapes and the action sport presence in New Zealand. Why did I chose Wellington? Well, Wellington has a lot of adventuring opportunity surrounding it, but it also has a solid city life which is nice while studying. Some of the other schools seemed like there wasn’t a lot of societal activity around them. Something not everyone knows about me is that I compete at a national level for slopestyle skiing!

Emma Ferguson
AIFS Program: London, England
Home University: Ball State University

Hey, I’m Emma! I go to Ball State University but am a diehard IU fan! I am studying abroad in London. I chose London because of the central Europe location and amazing history. Fun fact: I have a cat named Lizard.

Emma James
AIFS Program: Rome, Italy
Home University: Bradley University

Ciao, amici! Mi chiamo Emma James, and I will be spending this upcoming semester 4,000 miles away from my home school of Bradley U in Peoria, Illinois… but I couldn’t be any more pumped! I have chosen to study in Rome after completely falling in love with the country during my first visit in 2008, and have grown to love it even more while studying the language and culture throughout my high school career. I am looking forward to endless pasta dishes, indulging in my love for Italian leather and checking tons of “countries visited” off of my list!

Jaleel Chandler
AIFS Program: Cannes, France
Home University: Iowa State University

Hello everybody! My name is Jaleel and I study Political Science, French, and Statistics at Iowa State U. I chose to study abroad in Cannes, France because it’s a great opportunity to perfect my French skills on the beautiful Côte d’Azur where I plan on eating my way through the semester. Although I’m from Iowa, a fun fact about me is that I’ve never been on a farm and when I’m not giving a campus tour you can probably find me watching scary movies with my friends.

Julia Colasanti
AIFS Program: Prague, Czech Republic
Home University: Saint Michael’s College

Hi I’m Carlos, a passionate, adventurous dreadlock with dreams to travel the world and I’m dragging my friend Julia with me! Julia plays volleyball at Saint Michael’s College and double-majors in Media Studies, Journalism, Digital Arts and Environmental Science. She is a stand-up comedian and enjoys juggling in her spare time, but like I said, she’s just along for the ride. We are headed to Prague, Czech Republic where I can freely flap in the wind as Julia explores the beautiful city and “czechs” Europe off her bucket list. Can’t wait to tell you about all our wild adventures!

Karina Safaoui
AIFS Program: Paris, France
Home University: University of Alabama

Hello everyone, I’m Karina Safaoui. I was raised in Southern California with my younger brother and my parents; where the sun always shines, the palm trees line every street and where the beaches offer a get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I attend school at the U of Alabama where I am a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and a huge fan of our famous BBQ and football team. In my free time, I enjoy eating copious amounts of tacos, reading classic books, watching any type of movie as long as it’s a good one and laughing with friends over memories, both old and new. I am excited to bring you on my study abroad journey and hope that you are able to see a different part of the world from my perspective!

Katherine Canan
AIFS Program: Prague, Czech Republic
Home University: University of Kansas

Hi, I’m Katherine. I’m a Minnesota native and living the dream as a Kansas Jayhawk. I’m studying Journalism with hopes of working in Public Relations or Marketing someday with a company focus on animals. You can usually find me talking about food or obsessing over dogs (golden retrievers in particular.) I’m embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, and can’t wait to share my experiences in Prague with all of you!

Kathleen Castrejon
AIFS Program: Limerick, Ireland
Home University: Dominican University

My name is Kathy Castrejon. I am a Junior at Dominican University in the state of Illinois, majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. I am currently studying abroad at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland.  I chose limerick because they had a food science program and I will be taking a public health in nutrition course here! My blog will consist of tips on how to stay healthy while abroad, as well as just the overall perks that come with traveling. Can’t wait to share with you all of the places I travel to, as well as their delicious gastronomy. Bon Appétit!

Kendall Nizza
AIFS Program: Prague, Czech Republic
Home University: Southeastern University

Hi! My name is Kendall Nizza and I am a senior at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. I am a Michigan native who loves Jesus, tie-dye, and moose. I also enjoy spending time outside or in local coffee shops drinking tea (yes, tea…not coffee). I love learning about different people and cultures and learning new languages. I chose to study abroad in Prague because it’s in the heart of Europe, and hello….puns #czechitout #studyaprague….Anyways tag-along with me on this new adventure blogging and studying in Prague!

Lea Swatosch
AIFS Program: Barcelona, Spain
Home University: University of Nebraska – Lincoln

¡Hola! My name is Lea Swatosch and I am studying in Barcelona, Spain. I go to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln back in the states, but I am originally from Minnesota! I always knew that I wanted to study abroad in Europe. I chose Barcelona because it is the best of both worlds, surrounded by the mountains and the sea! I also loved the idea of a more laid-back culture. Since I have been abroad, I have found a love for photography and I can’t wait to share my pictures and adventures with you!

Lily Feenan
AIFS Program: Florence, Italy
Home University: University of Rhode Island

Hey y’all, my name is Lily Feenan. I live in Vermont, but am currently a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island. Ever since I can remember, it has been my dream to visit Italy. I have always been fascinated with the food, culture, and artwork. Now I get to experience those things first hand with my upcoming semester in Firenze [Florence]. I could not be more excited to be a part of the AIFS family! In addition to blogging for AIFS, I enjoy capturing my adventures through my own personal photography blog. Arrivederci!

Lynna Vo
AIFS Program: Rome, Italy
Home University: University of Texas – Austin

My name is Lynna and I’m a senior at the U of Texas at Austin. I’m so excited for my adventures abroad with AIFS this semester! I chose to study abroad in Italy because I wanted to be exposed to a country with an abundance of culture and history. I believe that living in Rome will allow me to witness firsthand what the lifestyles of people across the world are like and to gain a larger, cultural perspective. I also love  Italian food, let’s be honest. Fun fact about me: I was famous for about 10 seconds when FOX news aired me and my dad on TV once.

Margaret Banks
AIFS Program: Barcelona, Spain
Home University: University of Alabama

¡Hola! My name is Greta Banks and I am a sophomore at the University of Alabama, studying Public Relations and Economics. I am originally from San Antonio, Texas, but I am currently studying abroad in Barcelona! I chose to study in Barcelona because it allowed me to practice my Spanish and experience a culture and lifestyle totally new to me. One fun fact about me is that I can hold a handstand off the wall for more than a minute.

Mikayla Lawrence
AIFS Program: London, England
Home University: Western Washington University

My name is Mikayla Lawrence, and I’m stationed here in London, England, at Richmond, the American International U. I study literature, film and journalism at Western Washington U, but I left to look for an experience that would make living my life more appealing than reading a novel (for once). I’m an old soul with a passion for modernism, so a big city with a lot of history was my perfect match. Fun fact: I may be a bookworm, but I go to about ten concerts a year. I’m a jack of all hobbies!

Natalie Smyth
AIFS Program: Cannes, France
Home University: Mississippi State University

Hey everyone! My name is Natalie Smyth and I am a Junior at Mississippi State University studying Kinesiology. I grew up in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and then moved to Madison, Mississippi at age 12. I have always had a love for travel, culture, and (most of all) great food. A fun fact is that I have already been to Ireland, Italy, and France with my family. Each time we left I wished I could have stayed longer, which is why I decided to study abroad in Cannes, France this spring!

Natalie Bonthius
AIFS Program: Salzburg, Austria
Home University: Wartburg College

Natalie Bonthius is a Neuroscience student who is spending her last semester of college at the University of Salzburg, Austria before returning to the U.S. to start medical school.  She is an avid runner, triathlete, writer, and adventure lover.

Nolan Osborn
AIFS Program: St. Petersburg, Russia
Home University: St. John Fisher College

My name is Nolan, a 3rd year International Studies Student from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. The decision to study in Russia did not come easily. The country uses a different alphabet, has been taught to us as an enemy during the cold war and has gained significant global influence throughout the past few years. I could have viewed these as reasons to avoid this unique experience, but I chose to view them as reasons to go. I studied in Berlin during the fall semester and was fortunate enough to remain in Germany throughout break!

Roxanne (Roxy) Moran
AIFS Program: Berlin, Germany
Home University: College of William & Mary

Hallo! My name is Roxy Moran and I am a junior Government & Accounting major at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. My three major loves are music, cats, and a good taco. I chose to study abroad in Berlin because I’m a Cold War history nut and wanted to explore this vibrant city so deeply embedded in such an important facet of history. I’m excited to immerse myself in Berlin’s alternative music and cultural scene and experience the famous “Berliner Schnauze.” I’m also getting into photography and will be including plentiful amounts of pictures with my posts. Looking forward to keeping you filled in on my adventures!

Sarah Fisher
AIFS Program: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Home University: University of Kansas

My name is Sarah Fisher and I am a Kansas Jayhawk. I’m in my third year majoring in Journalism with a Strategic Communications emphasis and double-minoring in German and Leadership Studies. There are few things I love more than my cat, German food (specifically candy), and eggs benedict. Fun fact: when I was in 4th grade it was my dream to be on Broadway as the next Elphaba in Wicked. This worked for a few years until somebody told me I’m terrible at singing.

Shaleen Shah
AIFS Program: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home University: Howard University

I’m Shaleen, originally from Nepal, studying at Howard University. “But you’re already abroad,” my friends said when I told them I’d be studying abroad…again. Well, that’s true, but I had to explore more. Argentina is the furthest place to home I’ll probably ever be; I don’t know anyone from Nepal who’s ever been there before. I was in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2016, and I’ve found that people from around the world have more in common than I had ever imagined. You have to see it to believe it, and I’m trying to see as much as I can.



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