Fall 2017

Former Featured Bloggers: Fall 2017

Allyssa Acevedo
Montclair State University
Stirling, Scotland
Hey, I’m Allyssa and I’m an English major at Montclair State University! I am an avid writer and lover of poetry, adventure and the environment! I’m all for hiking, animal and human rights, veganism, the arts, and finding ways to inspire others through my actions, passions and the sharing of my experiences. In my spare time I like to write poetry, drink tons of coconut coffee and listen to all kinds of good music.

Cesar Aguilera
Arizona State University
Rome, ItalyCastañeda Correspondent
I grew up in a family where exploration and adventure was encouraged, which led me to my decision to study abroad. I am a sophomore at Arizona State University where I am majoring in finance. Some things I enjoy doing include working out, reading the WSJ and spending time with friends. When in Rome, spero di migliorare il mio Italiano, enjoy the local cuisine, as well as immerse myself in the Italian culture. Personal growth and obtaining a global perspective is what I’m looking to get out of this exciting opportunity.

Nahid Baghdadi
Michigan State University
Stockholm, Sweden (EuroScholars)
I am an undergraduate researcher with the hope of getting more experience before I become an independent researcher. I enjoy critical thinking and that’s the reason I chose chemistry as my major. What I hope to achieve out of my time abroad is to learn about different cultures, learn how to effectively and scientifically communicate in the new era of scientific collaborations, and learn a new research topic which is very interesting to me: pharmacology. I enjoy photography and capturing moments that seem unique. Photography gives me a different perspective about the things I perceive with my eyes. I also used to be a blogger in middle school. I am always ready for more challenges!

Fiona Boler
University of Wisconsin
Bangkok, ThailandCastañeda Correspondent
I am a senior studying sociology and history at UW La Crosse. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota where my curiosity about this world was cultivated. As I’ve grown older my wonderment has developed into a passion for knowledge, and I have found that I learn the most when I take the time to connect with people. For me studying abroad is about gaining new perspectives from others and living outside of my comfort-zone. During my time abroad I intend to expand my mind and conquer my fears… All while writing, taking pictures and eating good food of course!

Michela Coury
Lake Superior State University
Townsville, Australia
When viewing myself and my hobbies outside of my time abroad, I suppose I would classify myself as a multi-cultural person. Personally, in my home state of Michigan, I jumped around, living in a variety of culturally diverse areas. Being born in Port Huron, I grew up in a Blue Collar area, playing the alto- saxophone, teaching myself how to fish, and exploring my local nature. Moving to Flint, a very ghetto and poor area, I started to focus on my inner city basketball experiences and interactions with those who experienced life differently than I did. Once I reached college in Sault Ste. Marie, I turned into a classified “redneck”, where I fished, hunted, learned about the Native American life and much more. My hobbies are vast and wide. I have traveled to 8 different countries outside of the U.S, living by myself in a few where I did not know the language. I find myself to be a very adaptable individual, who is willing to learn and pickup new cultures and is not afraid to take an adventure right at her doorsteps.

Alesondra Cruz
St. Edward’s University
Rome, Italy (Veritas) – Castañeda Correspondent
I am an incoming sophomore at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. When not hanging out with those I love, you can find me listening to podcasts or eating queso (I’m from Texas, what can I say). I am a strong believer in the power of selflessness and service, which is why I chose the Veritas Program. During this trip, I want to not only grow as a person, but grow as a woman of God. I hope to gain some friends, gain a few pounds (the gelato, of course!), and gain a new perspective of the world.

Lauren Dacus
Old Dominion University
Meknes, Morocco (ISA Service-Learning)
I am a senior International Studies and History Major originally from Baltimore, Maryland. I chose Morocco because I find the blend of cultures, geography and languages fascinating. I know that by actually immersing myself into a full semester, I could better gage all these factors that make up the country. I chose Meknes because I want to live in a smaller city and because I find the history of the city and its impact in modern society very interesting. I think perhaps the one thing that makes me unique is my outlook on life and how utterly beautiful it is.

Montana Dare
University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Sevilla, SpainCastañeda Correspondent
I grew up with three siblings, one large dog, and two incredible parents. I was very stubborn from a young age, but that obstinate nature has become a fierce determination to experience the diversity in our world. As a college student, I have found a passion for connecting with others through my involvement in the student ambassadors program and as a group fitness instructor. At the Universidad Pablo de Olavide, I look forward to continuously creating meaningful connections with others through learning their language. By being fully immersed in the Spanish culture, I hope to learn more about the people.

Danielle Day
The College of Idaho
Bilbao, Spain
I’m a Spanish and Kinesiology double major. I’m from Boise, Idaho which is known for its Basque heritage and culture which is why I chose to study in Bilbao, part of the the Basque Country. I have visited for a couple short visits to see family but I want to become more of a local through this experience and share the comparison of my families homeland and my home.

Abigail Dow
University of San Diego
Dunedin, New Zealand
I am a senior at University of San Diego; my college brought me to a place where I truly came alive and thrived. Living on Mission Beach, rollerblading at sunset, learning how to longboard, drinking acai berry smoothies, and lounging on tapestries at the beach, I adapted right into the San Diegan culture. I met friends who also like to camp and hike, be goofy and fun, and talk about anything from philosophy to physics to politics, and I fell more and more in love with life. It was time for a new amazing adventure and a little wintertime, so I chose to study abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand! Thusfar, its been above and beyond anything I could have imagined, and I am stoked to share my thoughts on my experiences!

Dominique Gold
Furman University
Gold Coast, Australia
Hey there! My names Dominique. I’m a California native who attends college in South Carolina, so naturally, it only makes sense that I go all the way across the world for my next adventure. While abroad, I hope to gain a newfound sense of independence all while connecting with the different culture around me. Whether it be checking out a local restaurant, heading on a road-trip to Sydney for the weekend, or just relaxing on the beach with some locals, I want to experience all that I can in the short amount of time I’m given. Unlike most people, I revel in being pushed outside of my comfort zone. I thrive in situations that are unfamiliar and foreign, and I definitely plan on going out on a limb during my time down under!

Cassandra Gomez
Texas Tech University
Barcelona, SpainCastañeda Correspondent
Hi y’all! (: I am born and raised in Texas going on my junior year as a Texas Tech University student! I’m a Business Management major with a minor in Spanish. I have a love for many things like R&B music, food, Elvis, tigers, Johnny Depp, tattoos/piercings, movies and more! I studied abroad in Mexico last summer for 5 weeks and caught the travel bug lol! For my study abroad trip this time I decided to do a whole year so that I can fully immerse in the culture and become fluent in Spanish. I hope to visit multiple countries and meet many people to build friendships and family abroad. I also want to experience different cultures, food and music!

Mackenzie Grell
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Barcelona, SpainCastañeda Correspondent
I was born and raised in the middle of the United States in Omaha, Nebraska. That is where I sparked my passion for filmmaking, Lincoln, Nebraska is where I chose to continue it, Barcelona is where I deepen it. I hope to gain a deeper sense of culture in film and filmmaking, while also learning to communicate in Spanish, whether on set or on the street. I’m immensely excited to live outside of Nebraska, it’s definitely a new experience. I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

Amanda Hagy
Sydney, Australia
I love you, were the last words I told my uncle. He died two weeks later, of a two-year battle with oral cancer. The remaining three years of high school I lost four more extended family members, my brother came out as being gay, and my mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Freshman year of college, I went into a small in state school that I thought would be a perfect fit that I ended up not feeling as though I could be myself. My grades dropped dramatically to a two point one and I knew I needed to make a change. I worked really hard and got accepted for the fall semester at University of North Carolina Wilmington. That summer I worked three jobs, went skydiving, got a tattoo in honor of my uncle, rushed a sorority, made a transfer honor society with a three point five and continually let the past be what shaped me but didn’t limit me. Life is short. At so times I wanted to sleep the days away and for it to just all end. I wouldn’t be here going to Sydney. Life is about taking risks, and not letting fear, the past, or society scare you from doing what is right for you.

Destiny Harris
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Santiago, Dominican Republic (ISA Service-Learning)
I am an travel loving young lady from Durham, NC. I love nature, sports, singing, food, and tranquility! As of now, my travel has solely been within the United States. I have been to several states in the US, but I have never been outside of the country. Taking a leap of faith, I decided to study abroad! My time abroad will be challenging, yet exciting! I see it as the first step toward a successful life! I hope to expand my horizons, grow as an individual, and make a difference while abroad!

Sophie Hillmeyer
Northern Michigan University
Cape Town, South Africa
I am Sophie, a junior pursuing English Writing with a minor in International Studies at Northern Michigan University. I have always been a writer and have discovered through years of exploration and relocation that travel inspires me more than anything. I thrive in the outdoors and love to explore new areas of the world on foot – especially with a cup of coffee in hand. During my time in South Africa, I challenge myself and say yes to things that scare me (within reason, of course) in order to grow as a person in all aspects of my life.

Emily Huang
University of California, Santa Barbara
Shanghai, China
I am an avid traveller and I am always on the search for my next adventure. I attend school 3,000 miles away from home and I’m ready for my next challenge, which is studying half way across the world in Shanghai, China. I seek physical challenges in my every day life and I am passionate about overall wellness; I enjoy hiking, running, and yoga, as well as eating healthfully.

Megan Igwonobe
University of Kentucky
Barcelona, SpainCastañeda Correspondent
My name is Megan Igwonobe and I’m from THE Music City also known as Nashville, TN. I’m a rising senior at the University of Kentucky (GO CATS!) studying Marketing, Economics, and International Business. When I’m not scrolling on Twitter or catching up on my favorite TV shows, I enjoy spending time with friends and traveling. While this upcoming Fall semester will be my first time in Spain, it’s not my first time in Europe. In high school, I was apart of the People to People Program where I traveled to France, Greece, and Italy.

Katie Isler
University of Vermont
Florence, Italy
Hi! My name is Katie, and I am from a small town an hour outside NYC. I am 18, and just graduated from boarding school in upstate NY. The second I graduated I decided I needed some excitement and went to live in South Africa for a month. When I was there I volunteered with White Shark Diving Co. I worked on a Great White Shark cage diving boat, as well as tagging and taking data on smaller sharks in the area. In Italy I am planning on taking a break from cage diving, and focus on food, language, and people!

Alexander Karavas
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Prague, Czech Republic
My one hope to get out of studying abroad is for me not only to learn more about myself as well as the Czech culture by fully submersing myself in it. I’m someone who likes to sit back and would rather listen and learn than talk or be heard, however when the time is right I have no lack of confidence on saying what I believe. I’m a history fan who loves to dive back into old archives especially around WWII era.

Paige Kraynak
Grove City College
Galway, Ireland
For many years I have traveled somewhere new. Whether that was in my home country or abroad to others, traveling is something I am passionate about. I love exploring new places, trying new things, and creating memories for myself. Traveling is what makes me unique and different from others. By traveling, I have my own special stories to share. What can I say, I’m an ordinary girl living in an incredible world. All I want to do is explore and learn.

Natalie Laurence
Texas A&M University – College Station
Florianopolis, Brazil (Veritas) – Castañeda Correspondent
First and foremost, my home and identity is found in Jesus Christ. That way I know no matter where I leave, where I am, or where I go, I am always home. But, not going to lie, bits of my heart still live in places all over the world. That’s what happens when you travel, move, or study abroad. For me, it began in high school when I moved to Germany, but I thank God I get to continue this crazy journey from the incredible island of Florianopolis! I am so pumped to fall in love with this place with you.

Johnathan Molina
Texas A&M University
Shanghai, China
I am Latino of both Mexican and Salvadoran backgrounds. I enjoy having spontaneous conversations with people I’ve barely met. I am always excited to meet new people, so I don’t shy away from conversations. I always try to relate with people if I ask them questions to make them feel comfortable and answer with honesty. I like to explore whatever I can whenever I am in a different country since, so I live my life by saying, “you cannot miss out on opportunities.” In my spare time I listen to music and go to the movies.

Alison Moore
University of Pittsburgh
Granada, Spain
Hello! I am an adventurous rule-follower who loves to travel, read, and write. In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors, particularly biking and swimming. I consider myself a novice runner, but I love dancing anytime and anywhere. You can often hear me singing and speaking Spanish spontaneously because I love music and talking, in either English or Spanish.

Natasha Pate
UNC Wilmington
Lima, Peru
I have always been a wanderer. Growing up, my mom would have to keep an eye on me every waking second to make sure I didn’t get too far away. I never outgrew this restlessness and it has pushed me to travel to the UK, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, the Netherlands, Croatia, Costa Rica, Aruba and now a semester abroad in Lima, Peru! I’m an active, fun-loving person and am passionate about Spanish, reading, tasty food, and the outdoors. I can’t wait to explore Peru and make life-long friends and memories!

Addy Pratt
Seattle Pacific University
Granada, Spain
I am headed Granada because I believe ignorance breeds injustice. Much of the hurt in the world is due to a lack of knowledge and cultural understanding. I lived in Tecate, Mexico from ages two to six, which gave me a malleable world-view that keeps me constantly motivated to learn, travel, and remain aware of my own bias and naiveté. With immersion comes an understanding of people around the world, far beyond that presented by mainstream media. Speaking of knowledge, I hope my host family doesn’t mind a bit of stomping about, I plan to master the art of Flamenco.

Frances Raybaud
Queens College
Meknes, Morocco (ISA Service-Learning)
Hey all! I’m Franny, from Manhattan, NY. I just spent a month traveling around the Middle East and I’m excited to take you all on my sarcastic, real talk exploration of Morocco as it continues- I spent my summer in Rabat but rarely left the beach. I major in PoliSci, but my real passion is writing- and I can’t wait to write poems about the Sahara! I speak French fluently only because I worked hard, and Arabic is even more of an uphill battle- at least it’s beautiful. Catch me in Meknes dressed in green and haggling in broken Darija!

Ashten Scheller
University of Denver
Paris, France
Small-town by origin but big-city at heart, this Kansan (and now Coloradan) has a love for history and the intersection of cultures, making international relations and art history my areas of study at the University of Denver. Being abroad is more than just new geography–it’s about learning of our similarities and differences, both familiar and unique. As an artist and musician, I can’t wait to experience new sights and sounds first-hand, and as an activist academic I look forward to absorbing all that the world has to offer in terms of our shared humanity.

Zoe Sterckx-Ziegler
North Carolina State University
Valencia, Spain
My name is Zoé Sterckx-Ziegler. I grew up speaking French and English, so language has always been a huge part of my life. I then discovered my love for Spanish when I started high school and have studied it every since! I even took a Spanish graduate seminar. I am in love with traveling and practicing my Spanish, and I find experiencing other cultures so enriching. In Spain, I hope to continue down my path to a career in medicine and I know la Universidad Católica de Valencia will have amazing things to offer me. I am absolutely ecstatic to have this opportunity to go to Spain and immerse myself in the culture. I know that I will experience amazing things and I would love to share them with my peers.

Christa Street
University of Montana
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I am a proud New Mexican who is obsessed with delicious green chile. When I am not re-reading the Harry Potter series, I enjoy camping, hiking, finding unique restaurants, and exploring exciting cities until I cannot physically walk anymore. I travel abroad to become the best Spanish speaker I can be and I have met incredible and interesting people in the process.

Ian Treger
Washington and Lee University
Paris, France
I hope to learn French fluently and become immersed in French culture, all while better learning my way around my host city of Paris. I did a gap year in Germany after high school. I have been fortunate to travel extensively, mostly with my family. I have written before, taking English classes in high school and college. Additionally, I have written a blog about my time in Germany, which won the CIEE blogging competition I was writing for. I was also a three-sport varsity athlete; I enjoy sports, music and traveling, among other things.

Frances Ufkes
Texas A and M University Corpus Christi
San Jose, Costa Rica (ISA Service-Learning)
I am an older student who is passionate about the Spanish Language! I have experience as an educator and as a hospital administrator. My purpose for going back to CR for the 4th time is a combination of loving the lifestyle, being with my family (yes, my CR family has become MY family. I adore them!), and becoming more fluent in the language. What sets me apart from other students, other than my age, is that I love to learn about Costa Rican history and culture. With my CR families, I have delved into many cultural issues that other students don’t see. For instance, in January I went to several resos and love to go to places regular Ticos go. Special skills and talents: well, I am super friendly and love extended conversations with Ticos to learn more about the history and culture of this beautiful country. Although I am older, I have tons of energy and just try to keep up with me — ya can’t (wink).

Chelsea Van Otterloo
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Dunedin, New Zealand (ISA Internships)
In the spring of 2015 i chose to study abroad with ISA to France. I had the most amazing time and realized i wanted to share my experience to open the eyes of others. Upon my return i applied to be a GA for ISA so i could do this. When i decided to start applying for internships i knew to start with ISA first. I love traveling and would love the chance to share my my experiences.

Sophia Velasquez
St. Edward’s University
London, England
As a writing student and passionate poet, creative writer, and blogger, language is my art and access into the worlds of knowledge, innovation, and creativity. I have been creating stories since I learned to write, and as my first-grade tales have transformed into poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and personal and professional blogs, I have fallen more deeply in love with the power of words and their meaning. When I’m not writing for school or work, I’m sharing my own stories of travel, fashion, and lifestyle on my personal blog. I love highlighting my adventures and reflecting on my experiences.

Stephanie Wayne
Transylvania University
Sevilla, Spain
Hi! My name is Stephanie Wayne! There’s a few foundational things you should know about me:
1) I attend Transylvania University, a small, homey liberal arts school in Lexington, KY.
2) My senior year of high school my dad let me decide if we should move to Germany and we did, but I’ve moved six times and been to over 20 countries.
3) I love to watch (and cry to) Ellen DeGeneres videos on Facebook.
4) And I love dogs even more than I love Ellen (I have two pekingeses, Bengi and Hayley, and they are the loves of my life).

Cristina Werthwine
Western Carolina University
Valparaiso, Chile
Traveling for the first time by myself to see my Abuelos in Spain at 12 years old was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life. With the travel bug biting early and eight years in between, I have had the privilege of traveling to 3 beautiful countries- Chile being my upcoming 4th! I hope while studying in Chile I will come back to the States more confident in my Spanish speaking ability. I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to share my experience with you!

Kaitlyn Williams
Southern Nazarene University
Florence, Italy
Hello! I am a junior in college and through studying abroad, I hope to broaden my worldview and learn as much as I can about other cultures. I write for a small magazine and just started my own blog for my time traveling. I enjoy singing and reading, as well as spending time with friends and family. I am passionate about human rights issues, and giving voices to the voiceless. I love learning new things and exploring new places, which I know will be an asset for studying abroad!