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An Experience Like No Other

In Pictures
Kelly O’Donnell ’24 at the Christmas markets in Vienna, Austria, and her photo of the Temple Bar in Dublin all decked out for Christmas.
In Pictures
The view from the window in the apartment of Jackson Burns ’25, and a shot of the small park right down the street (taken by Burns).
In Pictures
A picture of a traditional Italian seafood bake from Vernazza (taken by Grace Wlodarczyk ’25), and a selfie at the Parma vs Fiorentina football (soccer) match.
In Pictures
A photo of a famous Italian singer in Bologna, Italy (taken by Cheryl Mei ’25) and her delicious pizza with buffalo mozzarella (a Perugia specialty).
In Pictures
Emily Bianco ’25 and her friends during dinner, and Bianco relaxing in a hammock reading a book at sunset.

Compiled by Madison Schulman

Last semester, we followed five Endicott Gulls on study abroad and internship experiences across the globe. Read the first, second, and third dispatches.

For this final installment, we asked these Gulls to reflect on their experience overall, and what they’ve learned about themselves in the process.

Jackson Burns ’25—Florence, Italy

I couldn’t be happier that I chose to study abroad. I will always remember the experiences I had and the friends I made. I did tons of traveling and saw as much of Europe as I could. I love that I have a city in Europe that I know in and out, and I will be going back there as soon as I can. Overall, I feel like I’ve grown as a person, and I would recommend studying abroad in Italy to anybody who has the opportunity.

I visited Milan, Rome, Naples, Benevento, and the Amalfi Coast, and all of them had their own unique culture. Things such as aperitivo and long, multiple course dinners are great. People aren’t usually rushing around, and they value cooking a great meal and taking their time to eat it. Living in Italy broadened my perspective on the world and how Italians have a great quality of life.

Many of my lacrosse teammates plan on going abroad next fall, so I’ll go visit them. Also, when my younger brother goes abroad I hope to visit him as well. A lifetime goal of mine is to own a small home in Tuscany, so hopefully I can make that happen someday! The experiences I had taught me how to be a respectful and curious tourist. This experience also made me further appreciate what I have at home, and how lucky I am to have this opportunity. For the rest of my life, I will be figuring out ways to take trips back to Europe whenever I can.

Emily Bianco ’25—Turks and Caicos

My study abroad experience really brought to light the effects of climate change and showed me why I am fighting to change the way the world works. I was living in a small island nation that relied on importing goods to survive. Accessing freshwater was limited and the majority of the island used rainwater catchment systems as their freshwater source. Living in an area experiencing these challenges, in my opinion, is the best way to learn.

A major positive of the country I chose was the weather and access to water. It was amazing being in warm weather into the winter and getting to do so much fieldwork for class. I also really enjoyed that the program was so small due to where it was. I would definitely go back in the future.

Throughout the semester, I learned that I love research, especially marine research. Before this, I had no idea what I wanted to do post-graduation. I was afraid that I wasn't going to enjoy research but I also couldn’t picture myself spending my days at a desk. For my semester capstone project, I researched octopuses, focusing on their behavior. Part of this research was going scuba diving at night and videoing octopuses that we saw. The other part of this project was spending the days watching the videos. I really enjoyed both parts of the research. This was a really exciting discovery for me because it feels like it has opened the world and I have a million options to pursue.

Cheryl Mei ’25—Perugia, Italy

When first applying to study abroad in Perugia, I believed it would be similar to the student lifestyle and classes at Endicott. However, it was a totally different approach, and I’m glad I studied abroad as it is a truly irreplaceable experience. Experiencing cultures and countries first-hand as well as interacting with people from all over the world has allowed me to see things from different perspectives and broadened my global knowledge.

Some of the positives of Italy are the affordable prices, access to fresh tasty foods, an abundance of local businesses, the central location in Europe, and the kind local people in Perugia.

This experience has pushed me to learn a new language and travel skills. It has also allowed me to learn more about other cultures and groups of people, which helped me to grow a more culturally immersed and nuanced perspective on the world. I have learned that I’m more independent than I think I am. Through my experience abroad, I have gained a new sense of independence and confidence within myself.

Kelly O’Donnell ’24—Cork, Ireland

Social Marketing Intern, IGC Global Promotions

Looking back on the past four months interning in Ireland, I am so happy that I took the leap to come abroad again! Over the course of the semester, I was able to travel to 10 countries, cross three experiences off my bucket list, make so many new friends, and gain amazing international work experience. The internship was one of the most positive work experiences I have had yet, and I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity! Cork is such a cool city with so much to do, amazing food, and some of the kindest people I have crossed paths with.

This experience has been extremely beneficial for me both professionally and personally. On a professional level, I was able to grow my skills greatly through my internship. I am coming back to Endicott more confident in my ability to jump right into the workforce post-graduation, as well as having a better understanding of what I really want to do with my degree. On a personal level, I have grown in many ways. I am a strong believer that some of the greatest lessons you can learn are through travel. Just having the ability to travel around Europe and meet new people, experience different cultures, and step outside my comfort zone has me coming home feeling like a better version of myself.

The main takeaway from this experience for me has been this newfound desire to move abroad after Endicott. A small part of me had always considered the idea of moving abroad post-grad, but I never really seriously considered the idea until this semester. The world is so big and I don’t think I am done exploring it.

Grace Wlodarczyk ’25—Florence, Italy

Overall, my experience abroad has taught me to take the leap and not fear independence. Before going abroad, I was already a very independent person. However, I was originally worried about going abroad alone without a buddy. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I was able to make friends outside of the small Endicott community and meet people from all around the world. It has led to beautiful friendships and opportunities for future explorations around America and Europe.

Florence was an incredible place to study because it was not only a hub for college students worldwide, but a place rich with history and culture. Whether you are out to eat or visiting a museum, you are bound to meet another fellow study abroad or college student. Additionally, Florence has so many hidden gems in their architecture and way of life which one slowly discovers the longer they stay. Every time I went out, I always noticed a new detail. I am already planning to go back to Florence in the near future. I have made many close local connections and I already miss my host family. I can’t wait to explore Florence from a new view.

The experience has completely metamorphized me into a strong and independent professional who is ready to take on the ever-growing world. I believe that I can navigate better, solve problems faster, and employ creativity in a way that is unique and useful. Studying abroad places you in a lot of situations where you need to think on your feet and take big leaps. However, each jump reaches you closer to the stars. I have learned that I love traveling and learning about others in the world around me. Endicott’s Office of International Education offers so many adventures, which I believe all students should push themselves to embark on. These adventures will help you discover something new about yourself and your future which you most likely won't find in the comfort of our Nest.