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Student Spotlight

Cristel Yi
Italy Fall 2012
Public Health Sciences major
ceyi@uci.edu

"I chose to study in Florence, Italy because I absolutely LOVE italian food and its culture. I am originally from Argentina and a great part of the Argentinian culture comes from the Italians that migrated there."

"Going abroad to a foreign country challenged me in multiple ways, especially when I was stuck in situations in which I had no one but to rely on myself. I learned to be assertive and to follow through with the ideas and plans I had in mind."

"As a student pursuing nursing as a career, I plan on going to multiple countries to do medical missions with people that truly love different cultures as much as I do."

Why did you choose your particular study abroad program/location?
I chose to study in Florence, Italy because I absolutely LOVE italian food and its culture. I am originally from Argentina and a great part of the Argentinian culture comes from the Italians that migrated there. I love the different types of cities Italy has to offer and the amazing history it has for its visitors.  
 
What types of activities were you involved in while abroad that were meaningful for your learning?
I took an amazing class called Mediterranean Food and Culture in which we got to learn about the history of Italian food and the origins of Italy's famous dishes. As part of that class we got to engage in different activities such as visiting olive oil farms, wine tasting and even chocolate tasting! UCEAP Florence offers a variety of opportunities for students to become involved with the community to help out the people in the city. I chose to work at a soup kitchen with a few other students during my stay in Florence. I went once or twice a week and I got to converse with the staff as well as those we were serving at the soup kitchen. Another amazing thing UCEAP Florence offered to its students was the conversation exchange events. The staff would set up random nights for students to meet with local Italians to share a meal, talk and improve in our Italian speaking skills! 
 
How have you changed or what have you learned due to studying abroad?
After studying abroad, I learned to appreciate the little things in life. Going abroad to a foreign country challenged me in multiple ways, especially when I was stuck in situations in which I had no one but to rely on myself. I learned to be assertive and to follow through with ideas and plans I have in mind. During my time abroad I traveled to many different countries and one of the things you have to do is to sit, plan and follow through with a plan you have with your friends. There was no time to simply say "I'll do it later" or "let's plan next time" because every moment we had abroad was precious.  
 
What are you doing now as a result of studying abroad?
After studying abroad, I cannot help but to encourage all of my friends to study abroad. I have already influenced 3 of my friends to go and do the same program in UCEAP Florence! As a student pursuing nursing as a career, I plan on going to multiple countries to do medical missions with people that truly love different cultures as much as I do. I currently work at Anaheim Regional Medical Center and I share with many of the patients that I meet how important it is to value different cultures because we were all created differently for a reason. We are meant to enjoy and appreciate the differences in each other's lives! 
 
What advice would you give to a student considering studying abroad?
Going abroad to a new country can seem a bit scary but there is absolutely nothing to fear. There are going to be multiple students going to the same program as you and you all can help each other out. The staff at the UCEAP centers are specifically chosen to provide you with the best care and help you will need during your stay abroad. Sometimes your plans may not go the way that you hoped for them to be but at those moments you will have the most unique experiences of your life and you will learn a lot through the challenges. But rather than focusing on the worries and problems you may have, think about how you get to travel the world! There are multiple opportunities to get to know the country/city you are studying in and also a variety of neighboring countries you get to visit. I do not regret any moment during my time abroad because each experience has contributed to the appreciation I have every moment in life.  

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University of California, Irvine • Irvine, CA 92697
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