Alumni Spotlight: Tristanio Coppola

Tristanio is a student who loves traveling abroad and exploring the world. So far he has visited five countries and lived in two. He hopes one day he will visit more countries, but for now, he plans to focus on his education.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted something that could present me with a challenge, and would allow me to explore a whole new place I didn’t know much about and wanted to explore further.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My provider gave me the tools I needed to live independently in a foreign country while still allowing me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do without having to go along with something simply because I had to.

I was given a home, a workplace, and some friends, and the rest was up to me. I could not be happier with my situation the way it turned out and I would not have it any other way.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

It’s always good to keep an open mind when you travel abroad because you never know when a complete stranger might turn out to have similar interests as you, or you might meet someone who becomes your best friend.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day of my internship would be, wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, work for six to eight hours, go home, have a snack, watch tv or go to the city, have dinner, watch more television or go back home, and go to bed.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was of talking to other people. It may sound strange, but I’ve struggled with anxiety about talking to strangers because I always worried I wouldn’t find anything in common with someone or I wouldn’t be liked.

I was able to face this fear and reap the benefits of talking to a stranger, as I often found I had so many things in common with the other person. Quite a few people I talked to on my trip were similar to me and we were able to converse intelligently about things that interested us.

If you could choose to stay longer in the foreign countries you visited, would you?

I chose to stay in Ireland for four weeks, which I figured would give me enough time to be away without feeling homesick and be able to see everything I needed to see.

At the end of the trip, however, I felt so sad that I had to go home because I’d made so many new friendships and I wished I could stay longer to explore more. But at the same time, I was happy to go home and see my family.