Why did you decide to study abroad with AIFS?
Krystal: I literally woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to study abroad. I sort of had a hard time transitioning from high school to college, but one thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted to travel and experience things outside of my neighborhood. I never really thought that it would be something I would be able to do, mainly financially, but also because I work full-time and fully support myself. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to research it a bit further, and then I just finally made the decision to actually do it.
It took me about an hour to find the program that I wanted to do. It took me another hour to apply for a student loan, and within a week I had everything ready to go! The program I chose was a four week summer course, but luckily at that time, I worked for a great company that was completely supportive of my decision.
What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?
Krystal: The great thing about the program I attended, was all of the different places that I was fortunate enough to visit. The program began in London, and then from there, we travelled to Amsterdam, Paris, Lucerne, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy (Venice, Florence and Rome). I honestly don’t know what my absolute favorite place was. Every place that we visited was unique and you experience something different everywhere you go. London is very comfortable, mainly because it has many similarities to the US, so you don’t really experience too much of a “culture shock” in the beginning. Amsterdam was very laid back and peaceful.
Switzerland was absolutely beautiful, very green and serene! Italy, of course, was Italy! There was absolutely nothing NOT to love about it, and each city was excitedly different. I really enjoyed Rome because we visited many historical and significant landmarks, such as St. Peters Basilica (including the Sistine Chapel), and the Coliseum. However, if I could pick one place that was outside of the scheduled itinerary, it would be Tuscany. We ended up taking a full day excursion to a private vineyard in Tuscany, where we were served lunch and wine, while overlooking the vast countryside. It was absolutely amazing and something that I will never forget. Whatever you read in books about Tuscany, is what I felt that I experienced there.
What is one piece of advice you'd give future AIFS students on this program?
Krystal: My one piece of advice that I would offer to anyone considering studying abroad, is just to do it! It really opens your eyes to different cultures and how other people perceive this world. It makes you realize that there is something much greater out there than just the country we live in, which is the rest of the world!
One thing that we need to learn to accept, is that we are ALL different. Obviously there are some people in this world with bad intentions, but mostly I find that it merely comes down to our personal differences.
I personally feel that world travel, especially study abroad, is something that EVERYONE should experience at least once. I feel that if we all saw the world from a different angle, we would all think and act differently, and therefore the world would be a very different place.
I think that we would be more accepting of one another and we would more or less lose our “invisible shield of ignorance”. Any student that I advise, I tell them to “go into it with an open mind, and I promise that you will learn something worthwhile, and it's something that you will NEVER forget.”