Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Ortiz

Jennifer Ortiz Quezada. January-July 2012. Jennifer spent the first twelve years of her life in Mexico. She then moved to sunny California where she went to high school. She then moved on to study economics at Georgetown University and is currently working on her Masters Degree in economics in Europe.

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What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Jennifer: I think what made this particular experience so unique for me, was the fact that I lived in a dorm with about 100 other students, most of which were Italian, rather than live with a host family or with other Americans. The ability to live side by side with the Italian students allowed me insights into the culture that I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise.

They taught me so much about the local culture, the university system, and what their thoughts are about Italy—and also gave me helpful tips for surviving in the city! It was also a special treat to go to their respective cities and discover what life in Italy’s smaller cities is like. I can say with full confidence that this was the best choice I made during my time in Italy.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Jennifer: My period abroad had a tremendous impact on my life. Because I enjoyed my time abroad, I decided to pursue my Masters Degree in Europe rather than in the United States. While I would have loved to return to Italy, I thought I would benefit immensely from living in another country and learning more about that local culture.

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I also plan to pursue a career in Europe, and perhaps Latin America, as don’t want to ever limit myself to just one place. It is really important for me to see all the world has to offer and experience everything I can while I am still young.

What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?

Jennifer: Right before coming home, I took two weeks off to go to Sicily. The trip really made clear to me the geographic and cultural diversity of Italy. I had been told that the country’s people and languages differed immensely from region to region, but that juxtaposition became very clear when I went to Sicily.

In addition, the island is absolutely beautiful and full of interesting archeological sights. My favorite was the amphitheatre in Taormina. Finally, Sicily is the undisputed king of Italian food. I don’t think I have eaten quite as well since the last time I was in Sicily.

If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?

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Jennifer: If I could do anything differently, it would be that I would have gone for the entire year rather than just a semester. I definitely think I enjoyed the time I had in Italy to the fullest, but having had a few more months to see and do more things and really get acquainted with Milanese life would have been invaluable.

I would really recommend that any student who is considering going abroad, consider going there for the full year. It does take a while to adjust, and once you get the hang of it you may only have a few months left, so why not give yourself all the time possible to enjoy your study abroad experience?