Alumni Spotlight: Claire Shumaker

Claire Shumaker studied abroad at Florence University of the Arts in Florence Italy during the fall semester of 2013, her junior year. Being a military brat she has traveled and moved throughout her whole life, however, Florence made a special impression on her and she considers it one of her favorite places she has lived along with Virginia and California and Germany. A senior now at Philadelphia University she is studding Fashion Industry Management. Studying abroad was without a doubt one of the best and most special times in her life.

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What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Claire: The time and place of were I was personally made my study abroad experience unique and special. I was able to find out many things about personal aspirations through my experiences. Being in my early 20’s I am still trying to figure myself out as far as what makes me most interested in life and professional preferences. Staring over again in a new country provided me a new array of people and new interests.

Having an open mind was the most important quality for me in gaining new insights and accepting new cultures. Being in a completely new and different environment can be intimidating but if you go into it with a positive outlook you can improve upon the parts of your life you have never had the opportunity too.

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How has this experience impacted your future?

Claire: Gaining confidence was the biggest personal gain as result of many of the experiences while abroad. Self-discovery made me more confident with direction I would like to go and the choices I would like to make in life.

I was able to question many self-defining topics in which I either never thought to question, or never had the courage to question. Making yourself happy while traveling the world is one of the most exciting and liberating things you can do for yourself and will overall make you a more confident, easygoing person.

What did SAI do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Claire: Upon arriving in Florence, SAI staff members where there to pick me up from the airport. They gave me a very good first impression and kept true to their open availability and expert advice throughout my stay. They took care of anything and everything you would think to give you the most trouble, for me is was problems with Internet, hot water, heat, and travel, so that the level of stress around travel and everyday outings was minimal.

SAI staff members are very experienced with helping students and they will go out of their way to help. They are also very easy to reach. One of the staff members pretty much booked us our whole trip to Greece for our Fall Break- doing the work of a travel agent.

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Describe your program socially and academically.

Claire: My program made it very easy to find friends through organizing unique social events that almost everyone in the program attended. Making friends with people in class was easy because we traveled or went on field trips in a majority of the classes. I consider my roommates, two girls from opposite ends of the United States, two of my best friends to this day.

It is very easy to make friends and find people to travel with because everyone is their to do the same things and most people are not only going to new places but making new friends. Class lectures where rigorous, however the work expected was minimal. This made it easy for students to get a lot from the classes while not having to put in much extra time outside of class.

Describe a goal you set and how you went about accomplishing it.

Claire: A goal I set for myself was to learn about different countries by making friends and talking to the locals who lived there. I wanted to make my experience more special by making time special for others as well. Most foreigners love to help people navigate their city. Conversations and personal encounters with the people who lived their themselves made Europe feel more like home. Being equal amounts of friendly and cautious will make your social encounters with locals worth it.