Alumni Spotlight: Javier Lizarraga

Javier Lizarraga, Fall Semester (September-December) 2013. Javier is from Long Beach, CA and studied Accounting at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is a 26 years old and currently works in banking.

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What is one piece of advice you'd give future students traveling with your program?

Javier: Let go of any fears and hesitations. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that a small percentage of students have the privilege to enjoy. Be curious and immerse yourself in the culture, language and meet people of all kinds.

It is great to make friends from your home country but also expand your circle of friends by interacting with locals and students from other countries. You will be happy you did!

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

Javier: English is not widely spoken in Italy, at least not as much as in other European countries. Italians are very proud of their culture, including their language.

At first, it was rather difficult to communicate with locals in everyday situations. However, Italians were interested in teaching us their culture and the language.

With the help of the intensive language course offered through USAC, we were able to learn enough Italian to live our daily lives. As we interacted more and more with locals and other students, we developed our language skills.

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How has this experience impacted your future?

Javier: This experience has opened up my eyes to much more. We are blessed to live in a great nation, however, there are many other wonderful nations as well. It has made me more appreciative, mature and aware of global happenings.

I was able to make long lasting friends from around the world all while learning about a new culture and learning a new language. As a business student, I was able to understand and learn business practices that differ in different parts of the country.

I recently graduated from Cal Poly and thanks to this experience I am transition into a new career. I found a career that encompasses by love for foreign languages, cultures, traveling, and customer service. I recently got hired as the Italian speaking flight attendant with a major airline.


Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Javier: One major experience was the ability to connect with individuals from around the world. I made friends from our host city, different parts of the United States and from around the world since there were students studying abroad from various countries.

It is wonderful to be able to keep in contact with these friends and see how they are doing in their native countries. I also got to experience living in a place where I was outside of my comfort zone which made me grow personally and professionally.

What was the best place you visited outside of your home-base city?

Javier: Outside of Torino, the best place I visited was Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul is a vibrant city rich in history and stands as one of the cultural and economic hubs of Europe.

This city lies in, both, Europe and Asia. Being one of the World's largest cities, there is much to see including mosques, museums, restaurants, boat rides and much more. Istanbul should definitely be on your list of cities to visit.