Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
I caught the study abroad bug early on and couldn’t stop. My first experience was in Caltagirone, Sicily where I spent my junior year of high school. This experience set me on an irreversible path that would bring me back to Italy to complete my undergraduate degree in Rome.
Lastly, I decided to spend a semester abroad, in Cairo Egypt. Living in Egypt before the Arab Spring was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I was inspired by a strong desire to get out of central Vermont and once I got started it took my six years to come back home again!
What does the future hold for UAlbany - any exciting new programs to share?
The future holds many new things for UAlbany. We are incredibly fortunate to have just had Dr. Harvey Charles appointed as our new Dean and Vice Provost for International Education. His vision will ensure that UAlbany is at the forefront of education abroad programming for years to come.
On that note, we are launching a new summer faculty-led program in Ireland in June 2016. The program is titled “Adventures in Entrepreneurship” and will include site visits to the European headquarters of major tech giants such as Google and Facebook.
Dublin is known as the Silicon Valley of Europe and also has the largest percentage of start-up’s in all of Europe. Students will have the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship in the heart of it all while earning upper level business credit.
Which study abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
I don’t think that any destination is underrated or overrated per se. I think that each and every destination should be the right fit for the student choosing that location. When I started my career, I used to think that students going to England or Ireland were choosing the “easy” path because the spoken language was English and things “weren’t that different.”
Boy was I wrong! I have seen students take Thermodynamics and Advanced Calculus in Galway before heading to a pub to watch a hurling match – this is VERY different. I think every student should choose their study abroad destination based on the best academic, financial, and personal fit. That being said, there are definitely a number of cities that experience the “study abroad bubble” and have less opportunity for students to experience full cultural integration.
The most important thing for students is to commit fully to getting outside of their comfort zone, interacting with local students, and making the most of their experience. The advice I give my students is to visit the “popular” city destinations on the weekend (Dublin, Paris, Rome, London) but to study in the more “non-traditional” ones (Galway, Hull, Aberdeen, Wuerzburg).
What country have you always wanted to visit?
I have always wanted to visit Iceland. I think that Iceland is one of the most underrated destinations on the globe. It has untouched landscapes that are gorgeous, lots of outdoor activities, and the ability to view the Northern Lights! What could be better?
Furthermore, Iceland has a very small population and Icelanders have a strong reputation of being very friendly and welcoming. Most people don’t think about Iceland when they think about planning a vacation. It is now at the very top of my bucket list and hopefully I will get to visit soon.