Study Abroad at St. John Fisher University: The Opportunity of a Lifetime


Photo by Mac Etoll

If someone told me I would be studying abroad and traveling the world when I was 20 years old, I would not believe it for a second. From exploring five countries in 90 days, to speaking over four languages in that time, to learning about all these different country’s cultures is something that I could have never imagined.

The opportunity that SJF affords its students is truly once-in-a-lifetime. With the tuition exchange being almost exactly the same as what you would pay for a semester at Fisher, why would you not want to study in a new country away from home? 

Ben Woolingham, a current student at Fisher, summed up his semester in Rome, Italy as “life changing.” He says, “an experience like this isn’t something you know you need until you live it.”

“My parents said not studying abroad was one of their biggest regrets and I had an interest in it, so when I saw what it was all about and thought of all the opportunities I’d be afforded in Italy, I knew I had to do it.”

Courses consist of in-class instruction as well as field trips. About 20% of our classes were off-site visits that included trips to various museums, churches, cultural events, neighborhoods, archaeological sites, and even restaurants to sample food and drinks. Being able to experience our class material firsthand by taking all of these trips made us students that much more interested and connected with the content we were learning. 

Only having classes Monday through Thursday is by design. The program sets it up this way in order to let the students experience the surrounding areas. As much as the Study Abroad Program is about academics and furthering your cultural understanding, it’s also about experiencing somewhere other than home. Meeting new people, trying new foods, exploring new countries and cities, and just becoming immersed in new cultures is what it’s all about. 

With our new home being in Rome, Italy, my two roommates and I were able to travel to other cities in Italy including Florence, Naples, Sorrento, Frascati, and Milan. On the weekends, we did our best to check off a few places outside of Italy that were on our bucket list:

Paris, France – Saw the Eiffel Tour and toured The Louvre. 

Interlaken, Switzerland – Skied in the Swiss Alps in Grindelwald and hiked Harder Kulm.

Barcelona, Spain – Toured Sagrada Família and went to Park Güell.

Santorini, Greece – Rented ATV’s, toured the island, and went on a catamaran across the Mediterranean sea.

“Within the first few hours of being there, we met a ton of cool people that all came from different backgrounds. We were all close friends throughout the semester and still keep in touch,” says Woolingham. While study abroad can be a lot to take in, an open mind can be your best friend. Be open to trying new things you may not have done at home, try new foods, travel, and try to put yourself out there. 

Studying abroad is about finding yourself, gaining new perspectives on life, learning the ways of others, and developing cultural awareness that may not have been presented to you before your semester abroad.

If you’re interested in exploring study abroad opportunities, contact Maria Stella Plutino Calabrese or visit her office in the lower level of Lavery Library. There are also multiple study abroad info sessions that give insight on what the programs are all about. 

The next upcoming info session will be on Thursday, March 30th. Stop by Basil 135 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. to hear more from Melissa Elliotte, the Regional Director for the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS)

Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a semester abroad: you might regret not doing it!