#MasonAbroad Student Spotlights

Meet our #MasonAbroad Alumni

After our #MasonAbroad students returned from their experiences, we asked them to name a few highlights, challenges, and their favorite food. — Here are their replies.

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Read our #MasonAbroad Stories.

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Current Submissions

Fiona Lighthiser

Major Government and International Politics
Hometown Louisville, Colorado
Study Abroad Quito, Ecuador
Highlight I loved being able to speak Spanish every day and learning slang/vocabulary specific to the region.
Challenge It was challenging to adapt to the culture, especially when learning social norms.
Favorite Food My favorite food was fruit - there was so many different types, specifically mora (Andean blackberry) and tomate de árbol (specific to Ecuador). My favorite dish was Encocado (seafood cooked in a coconut sauce - a coastal dish)

Haley Ephraim

Read Story
Major Criminology
Hometown Dallas, Texas
Study Abroad Mason Korea
Highlight Visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace with new friends.
Challenge Not speaking the language whenever we went off campus made things a little difficult.
Favorite Food Korean Barbeque

Jackie Ailstock

Major Global Affairs
Hometown Virginia Beach, Virginia
Study Abroad Chile
Highlight Submersing myself within the Chilean culture and living with an amazing host family.
Challenge Dealing with the very beginning of a global pandemic while abroad.
Favorite Food Rice and chicken sauté

Jennifer Jennings

Major Neuroscience with a double minor in Intelligence Studies and Forensic Psychology
Hometown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Study Abroad Global Gateway Australia
Highlight Visiting Rottnest Island with my cohort and taking pictures with the Quokkas!
Challenge Overcoming the time zone difference once classes were moved to an online formation due to COVID-19 (taking exams at 2am is not a schedule I would recommend).
Favorite Food Perth is known for its cultural diversity, especially when it comes to cuisine and music. Every Thursday the city would set up food trucks and performances to explore!

Jianyu Ren

Read Story
Major Business
Hometown Kunshan, China
Study Abroad Mason Korean
Highlight It helps me to adapt to the new environments better.
Challenge The language problem. I have to handle all the issues by myself without the understanding of Korean.
Favorite Food Kimchi and Toufu soup

Joanne Nasr

Major Government and International Politics
Hometown Springfield, Virginia
Study Abroad Thailand
Highlight Travelling throughout Bangkok alone via Skytrain.
Challenge Missing out on a big portion of the program because of visa issues and COVID.
Favorite Food Fried pineapples with honey, shrimp curry, and tom yum.

Katie Bartlett

Major Government and International Politics
Hometown Tampa, Florida
Study Abroad Switzerland (also including France and Belgium)
Highlight Getting to go to NATO headquarters in Belgium and learn from people who work there.
Challenge The language barrier.
Favorite Food Fondue!

Previous Submissions

Abigail Bilby

Major Global Affairs
Hometown Suffolk, Virginia
Study Abroad Oxford Semester Experience
Highlight I loved being surrounded by all of the history that Oxford has and to be able to learn in the same places where some of the greatest minds have studied. It was almost a surreal experience to be in the middle of an epicenter of hundreds of years of knowledge.
Challenge I considered myself to be a pretty good writer until I sat face to face with an expert who expected top-notch research and analysis. It was pretty challenging to realize that even if I am a good student, I really needed to be the best student I could be in order to feel like I deserved my place there.
Favorite Food £3 Meal Deal from Tesco. Sandwich. Chips. Drink. £3 even.

Abigail Hummel

Major Global Affairs, Accelerated Masters
Hometown Yorktown, Virginia
Study Abroad Oxford Semester Experience
Highlight Having my family come visit me in England at the end of my experience
Challenge Adjusting to the culture and the new time zone
Favorite Food Definitely breakfast at the local cafe down the street. My favorite there was smoked salmon with poached eggs and Oxford Sourdough toast!

Alex May

Major Global Affairs
Hometown Honolulu, Hawaii
Study Abroad United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Austria
Highlight I always meeting new people and forming close connections with not only my fellow Mason students. It was also a great experience making friends with people from other countries, or just happening to run into other Americans. It's really a small world out there when you go out and explore it.
Challenge During my time attending a program at Oxford, the classes were very much above my level at the time, and it was one of the first real challenges I'd experienced in my college career at that point, particularly the final paper.
Favorite Food Lángos, deep-fried flatbread typically served with sour cream and cheese, basically a Hungarian pizza.

Brooke Wooldridge

Major Biology
Hometown Clinton, New York
Study Abroad Canberra, Australia
Highlight One highlight of my study abroad experience was being able to scuba dive and swim next to a Sea turtle at the Great Barrier Reef.
Challenge One challenge of my study abroad experience was the difficulty of a couple of the courses I took.
Favorite Food Chicken Schnitty

Charlie Norman-Blakeney

Major Bioengineering
Hometown Alexandria, Virginia
Study Abroad Berlin, Germany Internship Program
Highlight Cooking dinner with my internship company and eating the food on the roof while we watched the sunset.
Challenge Managing my money. If not careful, you can spend a lot of money eating out and buying souvenirs for people.
Favorite Food Pulled pork sandwich from the Street Food Market at Markthalle Neun.

Greta Roberson

Major Global Affaris
Hometown Spotsylvania, Virginia
Study Abroad Ifrane, Morocco (Global Gateway)
Highlight Riding camels in the Sahara desert and spending the night in a tent under the stars
Challenge Learning to speak Arabic with locals but it is incredibly rewarding
Favorite Food Any couscous dishes!

Jazmine Jules

Major Creative Writing
Hometown Germantown, Maryland
Study Abroad Mason Korea and NUI Galway
Highlight Aimlessly walking around, enjoying the sights of both countries and taking it all in brought a genuine smile to my face.
Challenge It was a challenge to budget my money efficiently especially on my first study abroad trip to South Korea because I realized I didn't save enough.
Favorite Food I miss the convenient Korean street food that was always fun to walk around and try. I miss Supermacs curry cheese fries from Galway. They were heavenly.

Julia McCombs

Major Government and International Politics
Hometown Chesapeake, Virginia
Study Abroad Perth, Australia (Global Gateway)
Highlight Feeding kangaroos
Challenge Being away from family for so long
Favorite Food Kangaroo burgers

Juliana Pina

Major Global Community Health
Hometown Stafford, Virginia
Study Abroad Dublin, Ireland (Global Gateway)
Highlight Learning about and immersing myself in a new culture by becoming a part of the local community
Challenge Missing the familiarity and comforts of home
Favorite Food Tea and biscuits

Kalkidan Zewdu

Major Government and International Politics
Hometown Alexandria, Virginia
Study Abroad Mason Korea
Highlight There are a lot of good highlights that I experience in Korea. Out of all the highlights, I really appreciated was learning about myself and traveling independently. I felt very confident going to places and discovering the world. I met a lot of amazingly cool people that appreciate nature and culture as much as I do. I get to try new food and live in a new cultural environment which I thought was amazing.
Challenge I Felt homesick just because I've never really gotten outside of my house before. I never even traveled inside the states before I went to Korea. So it was a very new experience for me to study abroad and leave my family behind. Even though, I reminded myself how grateful I am for my study abroad opportunity I easily got overcome my challenges.
Favorite Food Topokki and Gimbal

Liz Hardiman

Read Story
Major Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Hometown Massapequa, New York
Study Abroad Santiago, Chile and Budapest, Hungary
Highlight Too many to count, seeing wild horses in the Andes mountains, and wandering around Budapest are two of the big ones.
Challenge Fitting in all the sightseeing.
Favorite Food Alfajores in Chile (a traditional caramel pasty) and Lángos in Hungary- a fried bread topped with sour cream, and cheese.

Nickolyn Jackson

Major Anthropology and Biology
Hometown Woodstock, Illinois
Study Abroad Florence Semester Experience (Italy); Andean Archaeology (Peru)
Highlight Witnessing an active excavation of skeletal remains in Huanchaco, Peru and celebrating my 19th birthday in Florence (Italy) with my amazing host family
Challenge It was difficult to study abroad during my freshman year but worth the challenge.
Favorite Food Risotto

Phillip Robinson

Major Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Hometown Fairfax, Virginia
Study Abroad Chinese Language in Beijing, China
Highlight All of the connections I made and the people that I met was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have best friends across the world now that I check on frequently.
Challenge The ability to pick up the language as I went along proved to be difficult because of the different nuances of Chinese.
Favorite Food Dumplings

Sarah Loveday

Major History
Hometown Fairfax, Virginia
Study Abroad Zanzibar, Tanzania
Highlight The best part of my Study Abroad was getting to experience new culture and having the opportunity to try new things.
Challenge My biggest challenge was being worried about being in an area I was unfamiliar with and being with people I was unfamiliar with. I was surprised how comfortable I was by the time we left.
Favorite Food Samosa

Sasha May

Major Business Management
Hometown Fairfax, Virginia
Study Abroad Mason Korea (3 semesters), Global Gateway
Highlight Befriending numerous local business owners within both Songdo and Seoul, of which I am still friends with to this day
Challenge After having been an off-campus commuter student at Mason, studying abroad provided me with the independence of living on my own for the very first time. Along with the abrupt immersion to life in South Korea, this prompted significant personal growth.
Favorite Food Dolsot Bibimbap

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