Student Testimonials

Ermida Koduah

American University, Dubai

I was born in Brescia, Italy to Ghanaian parents and moved to the United States at the age of 4 which instilled in me a passion for travel at a young age. Growing up in New York City further sparked my interest in wanting to learn more about other cultures and visit foreign counties. However, my family did not have sufficient economic resources for me to travel and explore. In addition, they were worried I was not old enough to travel on my own. Therefore, at the age of 13, I made it a goal to study abroad once I went to college. Luckily, deciding to go to an institute like SUNY Albany was a great choice because SUNY Albany has over 100 different study abroad programs. >>

Bethany Reichen

Culture and Customs of Senegal, Senegal, Africa

Every day since I came home, someone has asked me "How was your trip?" and all I can do is smile and tell them "it was amazing!" And then they look at me, expecting more, and for once in my life, I have nothing else to say.

So if you are one of those people, I am sorry. If you have been reading this as I went, then maybe you can understand why it was amazing, although that still does not excuse my lack of further explanation. >>

Miguel Astor-Aguilera

Quintana Roo, Mexico
Fulbright Grantee

Miguel Astor-Aguilera (Anthropology 2004 Ph.D. University at Albany/SUNY) is an Arizona State University Associate Professor of Religious Studies/Director of Graduate Studies whose scholarship concentrates on ethnography, material culture, archaeology, and socio-religious theory. He was awarded a 2001–2002 Fulbright Dissertation Research Grant to conduct ethnographic research in Quintana Roo, Mexico. >>


Shaun Johnson

AIP Language Institute, Valencia, Spain

Fireworks are exploding all around me. It's day three of "Las Fallas," the second largest festival on the planet, and my homework assignment is simple: to stay out until dawn.

For the past two months I have been studying in Valencia, Spain at the AIP Language Institute and Las Fallas has been one of the many wonderful events I've experienced. Typical days at AIP include classes of Spanish language, history, art, and cinema. Afternoons involve swimming in the Mediterranean Sea along with pick-up games of soccer and volleyball at the "playa maravillosa," a beach that is most appropriately named. The day ends with a well-prepared dinner made by my loving host family. These dinners have taught me how to properly use olive oil, and that no Spanish dinner is complete without a few slices of jamón serrano (or dry-cured Spanish ham), a staple found throughout the Iberian Peninsula.>>

Gina Geffrard

Foundation for International Education Program

"Seeing as this is my last summer as an undergraduate, I wanted to do something big, something that would benefit me immensely for the future, change my life, and expose me to things I would not be able to see and do in Albany or even New York City. So I decided that I wanted to do an internship in London, England," said Geffrard. >>


David Crawford Jones

National Archives of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
Fulbright Grantee

David Crawford Jones (SUNY Albany, History MA 2007, PhD 2014) conducted ten months of research in Namibia in 2009 on a Fulbright grant. Working in the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek while conducting oral interviews throughout the country, David collected histories of crime and punishment in twentieth century Namibia, when the country was colonized by apartheid South Africa. >>

Timothy Smith

Indigenous Municipal Government of Solola, Guatemala
Fulbright Grantee

Dr. Timothy Smith was a Fulbright Grant recipient for 2000-2001 (Guatemala). Over the course of the year, he worked with the Indigenous Municipal Government of Solola and with various indigenous NGO’s that culminated in the first bilingual social science text produced in both Kaqchikel Mayan and Spanish. After returning from his Fulbright year, he spent two years at Harvard University and Columbia University writing up his dissertation on... >>

Deanna White

Martin Luther King Center, Havana, Cuba

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center is an example of an organization that uses the values of the Cuban Revolution to better the people in its community locally and globally through efforts of solidarity, popular education, and the church. I am thankful for my experiences with this center, to be among some of the most incredible people who live solidarity every single day of their lives like I have never seen before. I am thankful for the opportunity to understand alternative methods of going about improving society, and I am sure to incorporate what I have learned here in any future organization that I plan to start, using horizontal mechanisms to create change. However, mostly, I am thankful to feel solidarity in a way that I have never felt it before and I, with my full heart, will try to act in solidarity each day of my life. >>

Brittany Santos

Global Service Corps, Tanzania, Africa

I studied abroad in Africa during the summer of 2014. My program took place in Arusha, Tanzania for nine weeks and was a community service based program through the Global Service Corps, which was offered at SUNY Albany for nine credits, and consisted of HIV/AIDS prevention and nutrition education along with agricultural sustainability education. My decision to do a study abroad program became definite after I spoke with a friend who was also doing a study abroad program in Brazil for the summer as well. I knew this program fit me well-being that it wasn’t a typical study abroad where you would learn material in a classroom, like we do here in America, but rather a more hands on experience where you would actually help people in the community while at the same time be able to experience the culture first hand. After committing to the program, I already knew that my only regret was not deciding to do it sooner so that I could have done it for a full semester rather than nine weeks, which is still my only regret. >> 

Frank Le

Critical Language Scholarship, Japan

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS, is a scholarship program that is sponsored by the government to promote intensive learning of critical languages. It is fully-funded by the government (including airfare, room and board) and takes place during the summer. A program like this is very convenient for busy people majoring in fields that require specific core classes each semester. Much like studying abroad at a university, you can also earn school credits from participating in the program. Some of the target languages for the CLS require some prior knowledge of the language, but for other languages, no knowledge is acceptable. >>

Julianne Landon

International Institute, Madrid, Spain

My semester in Spain went very well. I really enjoyed taking classes, meeting my professors and had a wonderful internship with the Centro de Acogida a refugiados (Refugee Reception Centre). While there, I conducted entrance interviews with new residents, helped them register with Town Hall, requested records and attended doctor appointments to help translate.


Erica Miller

Universidad del Salvador (USAL), Buenos Aires, Argentina

I studied abroad at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the 2012-2013 academic year. As a Spanish major, I went hoping to improve my fluency in Spanish, but in the end, I got so much more out of it. I found myself in an amazing, colorful, chaotic city that never ceased to fascinate me, even after being there for almost a year. Buenos Aires is a blend of Europe and South America and the whole country is a place rich in history and culture. It is a place that is politically charged, caught between a recent turbulent past and their future. I was inspired by how passionate and involved all young people were in politics and government. Through my classes, talking with friends, witnessing strikes and protests over government, economics and class struggle, I learned to really educate myself on current events and politics, and formed my own political opinions, things that we don’t always encourage young people to do in the US. >>

Emmerline Francesca Nelson

United States International University, Kenya, Africa

I studied abroad in the beautiful city of Nairobi, Kenya located in East Africa in the spring of 2013. I have always desired to study abroad but I believed that I lacked funding to do so. However, I put all of my doubts and negative thoughts aside and decided to visit the study abroad fair during the Fall semester of 2012. I learned about KEI (Knowledge Exchange Institute) in partnership with SUNY Albany’s study abroad program offered at the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi, Kenya. At that moment I promised myself that I would do anything in my power to participate in the program. Although I became excited and eager after being accepted into the program, on the plane I became sad and felt alone. It hit me that I would be living in a foreign country without any family or friends for three months. I was scared. However, upon arrival I realized that I was not alone. >>

Smiley Rojas-Nunez

Spanish Language & Chilean Culture at ECELA, Santiago, Chile

Warm weather, blue skies and the bright shining sun. This is not the scenery I am used to seeing on December 30th, but this is the beautiful sight I was able to see when I touched down in Santiago, Chile for my study abroad trip this past wintersession. After getting to know the other students who were traveling abroad with me at the airport, we all loaded up into a taxi and then I was dropped off at my host family’s house. Coming from living in a dorm, it was strange to be in such a beautiful home, and it took a while to get used to the fact that that’s where I would be living for the next three weeks. I was first greeted by the father of the house, who took the time to explain to me what life was like in Chile. He could speak both English and Spanish, but as a native Spanish speaker, I was ready and willing to improve my Spanish. >>

Melissa Newkirk

Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

For me, one of the most exciting prospects of transferring to university from community college was the chance to do a study abroad. During the first weeks of my first semester a study abroad coordinator came to talk to my class about the benefits of doing an exchange and really put the seed into my head. I wandered into the study abroad office and looked over the many options of the different places in the world UAlbany could send me to. I felt the majority of students end up choosing Europe as their destination, and with that in mind I decided I wanted to go somewhere that was in complete contrast of US culture. I made my decision to apply for the Fall 2010 program to Seoul, South Korea. Although the paperwork seemed overwhelming, the step by step process helped to minimize the stress and besides the international studies office was always there to help with any questions or confusion I had.>>

Emily Finnegan

WE BUILD 2011, Bangalore, India

This past summer, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to live, study, and work with international students from all over the world in Bangalore, India. The program, WE BUILD 2011, was sponsored by the Indian non-profit Global Citizens for Sustainable Development (GCSD) and centered around this idea of what it means to be a global citizen. What made it a truly unique experience was that after studying Indian culture, development issues and global social justice movements, we were able to contribute to sustainable development in India by partaking in a 10 day building project in rural Bangalore. >>

Emily was also recognized as the 2012 Tulip Queen at the Albany Tulip Festival on Saturday, May 12, 2012!

Mike Bresnahan

National University of Ireland, Galway

I was incredibly excited when I started thinking about going to Ireland (and the rest of Europe) for a full semester, and despite the minor annoyance of paperwork, I finished it all and got ready for my semester abroad. Going back to school about 15 days early was discouraging at first, but once again, it was well worth it. >>

Christopher Onuorah

AIDE Program, South Africa

In May 2011, I went on a study abroad trip to Cape Town, South Africa, along with another UAlbany Student, Tiffanie Perea. We went there to volunteer in the the townships. While there, I volunteered with a non-profit organization, the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP). >>

Kim Moonan

Valencia, Spain and Santiago, Chile

This year's recipients of the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence includes two-time study abroad participant Kimberly Moonan. The prestigious award recognizes students in the graduating class who have demonstrated the highest levels of academic excellence and made significant contributions to campus life at their respective universities.>>

Heather Senecal

Uganda LINKAGES Program Summer 2009

I am currently in my second year of the MPA program at Rockefeller College. Within the MPA program, I am concentrating in the areas of information management and policy analysis. This past summer I had the pleasure of living and working in Kampala, Uganda on a SUNY/CID (Center for International Development, Rockefeller College) project. For three months I was based in the Strengthening Democratic Linkages in Uganda (LINKAGES) office. >>

Diane Van Dusen

Ghana Medical Mission

The summer of 2009 I was able to experience a rare and exceptional learning experience by traveling to Ghana on a Medical Mission to help improve the lives of memory impaired elders and their caregivers. I will be forever grateful to faculty and students at SUNY School of Social Welfare and the International Studies Department for the encouragement and support that helped make this project a reality.

In 2007, Rev. Alice Kyei-Anti, a Presbyterian minister from Ghana, was visiting the Albany area as a guest of the Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC). >>

Meher Singh

Cape Town, South Africa Program

Quite honestly, I did not do much research before going into it. My father had advised that I should study abroad in an English speaking country and of all my choices, South Africa seemed the most full of life. I decided I would go to Cape Town. Of course, I didn’t really know what that meant, at least, not until I got there!>>

Danielle DeLeo

Spain-Valencia Program

I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, but it was never a reality until I was in the plane on my way to Spain. It was the most unique feeling I've ever experienced. Half of me was thinking I was crazy for just leaving my life at home and going by myself to live in a new country in which I don't speak the language, to live with an unknown family, in an unknown city, with a group of other students I had never met before. But the other half of me was euphoric. I was following my heart and doing what I wanted to do. Little did I know that it was more than just a trip, but a life changing experience. I am forever a different person with a new outlook on life and the world all together. The moment I set foot on that plane I began a whole new chapter in my life, and I am forever grateful. When I try to describe my thoughts and feelings about my year abroad, I simply run out of adjectives. >>

Kenza Martin

Germany-Braunschweig Program

Before taking part in SENSE, I could have never imagined research to be fun .Actually, I did not like research at all. I am studying Human Biology as a major. Later on, I want to become a doctor. That is why I need to go to a Medical School. I had never worked in a laboratory and never ever thought of doing so. Then I chose to take part in SENSE because I needed to get laboratory experience for my studies. The program gave me the opportunity to travel while doing this. Additionally, I expected that SENSE would give me an opportunity to explore biology from a laboratory focus, as well as meeting others. >>