Caitly Reynoso, Class of 2019, knows how to maximize her study abroad opportunities here at Wheaton! A double major in Business & Management and Film & New Media Studies, Caitly has traveled to Ghana and Rwanda on short-term programs with President Hanno.
Most recently, she spent her entire junior year studying abroad – first with a fall semester in New Zealand at the University of Auckland, followed by a spring semester in Italy through Middlebury College.
For her semester in Italy, Caitly was awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a competitive national scholarship awarded through the US State Department for undergraduate study abroad.
Check out our five questions for Caitly to learn more about her study abroad experiences:
Favorite thing to do while abroad?
“I think my favorite thing to do while abroad was eat new types of food. Although it sounds silly, before going abroad I never ate broccoli or carrots and I was only willing to give those vegetables a chance because I was developing a much more diverse mentality. I also ate dumplings, Pad Thai, quiche, tiramisu, and so much more for the first time while abroad. Eating also allowed me to bond with other students who were also studying abroad and wanted to try new things.”
Where did you live while studying abroad?
“In Florence I lived with a host family – a father, mother and two children; it was definitely the highlight of my experience. I chose a host family with children because it would allow me to practice my Italian without being harshly criticized. In addition to this, my host parents were incredible cooks and I was satisfied pretty much with every meal they prepared for us. I also lived with two other American students studying abroad and I was able to established life-long friendships with them – I already met up with them once in NYC since being back.
In New Zealand I lived in campus housing. My housing accommodations was a suite style and the RAs created lots of programming, giving me the opportunity to meet different people. I definitely enjoyed the host family option the most, but I am happy to have experience two diverse accommodation options.”
What do you wish you had known before you studied abroad?
“I knew it would be expensive, but I didn’t realize how intensely I would have to obey my monthly budgets.”
What tips would you give Wheaton students who are considering studying abroad?
“I think it’s very important to not go in with any expectations. In many ways studying abroad will be insightful, amazing, and unforgettable, but in many ways it can also be challenging and isolating. It’s essential to be very aware of oneself – your words, actions, feelings, and thoughts – consistently throughout a study abroad experience. Without this you won’t be able to get out of uncomfortable situation if you ever find yourself in one, or without recognizing what your desires are from a study abroad experience, you may also rob yourself of incredible opportunities.”
Did you learn anything about yourself while abroad? Surprise yourself in any way?
“I learned that I am more patient than I thought I could be. Particularly in Italy, where the academic system is very unique. By this I mean: chaotic, dysfunctional and disorganized. I am used to getting a syllabus and descriptions of assignments in advance, but that was not common in Italy. I was able to navigate that pretty well once I realized I was the only student in the room concerned/panicking.”