L-R: Karen Medina, Jane Bukovec, Marissa Tremoglie, Sarah Cooney and Valerie Jenkins
It is commonly thought that it is essentially impossible for science majors to study abroad. Between labs, which can’t be taken abroad, and meeting requirements for medical or graduate school, it’s difficult to clear a whole semester. Add a second major, a few minors, the honors program, research and countless other activities and obligations, and it gets even more complicated. However the McNulty women of the class of 2017 were determined to make it work. Through careful planning, they were able to do just that, fulfilling lifelong dreams, gaining global experience and serving communities far beyond the Philadelphia city limits.
The women have shared some of their tips for fitting in a trip abroad, and their favorite memories and experiences that shaped who they are and where they will go tomorrow.
Karen Medina (Environmental Science)
Studying abroad in Denmark was more than I ever thought it would be. While there, I studied about renewable energy and sustainability. I climbed a windmill to learn how they work. (The view from up there was fantastic–and a little chilly!) In my Environmental Sustainability class, I put our lessons about sustainable (and healthier!) means of transportation into practice by riding my bike everywhere I went! I also rode on a train that was carried by a ferry en route to Germany. which was another unforgettable experience. Apart from my science courses, I learned more about Ancient Greek art and had the chance to go to different museums around Copenhagen and private art collections.
Outside of academics, I stayed with a Danish family who showed me around the country. My two little Danish “brothers” taught me some Danish words and shared the magic of Danish castles. Together we also cooked different traditional Danish meals (which were, needless to say, delicious). Overall, studying abroad was an experience that helped me grow while exploring new countries, and it is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone who can do it! The 4 1/2 months that I was able to spend in Denmark have been among my favorite times since coming to SJU.
Jane Bukovec (Actuarial Science and Italian)
I have had the unique opportunity to study abroad twice during my college years. I first spent a month in Rome with SJU’s Summer in Rome program after my freshman year. My experience in Rome was so wonderful that I knew by the end of the month that I just had to return to Italy. During the fall of my junior year, I spent a semester abroad in Florence. Although Florence was very different from Rome, I enjoyed it just as much. I think that studying abroad was the biggest contribution to my liberal arts education. Abroad, I was able to learn about things I otherwise would have never had the opportunity–things that gave me a different appreciation for life. Because of my experiences abroad, I’ve changed my minor in Italian into a second major, and I hope to work in Italy in my future career.
Marissa Tremoglie (Biology)
One of the best opportunities afforded to students by SJU is the ability to study abroad, something even a science major can accomplish. Since I came to college, I knew that i wanted to maintain and complete my many minors, as well as my research position, yet I still wanted the opportunity to study abroad. Luckily, St. Joe’s offers study tours during the summer. For 3 weeks, I was able to travel to Nicaragua, study their health care system and get course credit for this work. While there, I developed great friendships with the handful of students who took the course. I learned more about different methods of health care delivery and the problems facing Nicaragua, and had the opportunity to reflect on my own career interests and goals along the way. Those 3 weeks proved to be some of the most educational during my time at SJU.
Sarah Cooney (Mathematics and Computer Science)
My spreadsheets are a bit famous within my circle of friends at SJU, especially my color-coded 4-year plan laying out all of the requirements for both of my majors and the general education program. Ever since I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Sweden one summer during high school, I’ve known without a doubt that I wanted to spend a semester abroad during college. My freshman year, as I signed the paperwork to take on a second major in computer science, I knew that I would have to be more organized than ever to make my dream a reality. Thus the spreadsheet was born.
I ended up spending my junior spring semester in Cork, Ireland. It was such a unique and wonderful experience. Academically, I had the opportunity to take an interesting and challenging math course that stretched my abilities as a mathematician, and to study American literature from the point of view of an outsider. I also traveled all over Ireland and made it to 8 countries besides. There were certainly big moments–kissing the Blarney Stone, seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, reconnecting with my Swedish host sister after 5 years, and many more–but it was the whole experience–big moments and little–that stretched me as a person and made me recognize and reconsider my cultural biases and assumptions.
You have to plan carefully and start making plans early, but I truly believe everyone–science majors too!–should do what it takes to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Whether it’s a week-long study tour or a whole semester, studying abroad is an experience that is impossible to regret.
Valerie Jenkins (Chemical Biology)
I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain during the fall semester of my junior year. I had always dreamed of studying abroad in a foreign country for a semester, learning a new language and traveling throughout Europe. However, I was concerned that as a chemical biology major with minors in philosophy and health care ethics, and research commitments that I would be unable to study abroad for an entire semester. During my sophomore year, I became determined to make my dream a reality. As much as I love science and working in the lab, it was such a breath of fresh air to experience a different lifestyle and pursue other interests such as art, writing, traveling and different languages for a semester. I lived with a Spanish-speaking host family that did not speak English. This challenged me to consistently work on my Spanish language skills and find creative ways to communicate with my hosts. I traveled to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Portugal, Morocco and to many different cities and towns throughout Spain. I now have friends in Spain, Germany and across the United States. As impossible as it seems to study abroad as a math, computer science or natural sciences major, I promise you–it is possible and, above all, life changing!