SMCVT.edu: Student-Athletes Coppola and Navarrete Share Stories from Studying Abroad

SMCVT.edu: Student-Athletes Coppola and Navarrete Share Stories from Studying Abroad

This story originally appeared on SMCVT.edu. Also view a PDF on SMCAthletics.com here.


By Kaylee Sayers '23

The study abroad experience at Saint Michael's College is one of the most sought-after aspects of a Saint Michael's education by current and prospective students. The College's Study Abroad website states that Saint Michael's "offers programs in five categories: intensive language, university liberal studies, community-engaged learning, international internships, and field-based research."

Peggy Imai, the director of the Study Abroad Office, engages with students during the planning process and helps them select the best program for each individual scholar. During the 2022 spring semester, 25 students are dispersing across the globe from Glasgow, Scotland, to Zanzibar, Tanzania, to experience a semester abroad.

Men's cross country runner Will Coppola '23 (Groveland, Mass./Pentucket Regional), a transfer student from Groveland, Mass., is a media studies, journalism & digital arts (MJD) major currently studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). "I realized I had to study abroad for my major requirement a few weeks before the application deadline," Coppola said. "I am extremely happy to be here and felt like I made the right call ... I've met a lot of great people in my program and have had a lot of cool experiences." Coppola is studying at the Faculty of Arts Department at Charles University and is taking a photography class, a music history class, a Slovak film class, and a Czech language class.

In terms of COVID-19, Coppola shared that the university has an indoor mask mandate and requirement to quarantine when testing positive. "In most places," he shared, "with proof of vaccination, you are able to not wear a mask. Lots of restaurants require this vaccination and will not let you in without it." Overall, he describes it as not being so different from COVID-19 restrictions in the United States. For students who are thinking about studying abroad, Coppola recommends bringing posters or art to add some personality to the living space as well as an extra bag. "I have a lot of new stuff and don't know what I am going to do with it all in May," Coppola joked.

Alexis Brulé '23, a junior from Holden, Mass., is a psychology major with a biology minor currently studying abroad in Stockholm, Sweden, through the Danish Institution for Study Abroad (DIS) program. Stockholm was not Brulé's first choice for studying abroad; she was more interested in Ireland or Scotland, but she shared, "Sweden just had the best academic program. Choosing a program based on the academics allowed me to experience an entirely new situation that I did not consider to be an option!"

Sweden's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted roughly two weeks after Brulé arrived in Stockholm, so "COVID has not really affected my study abroad experience. It's been very interesting. There's no mask mandate anywhere, but I stay vigilant and make sure to wear mine still. It's weird getting back to the norm," Brulé said with a shrug. Brulé shared that her favorite memory abroad so far has been swimming in the Mediterranean Sea with a friend she met while abroad. "We took a trip to Nice in the south of France, and even though the water was freezing, we jumped in any way!"

Women's soccer student-athlete Aisha Navarrete '23 (Pawlet, Vt./Burr and Burton Academy), a junior international relations major, was raised biculturally in Mexico and Southern Vermont and is currently studying abroad in Zanzibar, Tanzania, through the School for International Training (SIT) program. Her main location is the island of Unguja, but she will travel to other islands such as Pemba as well as the mainland city of Dar Es Salaam through the duration of her stay.

"Originally, I signed up for the Samoa SIT study abroad program, but it got canceled ... turns out I was meant to go to Africa, and so here I am!" While abroad, Navarrete is studying Swahili, Natural Resource Management, and Coastal Ecology all in tandem with an independent study project finalized in the last month of the semester. "A lot of these projects often end up vastly helping the community and are actually applied," Navarrete said. Her goals for after college will be informed heavily by her abroad experience, especially because her program puts an emphasis on the science behind environmental studies. "While this transition was not easy for me, and sometimes it still isn't for me, one of the most amazing things about this trip has been knowing that I can do it. Struggling with anxiety sometimes feels debilitating, but it is comforting to know that I am strong enough to be across the world," Navarrete reflected with pride. She recommends that students who are looking to study abroad should bring extra snacks and toiletries as well as their own pillow.