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PC Friars Visit CEA Rome!

What do study abroad and college basketball have in common? Last week, the two came together in the Eternal City when the Providence College Friars visited the CEA Rome Center!

CEA Rome and Providence College’s Center for Theology & Religious Studies have enjoyed a long partnership, so it only makes sense that the Friars should drop by as they wound up their 10-day Italy Tour. When the team (2014 Big East Conference Champions, BTW) wasn’t busy winning their three games – vs. the Nelson Somma All Stars, the Perugia Wolves, and Tiber Basket – they were exploring cities like Milan, Venice, and Florence. The Friars finished up their Italian adventure with two days in Rome, where, along with tours of the Colosseum and Vatican City, the team got a first-hand look at the CEA Rome Center.


Along with Friars’ Athletic Director Robert G. Driscoll, Jr., Head Coach Ed Cooley, and Providence’s Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Father Mark Nowel, the 10 players toured our Center and learned about the study abroad opportunities made possible by the unique collaboration between Providence College and CEA.

Study abroad programs through Providence’s Center for Theology & Religious Studies – housed at CEA Rome – allows students to develop a deeper understanding of theology, gain first-hand knowledge of local culture, and experience personal and academic growth in a city where the secular and the religious have blended for centuries. Each year, CEA and PC team up to provide more than 50 students with a life-changing experience abroad through courses like:
  • The New Testament in the Eternal City
  • Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Italian
  • Angels, Demons, & Artists In Rome: Art Through the Ages
  • International Marketing
  • Basic Operations Management
(Hmm… sounds like a great way to take some of your religion, history, or other electives!)

The CEA Team, including Vice President of Program Management & Development Dr. Jose B. Alvarez and Center Director Anna Felberbaum, also discussed opportunities for student athletes to study abroad. Training and game schedules may make it challenging for athletes to do a semester-long program, but they can have the best of both worlds by checking out our summer or short-term programs.

Plus, studying abroad and a love for sports are a perfect pair! Many CEA students even bring their love of sports along when they study overseas. For instance, Patrick Gradus volunteered to coach the Prague Lions American Football Club when he was in the Czech Republic. Shane Heckman studied Sport & Culture in Contemporary Spain while he was abroad in Barcelona, and Danielle Banks learned to enjoy fútbol matches in Chile almost as much as her beloved Texas A&M football.

We loved hosting the PC Friars in Rome and wish them the best of luck as they head back to Providence to start practicing for their game season. Go Friars!

Interested in how you can explore the hobbies you love while studying abroad? Check out what other students say and see where you can go!
Clark Gilford, a junior from the University of Oklahoma, shares some of his experience as an academic all year student in Barcelona, Spain (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014).  

I am a junior at the University of Oklahoma with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. I have done many hands-on activities with my major, but I was lacking real-world experience for my minor. For that reason, I started thinking about ways to improve my Spanish. I went to talk with a study abroad advisor, and she recommended CEA. I saw the cities available, and Barcelona seemed the most appealing because I thought it would be great to get what I needed while being on the other side of the world. I had thought about studying in a place like Mexico or Colombia, but since my scholarship would cover all the costs, I thought I would take advantage of it and adventure further away from home. One of the conditions to my scholarship was studying abroad for an entire year. I had not traveled to another country before and was intimated by the thought of going for a whole year but I stayed committed to the process.

CEA Weekend Trip to the Pyrenees
Looking back, my expectations were relatively low compared to what I actually have learned. I was just focused on studying and learning more Spanish from the books. It has always been a priority for me to study, but being in Barcelona has taught me that there truly is more to learn outside the classroom with practice. I became more fluent every day simply by engaging in conversation with locals and friends. I was also taken by surprise with the laid-back culture of Spain. I was expecting a similar culture to the US, just with a different language. Although the “siesta” produces misleading stereotypes, the general culture is simply much more caring than any other place I’ve ever been. They highly value time with family and friends and I became a warmer person by being forced to communicate with the rhythm of the people, who are much more willing to talk than the general culture I know back home.

One of my classes at the Universidad de Barcelona

Local students from the UAB university - Fall '13

I am very happy I made the choice to live with a homestay family because it provided me exactly what I wanted: a better hands-on experience while studying abroad. I used my Spanish in real and practical ways everyday with my host-family. Living with a host-family exposed me to different aspects of the language and culture that otherwise I would not have learned. For example, I practiced my second language more than other students, and I was more enthusiastic to learn everyday Spanish words and phrases. I also was more involved in cultural activities with the homestay family, while other students engaged in more touristic activities. Each person in the family was nice and I felt they sincerely cared about me. I learned things from them like how to eat healthier and searching for activities in the city. For instance, the host-mom was vegetarian and my host-brother had to go on special diets sometimes with gluten intolerance. For that, I ate a lot more fruits and vegetables than I did in the US, along with soy products and decreased sugar (but they did cook meat for me, and bought other “normal” staples). I also realized that they spend less time watching television. They do more reading, going for walks in the city, and going to local events such as festivals, runs, special offers in museums and cinema, etc.

My host family - Mercè, Eli, and Miquel
I enjoyed finding a more stable lifestyle in Barcelona, figuring out different parts of me I didn’t know I had such as learning to get over uncomfortable situations and how much I seek being alone sometimes. It took time, but I became more comfortable in my environment by adjusting. For example, I found an international church, and brought my saxophone back from home the second semester to play there the remaining months. I also volunteered during the whole academic year at a home for children with special needs. I participated in homeless ministry, I went to watch my host-brother’s soccer games, and I had several intercambio partners to practice different topics of Spanish. These activities really helped me stay connected to who I am back home, a person active in ministry activities and being involved with volunteering while watching local sports and talking with new people just for talking. Nonetheless, I have changed a lot mostly by feeling like I have less of an agenda of what I thought I had to be, and I’m more comfortable showing people who I actually am.

Homeless Ministry
Barcelona changed me immensely, and I appreciate the experience. I thank the whole staff at CEA, Merçe, Miquel, Elisabet and many other friends for helping me to have a great time in the once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Some of the best people I know

Some folks from CEA

I think it has something to do with everyone being mutually confused and excited, but people aren’t joking when they say your friends from study abroad become your friends for life. There is just something special about every study abroad experience; only the people that were there with you really understand where you are coming from. The cool part is that this includes your CEA study abroad leaders and directors, too.

Leo, my roommate and I at our farewell dinner.
As I wrap up my time interning with Program Directors, Maggie and Leo, at the CEA San Jose location, here are three ways you may bond with your onsite team when you study abroad:

Fun: It is probably no surprise, but being away from friends, family, home, and everything familiar for an extended amount of time can be difficult in many different ways. Oftentimes these difficulties are not something the students can address themselves. Cue program director! As described in my past post, the Directors have to wear many different hats on a daily basis, but throughout everything the primary goal is to help the students to feel as safe, comfortable, and happy as possible.

Leo & Maggie

Friends: Program Directors also work very hard to plan enjoyable cultural activities and excursions,  many of which they accompany students! As a result of the constant availability, desire to help, and proximity on trips, Program Directors become pretty good friends with the students.

Family: On this matter, I can speak from experience. After being in Costa Rica for three months, I left thinking of Maggie and Leo more as friends than separate authorities. While I did have to reach out to them occasionally about logistical questions or business-like things, we have stayed in touch mostly due to our shared passion of study abroad and a desire to be mutually helpful to each other in whatever ways possible. I know that if I ever need a letter of recommendation or travel advice from people who have been there, I can contact Maggie or Leo. They know if they ever need somewhere to stay in my area of the US or a student’s perspective on CEA issues, I would be happy to accommodate.

Leo, Marissa and I at Volcan Irazu.
And the list goes on. But the important thing to remember, much more than the beneficial reciprocity, is that your Program Directors are people, too. Something to keep in mind if you’re about to go abroad or something you already know if you have returned from a program: While they are not in the same boat as you in terms of immersion into a completely new culture, your CEA leaders are still interested in having fun and making friends from other cultures!

Macey Hallstedt is a Winter 2013 CEA San José alumna, CEA Senior Alumni Ambassador at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and currently a summer 2014 CEA Alumni Ambassador intern in San José. Don’t miss her next post about her connection with her host family!