A CAPA Study Abroad Alumna and Ambassador Interview with Sharon Sanchez
Meet Sharon Sanchez, a Riverside City College student studying to be a registered nurse. She studied abroad in Florence, an experience that helped her grow both personally and professionally. Below, she talked a bit more about her first impressions of the city, why she applied to be a CAPA Ambassador, and shares how this experience will impact her future career.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
SHARON SANCHEZ: I'm 25 years old, I'm currently a student at Riverside City College, and my major is registered nursing. I studied abroad in the city of Florence, and I completely fell in love with it. I don't find much time for hobbies, but my days mainly consist of going to school, doing homework, and going to the gym.
CW: What were your first impressions of your host city? How did these change over the course of the semester?
SS: When we were waiting outside the airport for our taxi after landing in Florence, I remember thinking, "Am I in Mexico?" The weather, the streets, the way people drive, and some of the buildings reminded me so much of the city in Mexico where my grandmother lives. Over the course of the next few days, I began to see the unique beauty and history of Florence; it no longer reminded me of any place I had ever been to before.
CW: What was your favorite class abroad?
SS: While abroad, I really enjoyed my general psychology class. I was able to learn and apply the psychological concepts to the Italian culture and the culture I'm used to in the US.
CW: Why did you choose CAPA for your study abroad program?
SS: The only study abroad option offered by my college campus was through CAPA, but CAPA is a great program for studying abroad and the staff (globally) is very helpful.
CW: What is one of your favorite memories of your time abroad? We know there are probably a lot to choose from!
SS: One of my favorite memories abroad was the first weekend there. My sister also participated in the same study abroad program and we were in our apartment bored since we still hadn't really gotten to meet the people in our program. I remember telling her, "Let's go for a walk somewhere. Let's see where we end up. Let's look for a good authentic place to eat. We can't just sit in here—we're in Italy! Let's explore!" We ended up walking to the Duomo and discovering what the city was really like.
Another part of studying abroad that I will always remember is going to Venice for the first time. I had always dreamed of going to Venice one day, and it felt so unreal to finally make my dream a reality.
CW: What made you decide to apply for CAPA's Ambassador Program?
SS: The reason I decided to apply for CAPA's Ambassador Program was because I fell in love with the experience of studying abroad so much that I wanted to promote it. It's an experience I like to share with everyone, whether they're students or not. I even tell family members to start saving for when their kids grow up.
CW: What has been your favorite part of the Ambassador Program and what is the biggest challenge?
SS: My favorite part about the Ambassador Program was being able to talk about my study abroad experience and having people who want to experience studying abroad actually listen to my story and even admire my adventures. The biggest challenge was stepping out of my comfort zone and doing classroom visits to promote the program. I have disliked sales jobs, so what I thought were "sales-like" tasks were a bit hard at first.
CW: What transferable skills did you take away from your time abroad that will help you in your future career?
SS: My time studying abroad has aided me in my communication skills with cultural and diverse experiences. These skills will help me in my career by being able to better understand the needs of my future patients and communicate with them.
CW: What do you see yourself doing when you graduate? Did your experience abroad in any way shape your career goals and aspirations? If so, how?
SS: I plan to pursue my nursing career after graduating, but after studying abroad I have been looking into travel nursing. I enjoyed experiencing a different lifestyle and culture so the best way to combine travel and helping people is through travel nursing.
CW: What is the greatest piece of advice you have for future study abroad students?
SS: My greatest advice for future study abroad students is to not let your comfort zone keep you from trying new things or seeing new places. The point of this experience is to discover yourself.