Spring 2016

Nicole “Coley” Gmeinder – Italy (UW in Florence)

Gmeinder, Coley pictureVitals: Strategic Communication Major, Business &Digital Studies Minor

Goals:  I’m looking forward to exploring new cultures, cities and people. I would love to learn more Italian and visit as many places as possible!

Motivation:  I’m part Italian and from what I’ve seen it’s a beautiful place. My family has always talked about visiting and now they have an excuse! I also wanted new scenery and a different change of pace than what I’ve experienced in the past two years of college. Getting to immerse myself in a new environment will be challenging yet invigorating and I cannot wait for the experience!


Melanie Kohls – Wales (University of Cardiff)

Kohls, Melanie pictureVitals: Senior, majoring in Zoology and Environmental Studies

Goals:  Soak it all in.  First Wales, then the rest of Europe!  When I’m not studying I want to be seeing and doing as much as possible: tours, hiking, museums, restaurants, learning new languages, all of it.

Motivation:  I took two short trips to Europe when I was 13 and 18, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  Cardiff has a great science program, so I know I’ll get a lot out of my classes there.  And Wales is a beautiful country!  It’s also fairly easy to travel from Wales to England and beyond, so I can see everything I want to see.

Previous overseas travel:  Italy, England


Mary Larson – Morocco (UMN)

Larson, Mary pictureVitals: International Studies major with certificates in French and Middle East Studies

Goals: I look forward to improving my communication in Arabic and gaining a better understanding of Moroccan history, culture, and daily life.

Motivation: Living with a host family in Fez, Morocco gives me the opportunity to learn about local life and culture in a way that is not possible by studying in the U.S.  Immersion is the most effective way to gain the skills and confidence necessary to communicate in a foreign language, and I see my time abroad as an essential step in acquiring proficiency in Arabic.

 Previous Overseas Travel: France, England, Peru, Belgium, Netherlands, Morocco


Andrew McGough – Australia (Sydney Exchange)

McGough, AndrewVitals: Psychology Major, Criminal Justice Minor, Digital Studies Minor

Goals:  I hope that this experience will help me develop not just as a student but as an adult entering the real world outside of a college campus. By studying abroad, I aspire to become more independent and learn from a different perspective outside of the United States. I believe that having the confidence to stand alone and make my own decisions under these circumstances will have lifelong rewards. Also, I have always wanted to pet a joey, visit the Opera House, and experience the city of Sydney and its beaches!

Motivation: I have an incredible passion for traveling to new places. I enjoy taking on the fear of experiencing the unknown and unexpected. When the opportunity to study abroad in Sydney, Australia is available, I would regret to not take up that offer. Sydney, Australia has been on my bucket list for a long time. It is such a unique country and city! I love places that have a distinct personality. In this program, I want to continue to experience the unknown while also being a part of this prestigious institution in Sydney.

Previous overseas travel:  England, Ireland, France, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Greece, Canada, Croatia Mexico, Belize, & Honduras.


Sara McKearn – Italy (Bologna)

McKearn, Sara picVitals: Italian and Philosophy majors, German and European Studies certificates

Goals: I would like to improve my Italian language skills and take this opportunity to absorb new experiences. I’d like to learn a few authentic dishes, visit another city or two, and really take in the sights and the history of the oldest university in Europe.

Motivation: Studying in the country in which my language is spoken is a valuable opportunity to learn through emersion. Additionally, I am fascinated by Italian culture and am very much looking forward to experiencing it firsthand and being able to take in the gorgeous scenery and delicious food directly from the source. Furthermore, I hope this journey will give me a better understanding of my roots by observing the landscape and culture of some of my ancestors and relatives.

Previous overseas travel: None.


Alex Newell – Italy (Bocconi Exchange)

Newell, Alex picture

Vitals: Economics major studying at Bocconi University in Milan.

Goals: I want to see anything and everything in my time abroad. My goal for studying abroad is to be able to view my current life in America through a different perspective. Choosing a country where I don’t speak the language will allow me to just go with the flow more, something I definitely struggle with.

Motivation: I chose Bocconi because the academics of the program as well as the location relative to the rest of Europe. Milan is located in northern Italy, which allows me to travel between many easily accessible countries.

Previous overseas travel: Greece, Cyprus, Mexico

Caroline Riese – South Africa (Cape Town Exchange)

Riese, Caroline picVitals: Social Welfare and Psychology major, Criminal Justice certificate

Goals: I can’t wait to put myself into so many new experiences. I’m most looking forward to growing as a person, meeting new people, and being amazed by the nature Africa has to offer.

Motivation: I feel like Cape Town is the perfect place for me to fall in love with. I have a passion for adventure so the mountains and oceans of this beautiful city have been calling for me. One thing I am most excited about is the opportunity to volunteer in the surrounding townships during my time abroad. I’m also excited to experience such a diverse, new culture after living in Madison for the past 20 years.

Previous overseas travel: Mexico, Canada


Amelia Rossa – Ecuador (Ceiba Tropical Conservation Semester)

Rossa, AmeliaVitals: Junior double major in Conservation Biology and Geography, certificate in Environmental Studies

Goals: I am looking forward to improving my Spanish and gaining lots of field research experience in many different biomes throughout my time in Ecuador. I am also excited to get better at snorkeling!

Motivation: I know it was important to have research experience in the conservation biology field which I am hoping to work in after college. I also really hoped to be able to travel or work in a tropical ecosystem. By studying abroad through the Ceiba program I will get a whole semester of tropical field research experience and be immersed in Latin American culture.

 Previous Overseas Travel: India, Italy, Greece, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Zach Somberg – Netherlands (Utrecht) 

Zach Somberg-BlogVitals: Junior – Human Geography, History

Goals:  First, I am excited and anxious to explore Utrecht and the Netherlands. I look to try to immerse myself in Dutch culture and experience as much as possible about my host city and country. Secondly, I cannot wait to explore other cities and adventures that Europe has to offer.

Motivation:  I always knew that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. After choosing the Utrecht University program, I took three enjoyable semesters of Dutch language at Madison. The country has always been near the top of my list to travel to and Utrecht stood out as a great fit.

Previous overseas travel:  England, Italy, Germany, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada


Kathryn Spiering – England (King’s College Exchange)

Spiering, Kathryn

Vitals: English and Political Science with certificates in Criminal Justice and Global Health

Goals:  Of course, I want to see some of the classic, iconic landmarks around Europe, but I also want to really get to know the city of London and experience the things that aren’t on all the highlight tours. I want to find the cute quirky museums and hole-in-the-wall restaurants you only ever discover when you get lost taking a “shortcut” to the place you were actually trying to get to.

Motivation:  I’ve pretty much always wanted to see London and planned on eventually seeing the city. It’s an iconic cultural center and it prominently featured in my childhood. All sorts of history and fiction are set in London. But there’s a big difference between spending a week visiting a city and actually living there, so when I heard about the study abroad program at King’s College London I knew I had to take the opportunity to get in depth experience with such an interesting and influential culture. I also love traveling and experiencing new things; I’m sure I’ll do plenty of both while abroad.

Previous overseas travel:  I’ve been to Canada and the Bahamas so this will be my first time leaving the continent.


Aika Wojt – Scotland (Glasgow)

Wojt, Aika picture

Vitals: Biochemistry Major

Goals:  Since I’ve gone through all the effort to get to Scotland, I want to explore it as thoroughly as possible; especially the lochs and highlands it’s famous for. I also hope to visit a friend of mine, who lives in France, and possibly spend some time in Denmark, where another one of my friends will be studying. I want to make sure I never say no to any opportunities for adventure that come my way, because it’s true that it’s the things you didn’t do that you regret.

Motivation:  Basically, I want to go everywhere and see everything. That’s the simplest way to put it. Plus, the child in me wants to go find Hogwarts, and the chance is just too tempting to let slip by.

Previous overseas travel:  France, Japan

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