My dream to go abroad started in high school, when I earned enough money to travel with the Spanish-speaking students to Costa Rica for a 15-day academic trip. I knew it would be amazing, but I had no idea it would change my life. After that, all I could think about was how big the world was and how little I had experienced. I was determined to find a good university with a great study abroad program — that’s why I chose SUNY, as it had nearly 200 independent study abroad programs to choose from worldwide.
At the beginning of my sophomore year I started researching programs, the best places to go, and how to go about it. At some point, I set my sights on Italy and found John Cabot University. I wanted to learn as much as I could about JCU, so I googled it from every angle. I found photos, videos, social media channels, and blog articles, and everything I saw or read led me to decide it was a perfect match for me.
Initially, I was part of a semester-long study abroad program here at John Cabot; I studied full-time with the other visiting and degree-seeking students alike. I was fully immersed in everything Roman while attending my classes surrounded by international friends and classmates. The teaching style at JCU was something I found to be very different from that of my previous university. Since John Cabot is a small university, I found myself forming connections with my professors and classmates, and building more meaningful relationships with them both inside and outside the university. Just two months into my semester in Rome, I decided I was fully committed to transferring to John Cabot to complete my bachelor’s degree.
Something that perhaps no one tells you before coming abroad is that it will change the way your mind works. Before coming abroad, I was purely academically focused; I maintained a 4.0 GPA but I was not learning outside of the classroom. When I came to John Cabot that all changed; I began to see that what happens outside the classroom is just as important as what happens inside it. JCU hosts many professional and academic seminars led by guest lecturers, and also boasts a fair number of successful student clubs and organizations; all this makes getting involved almost inevitable. Some courses include academic trips and on-site lectures, which offer a more immersive learning experience. Almost everyone at John Cabot is involved in the university outside the classroom in one way or another, and the community is like no other: every student, faculty member, and staff member brings something to the JCU community that makes it utterly unique and captivating in its own way.
My story is special to me, and has helped make me who I am today. Each JCU student has their own story about their John Cabot journey. Without JCU, I may have never learned to understand and appreciate the striking and subtle differences in cultures and people that I have discovered during my time here. I would absolutely recommend transferring to any of you who may be considering it; JCU has given me the time of my life in a way that no other university could offer, and I will cherish these memories eternally.
Shelby Leigh Bradley
Class of 2016
Hometown: Clinton, New York, USA