Student Spotlight: Alex Zafran, Study Abroad Spring 2012

Diversity is an extraordinary phenomenon to observe, but more importantly, is a reality that each student who studies abroad contributes to. My name is Alex Zafran, and I am proud to have been part of the incredibly diverse student body that defines John Cabot University.

I came to John Cabot University as a proud native of sunny South Florida, as a student with the unusual major of Classical Studies, and like many others, as a descendant of international ancestry and family members spread across the globe. I anticipated immersion into a culture and a language much different than what exists in the “Palm tree paradise” of Miami Beach, but instead JCU welcomed me into an environment where dozens of independent cultures and languages congregate and harmonize.

John Cabot University infuses the study-abroad culture with foreign flavors, traditions, and intellectual identities from the nations of the world. At JCU, my greatest friends came from Michigan, California, Italy, Monaco, Albania, Montenegro, and everywhere in between. My daily conversations were held in English and Italian; new friends taught me slang words in French, Russian, and Portuguese; and international travel exposed me to new languages like Catalan, Swiss-German, and Modern Greek.

What I quickly discovered among the students of John Cabot University was a genuine desire to swap stories, share childhood memories, and exchange an understanding of what it means to be a young adult in a nation other than one’s own. Each member of the JCU community seeks to complete his or her undergraduate degree with the (sometimes nerve-wracked) excitement of entering the working world. And so, in this common pursuit, the students at John Cabot University break all barriers of language, ethnicity, culture, and faith to become a single, brilliantly vibrant, and diverse student body.

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John Cabot University taught me first-hand that students with different upbringings, traditions, and world views will help you discover things about yourself that neither your friends at home nor your family members may be able to. JCU facilitates the opportunity for students to move beyond their comfort zones, not only through conversations with a favorite barista or a local fruit vendor, but through daily interaction with classmates who have lived completely different lives than you, yet who are now part of the same John Cabot community.

John Cabot University is unified by the powerful similarities and integral differences of its students. Whether from Siena or Sao Paolo, Detroit or Dubai, we students share the same desires to take Facebook-worthy photos beside the Colosseum, to become masters in finding the best spaghetti carbonara, and most importantly, to take full advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Ultimately, even if the once-vivid memories of adventures during your study abroad journey fade with time, the recognition of people with whom you share those adventures will last indefinitely. That is a personal guarantee.

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Alex Zafran
The George Washington University
Study Abroad Spring 2012

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