Hello there! My name is Chiara Smareglia, and I am an International Affairs major at John Cabot University. I chose JCU for the opportunity to live in my hometown of Rome while still also having all the benefits of an American liberal arts university. Since I was little, my dream has been to live the real American experience. Thanks to my family, I had the opportunity to do an exchange year in Ohio during my fourth year of high school. After this experience, I knew that the States would have been the right path for my academic career, so I started looking up American colleges. JCU was the perfect fit because it was affordable, had the major I was interested in, and it also gave me the opportunity to study abroad at an American university for a semester.
As I’m writing this, I’m just back from my semester at California State University – Long Beach. Right after I finished my freshman year, I started looking at the JCU direct exchange programs. With the help of my academic advisor and the registrar, the application was pretty easy. Fortunately, since I had also already studied abroad in the States during my high school years, preparing for this new experience wasn’t scary or hard at all. I already knew all the steps to apply for the Visa, and I was given all the information I needed from Cal State Long Beach and the JCU Direct Exchange once I was accepted into the program. What really surprised me was the experience itself. I did not expect to have such a wonderful time although I knew how much I enjoyed living in the States. This time, it was different!
Cal State Long Beach has a beautiful campus right on the coast of California, only 30 minutes away from Los Angeles. The campus is so big that they offer a shuttle to go to each side considering the small intervals between classes. It was always sunny. The classes were big, and you could feel the fresh air and the sunlight. I still remember the first day. I was so lost and shocked by the beauty and immense size of the campus. It was something I never thought I would see. Academically speaking, I took great classes that helped me build my pre-law portfolio, and this helped me to decide that law school is what I want to do after I graduate from JCU in May.
As for my social life, I was able to have the real American college experience and get to know about the Greek life on campus. If I could sum up my five months in California, I’d say that they were some of the greatest months of my life. I am grateful to JCU for providing me such an opportunity. I honestly cannot wait to see where my choice to go to law school in San Diego will lead me. It has been a little bit more than a month since I got back, and I miss California already.
This semester back at JCU, I am taking some pretty awesome classes, so I’ll definitely be pretty busy. My graduation is coming up in May, so that’s pretty exciting, along with completing my application for law school.
For those of you that are considering doing a direct exchange while you earn your degree at JCU, my advice is to step out of your comfort zone and go. Travel as much as you can because nothing will help you more than immersing yourself in the new culture. Nothing will help your personal growth as much as going for a semester abroad. Never be afraid of experiencing something new, especially considering that JCU is offering such a beautiful opportunity for its students.
International Affairs major, Business Administration minor
Class of 2020
Hometown: Rome, Italy