My name is Victoria Barreda de Alba and I am an International Business student at John Cabot University. Like many of my fellow JCU students, my story is not the typical twenty-something college student’s story. I have spent the past few years moving around to discover new cultures, places, and – most of all – interesting people all over the world.
I have come to realize that this is what brings excitement to my life and what I enjoy the most. I am originally from Reynosa, Mexico, and I would consider myself an adventurous person. I can adapt pretty easily to change and new experiences. I have always had the idea that I wanted to travel all over, eat foreign foods, and lose myself in crazy adventures that would make memories to last me a lifetime.
In 2013 I started college in San Antonio, Texas. I remember that during orientation week I went directly to the study abroad booth because I loved the idea of studying abroad. I had two main interests: Rome and Hong Kong. I decided to do both!
In Spring 2015, I came to study abroad here at JCU. I came with two of my close friends from Mexico, Pamela and Mariel. Our time here was amazing in every single aspect! We got to travel to different places every weekend (I think we only stayed in Rome twice), we ate like there was no tomorrow, and we had the chance to meet some pretty interesting people in the least expected places.
But it wasn’t just about the travel: my academic experience was amazing too. Even though my degree has nothing to do with religion or art I decided I wanted to learn about some new subjects outside my major. I took Sketching around Rome with Professor Petit, which I really enjoyed and let me get to know the city more (although I’ve also decided that art is not ‘my thing’). I also took Popes of Rome with Professor Walters – a tough class, but it opens your mind and makes you think in different ways!
For Fall 2016, I decided to go to Hong Kong Baptist University, this time by myself. I only had a vague idea of the city. I knew it was one of the financial capitals in Asia, full of skyscrapers and people rushing all over, but besides that, I had no idea what to expect. From the moment I arrived I noticed that everything was different: the street smells, the food, the chaos, and the language. Everything. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I started to fall in love with the city! I got to share authentic experiences with interesting people from different countries and backgrounds. I ate live and raw octopus in the street markets of Seoul, drop down and roll a million times in the rice fields of Sapa in Vietnam, and walk for hours through the national parks of Jiuzhaigou in China. I got to learn and understand different ways of living and cultures, and I was totally immersed in this new experience.
The end of my semester in Hong Kong was getting closer and I needed to have a plan – which I’m very bad at! But I knew that I didn’t want to go back home. After looking at all the possible options, I decided to apply to John Cabot as a transfer student and I got accepted! Coming back to Rome was the best decision I could have made, and I believe it has helped me grow a lot as a person.
The rest of my story is still in progress, but I will certainly keep adding memories to my life, learning from people and places, and hopefully passing on some of the things I’ve learned.
Victoria Barreda de Alba
International Business Major
Class of 2017
Hometown: Reynosa, México