Study Abroad Student Spotlight: Sabrina Porterfield-Strach, Fall 2018

Why am I excited to study abroad at JCU?

One thing you hear often from adults after they have graduated from college is that they regret not studying abroad. As I am headed into my last two semesters of college, I decided that I didn’t want that to be me. I wanted to make sure I would have stories to tell about my amazing experience abroad for generations to come.

I chose John Cabot University because it’s located in the place I’ve always wanted to go most in the world— Rome. Not only that, but when I was looking into the study abroad program, I felt like it was an institution I could trust if I ever needed help during my stay in an entirely different country. Like the Type A personality I can be sometimes, I have watched hundreds of videos and read hundreds of blogs about JCU and studying abroad in general. One thing that is repeated over and over again is to not go in with any specific expectations. I can only expect that this experience is going to be one of the best of my life. I learned that no crazy amount of preparation could prepare you for an experience that is meant to be lived in the moment.

I’d be lying if I said I was set to arrive in Rome this fall with NO expectations. I am expecting the experience to be challenging. I believe that humans learn the most from facing challenges and overcoming them, and I believe that’s why many students come back from studying abroad saying that they have developed so much more as a person. I hope that I can learn from the challenges I face abroad, such as learning how to navigate myself through a new country with no cell phone data or trying to communicate with others despite there being a language barrier. The challenge is going to be super exciting, and so are the other little things that are experienced during study abroad.

I am excited about experiencing a new culture firsthand. It’s socially acceptable in America to go grocery shopping in penguin pajamas and buy three weeks’ worth of food, but in Italy, I’ve heard that locals tend to shop for groceries every day while looking presentable. Speaking of groceries, I am excited about trying new foods and learning how to cook authentic Italian cuisine. If I am being completely honest, I am a little nervous about leaving America and being independent in a country I’ve never been to before. However, being nervous has never stopped me from trying new things and I am thrilled to explore not only Italy, but a whole other continent.

All in all, I think I’m most excited about the learning experience. That might be a little cliché to say, but I can’t wait to see the kind of person I will develop into from studying abroad in Rome. I’ve already learned a lot about myself during the past four years of college and figured out where I want to go in my career, but as I reach my fifth and final year, I don’t necessarily know myself completely as a person. I think that studying abroad at JCU will be the final piece to truly discovering who I am, and I cannot wait to finally meet that person.


Sabrina Porterfield-Strach

Study Abroad Fall 2018
Psychology Major
California Polytechnic State University

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