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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Kevin, GSE Alumni Rep

Kevin Simmons, GSE Florence, Italy Fall 2011 Alum and current Alumni Representative shares his experience and advice from his study abroad experience.

Discover what Kevin liked most about Italy and all the adventure he found abroad:

1. Why did you study abroad? How did you hear about the concept of study abroad?
  I studied abroad because I saw it as an opportunity to gain a different perspective on the world. I initially heard about it through my study abroad office.

2. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad? How did you deal with this fear? What made you overcome it?
  My initial fear was the fact that I wasn’t fluent in the language that was spoken in the country I studied in. But after being there for a few days, I was able to pick up a few words, and the people were very kind. When I attended classes I started to really understand the language more, which made everything easier.

3. What was your biggest obstacle in preparing for your program abroad? How did GSE help you overcome this obstacle?
  My biggest obstacle was getting everything organized for credit transfer. GSE was very helpful and sent me all the necessary paperwork to ensure my credits could be documented for easy transfer of credits.

4. What advice do you have for future study abroad goers in preparing for a study abroad program?
  My advice to future study abroad students is this: If you have the chance to travel, take it. Especially while you’re young. The world is a giant, fascinating place just waiting to be explored.

5. What was your first impression of the city as you traveled from the airport to your housing?
  The city of Florence is breath-taking. It really is gorgeous.

6. What was the biggest cultural hurdle that you encountered while adjusting to life abroad?
  The biggest cultural hurdle was simply the language, but after a while, you get to know more of it, and you have plenty of opportunities to practice it.

7. In 3 words, how would you describe everyday life abroad?
  In three words, I would say every day studying abroad that, “I love Italy!”

8. What item(s) did you wish you had brought with you?
  I wish I had brought some running shoes with me, because Florence is a great city to run in.

9. What was your favorite thing to eat abroad and where did you go to get it?
  In Italy, most of the food was my favorite. I would frequent ristoranti and supermercati and other establishments to indulge on bombolini, ciambelle, doner kebabs, calzone and other fine Italian cuisine.

10. What type of food from home did you miss the most?
  The type of food I missed the most was Dunkaroos, strangely enough. But there were plenty of Italian delicacies to enjoy, so my mind was kept off of American food for the most part.

11. What was your favorite local place to hang out at?
  My favorite local place to hang out at in Florence was the Duomo, Boboli Gardens or Santa Croce.

12. Which historical landmark was your favorite to visit? What historical facts impressed you?
  My favorite historical landmark was the Duomo in Florence. The architecture and design that went into building it was amazing.

13. What nearby, easy to travel to city/country did you enjoy visiting?
  I enjoyed going to Rome, Milan, and Venice while in Italy. All of the towns I visited though were great to visit.

14. Which GSE Excursion was your favorite?
  My favorite GSE excursion was going to Venice. The city is an engineering marvel, and it is jaw-droppingly beautiful as well.

15. What was the best aspect of studying abroad through GSE?
  The best aspect of studying abroad through GSE is that GSE makes the transition of school and culture very easy.

16. What was your favorite class? What about it did you like best?
  My favorite class was Italiano Elementare, because our teacher Denis was very good with students. He was very helpful, and he taught us Italian very well.

Fiat in Italy
17. What was the most difficult aspect of returning home (to the US)?
  The most difficult aspect of returning to the US was realizing that the program was over. I really miss being in Italy.

18. Why did you want to be a GSE Alumni Representative?
  I wanted to be a GSE Alumni Representative because I want students at my school to be aware that studying abroad can be an easy, enjoyable experience and not at all intimidating.

19. What do you like best about being a GSE Alumni Rep?
  What I like best about being a GSE Alumni Rep is the ability to talk to students who have the same desires as me and help steer them in the right direction towards their goals.

20. Any other advice you would like to give to students considering a study abroad program with GSE?
  The only advice I can really say is to just go for it. Studying abroad may look daunting at first- being away from family, friends and home- but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will stay with you forever, and will help shape the person you really are.

Learn more about Study Abroad by contacting a GSE Advisor today.


  1. It is a good interview. Can you tell me more details about your course you studied?
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