This past week our vivacious London Study Centre Intern Rhiannon wrapped up her position and packed her bags for California (a temporary trip to the sun as she’ll be returning to London for a masters program in no time.) But luckily we have found a brilliant new recruit to take up her torch! I had the chance to meet Esther Cisneros yesterday and am thrilled to be working with her for the next six months before I wrap up my own time here. Here’s a brief introduction to our lovely new intern:
Q: Let’s start with a little about your background:
A: “I went to UCSB (Go Gauchos!) and graduated in Communication & Language, Culture and Society. I’m a Mexican-American first generation college grad. I’m the eldest of three, with one younger sister, Julia (19) and one younger brother, Cirino (22). We have 4 dogs at home and a pool (very Cali). Home is Pomona, CA but I went to Claremont High School in the town next door. My international education actually began in high school, where I graduated through the International Baccalaureate program (we like to say its AP times two). I moved to London two weeks ago, and previously lived in Geneva, Switzerland finishing up my studies at our UCEAP Spring program there. I like people and I like languages, hence my majors and the fact that I’ve studied French and Japanese and am currently working on German.
Q: What was one of your favourite memories from your time studying abroad?
A: I studied abroad through four different programs in three different countries, so it’s a little difficult to narrow it down! In Japan, I would say one of my favourite memories was sitting in an onsen (Japanese natural hot spring) in the northern island of Hokkaido, enjoying the smell and warmth of the sulfuric waters as the snow fell on a November afternoon (yes, it was as magical as it sounds). For Spain, it would definitely be biking through Retiro Park, and stopping by the small lake to watch friends and couples row by while having an afternoon tinto with friends. In Geneva, I would say one thing I will never forget is the feeling of stepping into Room XX of the United Nations Office, my fancy ground badge hanging around my neck, and sitting in the press section with my internship supervisor looking out at the rings of delegations from all nations of the world.
Q: What impact has studying abroad left on your life?
A: Studying abroad has shaped who I am and what I want to be in life. Launching myself outside of my comfort zones, challenging myself, and getting through the situations that life and studies in a foreign land threw at me, I grew as a person as well as a student. I left each experience more confident and daring, with a greater understanding of the world and life beyond my home campus and country. I like to say that studying abroad has taught me to be “comfortable being uncomfortable,” comfortable with myself, and in my ability to persevere through any situation no matter how unsettling or unexpected. This might all sound ‘cheesy’ or ‘wistful’ to some people, but in all honesty I’m not the same person I was before I went abroad, and I mean that in the most positive and empowering sense.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?
A: DO IT. Do it now that you have the time and the resources at your disposal. We have an incredible array of programs in countries all over the world; I guarantee that there is a fit for you, your major, your budget, etc. Sure, you can always travel and live in a different country after graduation, but going as a student abroad you have the opportunity to really immerse yourself in another way of life, free of the commitments and pressure that life as a full-time working adult comes with. University campuses are where you get to prepare yourself for your career (the “real world”) and where you learn exponentially about who you are and the world outside of home and high school. Take that experience to another level; take it abroad! If you can (or if you dare) do a year-long immersion program.
Q: What does your position at the LSC entail?
A: My position really boils down to enhancing students’ study abroad experience to the UK. This entails working on student orientations, event planning, promoting opportunities and sharing tips and insight into the study abroad experience through our website and various social media platforms. Here at the office we work as a team, and I’m excited to also be involved in projects outside my duties, and help with the smooth running of the Study Centre.
Q: What inspired you to apply for this position and what are you looking forward to the most about it?
A: My experiences abroad and involvement back home with my UCEAP office are why I wanted this position, to be able to give back to the community that has provided me with the opportunities that have defined me and my career aspirations. I’m excited to work with students, and see how things run from the ‘other side.’
Q: What will you miss most about California?
A: Family. And Mexican food. In that order (hehe). I try to stay excited about life abroad and away from home, and remember that home and California will always be there. I certainly wish I could teleport my Grandma and her kitchen sometimes though!
Q: Tell us one interesting or unexpected fact about yourself:
A: I broke my leg (both bones, lower right leg) during a soccer game in my junior year of high school. I was in a cast for six months, one from toe to hip for three of those six months. Wasn’t fun. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I have a pretty awesome “battle scar” now, though, a metal rod in my leg that beeps when I go through airport security, and an interesting if not ‘funny story’ to tell people (including airport security).