Julie Ficarra abroad.

Why I went: My freshman year, I watched the film "Hotel Rwanda" as part of the United Nations Student Alliance. It dealt with the genocide in Rwanda. The fact that such an atrocity took place while I was alive and I knew nothing of it was the catalyst for studying in Tanzania, where I was able to observe the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

After that first program, I was hooked. I went to the Study Abroad office expressing interest in spending my junior year abroad. My study abroad adviser helped coordinate back-to-back programs in Oxford and Prague, where I was able to study colonization and democratization movements, respectively.

I thought it would be an opportunity for me to learn about a different country, but I learned just as much about myself.

Thinking beyond America: We spend much of our adolescence being taught who we are as Americans and what that means in terms of our responsibility to our country. Study abroad introduced me to a broader layer of citizenship, invoking a sense of responsibility to a global citizenry.

I changed my intended major to anthropology and international studies. About half of my degree program took place abroad. I’m just so appreciative of UB — other universities don’t make it as easy to integrate education abroad into students’ degrees.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going to Harvard: I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at 19, visited 22 countries before my 22nd birthday and took classes at Oxford University.

I come from a blue-collar family, and these experiences gave me the confidence to say, "You know, I’m going to do my master’s at Harvard." I got into the international education policy program and graduated summa cum laude in 2011.

The State Department and beyond: When I came back from studying abroad, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else but helping other students experience the world. After Harvard, I held a short-term assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Swaziland, promoting exchanges between students from Swaziland and the U.S.

Now, I coordinate African, Middle Eastern and French study abroad programs at the University of South Florida.


Study Abroad

study abroad .

UB offers study abroad opportunities in 30 countries, along with access to more than 550 other SUNY programs. Eleven percent of our undergraduates study abroad — five times the national average.

Find out more about how you can study abroad, whether you’re an architect who would like to spend the summer in the parks, cafés and museums of Barcelona, or an engineer who would like to experience university life in France.

Learn about UB’s study abroad programs