May 23, 2011
Once in a lifetime.
That's how sophomore
Aryanna Whitten '13CPS described her recent experience in St.
John's Discover the World program – a popular study-abroad
opportunity that allows students to live and learn in Rome, Paris,
and Salamanca, Spain.
"Honestly, I always thought it sounded corny when people would
tell me how studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,”
she explained. "But after witnessing it firsthand, I now completely
understand that description. My trip was filled with moments that
I'll never get back – times I spent traveling with students,
meeting people I'd never have met otherwise and seeing the most
fantastic parts of European culture."
the Spring 2011 semester, Aryanna had the unique opportunity to
blog about her foreign adventures on the "Alumni and Friends"
portion of the St. John's Web site. Each week, she uploaded a new
post and provided videos and photo galleries so her readers could
see Europe through her eyes.
"The whole process was really fun and rewarding,” she noted. "I
loved how other students, alumni and friends could feel like they
were traveling along with me. Also, I too can look back at those
videos and relive the trip. Watching some of those first segments I
filmed, I can see how much my perspective has changed and how much
I have grown since then."
Aryanna's semester started in St. John's Rome campus, where she
visited the Vatican and
checked out other
famous sights in the Eternal City. Through her Theology class,
Aryanna even had the opportunity to meet and speak with Monsignor
Anthony Frontiero, a member of the Pontifical Council of Justice
and Peace, which proved to be a spiritually-enriching
After a few weeks in Rome, the students moved to the
University's Paris campus, allowing Aryanna to tour some of
Europe's most popular
landmarks: the Eifel Tower, the Palace of Versailles,
the Parisian Catacombs and the Chapel of Our Lady of the
Miraculous Medal (the mother house for the Daughters of Charity of
St. Vincent de Paul).
The last few weeks of the program took place in Salamanca,
Spain, where Aryanna immersed herself in
Spanish culture. Struck by the country’s deep love of sports,
Aryanna decided to check out an authentic Spanish bull fight and
even attended the championship match between soccer powerhouses
Real Madrid and Barcelona – the Spanish equivalent of the Super
As great as it was to go sightseeing on a daily basis and
immerse herself in foreign cultures, Aryanna feels the friendships
she forged were the most notable part of the program.
"The bonds we shared and the friendships we formed are only the
beginning of something truly great," she said. "Not only did I
become better friends with other students here at St. John's, but I
met kids from around the world who were also studying abroad,
people from Japan, London, and all over the world. We plan on
meeting up someday in the future and having a reunion, which will
be so awesome. How cool is it that I can say I have friends in
Spring Break, Aryanna took the initiative to go backpacking
through Europe to check out other countries, including Portugal,
Belgium and Amsterdam. She also participated in midnight runs
throughout the cities she visited, helping to feed the less
"I have to admit: it was a culture shock coming back home," she
said. "However, I mean that in a completely good way. Now I think
of things from a global perspective and I question how current
events and political issues affect the entire world. Also, helping
the homeless abroad reminded me that there are needy individuals
everywhere. I'm so glad that St. John's and its students have such
a significant impact in European communities just like they do in
Aryanna is especially grateful for St. John’s generous alumni
and friends, whose assistance allows so many students to study
abroad and take advantage of these once-in-a-lifetime
"My friends all told me that I must be rich to go on a trip like
that,” she recalled. "But my answer to them was always the same:
it's because I have a community that supports me, alumni who have
helped me get where I am. Reflecting back on my experiences, I
can't emphasize how grateful I am."
Be sure to check out all of Aryanna's blog entries from
this past semester to see fantastic videos and photography of her