By: Michelle Morico
Is there such a thing as studying abroad too much? Definitely not, said Nicolas Seraleyva, a Marist junior who has studied abroad for five semesters.
Seraleyva is experiencing his first ever semester at Marist campus in Poughkeepsie, NY this spring. He spent his freshman and sophomore years in Florence, and the first semester of his junior year in London through the FIE program. Seraleyva is not done studying abroad though; next semester he will be in Bangkok before graduating in Florence in spring 2010.
Seraleyva is from Washington D.C. and has always been very interested in the arts including travel and fashion. Seraleyva is a graphic design major and has a blog primarily discussing fashion.
“I got the travel bug from my mom,” Seraleyva said. He’s always been into traveling because of his parents. As a child, Seraleyva went on many international trips with his mom partly because of her job at the International Monetary Fund.
“I wanted to see what it would be like here [in Poughkeepsie],” he said. “Plus spending 5 grand a semester-that needed to stop.” Although Seraleyva misses the abroad lifestyle, he does not miss the hole he was burning in his pocket. The experience Seraleyva is having at Marist is a new one.
“Marist is different, I hang out with a lot of people from freshman year in Florence,” he said. He is happy with his decision to continue traveling for the rest of his college career. “I tried coming back [to the U.S.] and it was not for me.”
“I’m going back to Florence to graduate and I will receive a Marist LdM degree.” Seraleyva said that he thinks his decision to study abroad for most of his college career and receive a degree from Marist at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence is a smart one. He will still technically have a Marist degree, which is becoming more and more valuable as years progress.
The artistic influence of Europe has allowed Seraleyva to experience more than if he had studied in Poughkeepsie.”I started out as a fashion design major then I switched to graphic design-I felt like my fine art core wasn’t strong enough,” he said. He also interned at a web design agency through the FIE program in London.
“I’ve been assessing career options, I want to work with a magazine as an art director, go in the creative direction.” He’s trying to get an internship at Conde Nast for this summer, hoping to be placed at either W or Vogue.
“It will set me apart,” he said. “I kind of went crazy about the idea [of numerous study abroad experiences].” His study and intern abroad experiences will only be resume boosters for Seraleyva.
After graduation, Seraleyva would love to live abroad but is not sure what will become a reality. “As far as living out of the country [after graduation], I’ve thought about…like just import[ing] myself to Asia,” he said.
According to Seraleyva, Marist made it incredibly easy to study abroad semester after semester as well. “Coming to Poughkeepsie was harder then just staying in Florence,” Seraleyva said. It was a hassle to transfer files and information to Marist College from Florence where they all originated. Overall, Seraleyva stressed the ease with which he was able to country-hop around Europe for the first five semesters of his college experience.
Seraleyva was part of an experimental pool as a freshman in 2006. Originally the program was for fashion majors but Marist expanded the program to include all majors which led to Seraleyva’s decision to spend his first college semester abroad.
“I applied [to Marist] and went to orientation, and a couple days after orientation I got a call about the launching of a program for freshmen in Florence,” he said. He was fully planning on coming to school in Poughkeepsie, just like a majority of Marist students do.
“At first I was hesitant because of the whole freshman in college thing,” he said. But once he got to Florence, he had no urge to come back, partially because he would not know anyone at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
“It was easy to fall into a routine in Florence,” Seraleyva said. Although, he liked how every semester there was a new batch of students entering the city. Seraleyva had trouble picking his favorite abroad destination thus far, but he decided that Florence trumps it all.
“It’s a tough call,” Seraleyva said. “London is more cosmopolitan; however, Florence has more of a community scene.”
Seraleyva advocates studying abroad in all forms, although he doesn’t think that his path would be right for just anyone. “I recommend study abroad to everyone,” he said. “But, doing your freshman year in another country-you have to be aware of what you are doing.”
Seraleyva wouldn’t trade his experience for the world. “There was never a point where I didn’t want to be there, I never hated it.” He did have points where he thought about the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s, though. As for the future, Seraleyva plans to continue traveling but he believes that every experience depends on the person.
“What I did is not right for every Marist student-you need to know what you’re getting into,” Seraleyva said.