Undergraduate institution: Chapman University
Undergraduate major and minor: BFA Screen Acting and Business of Television
What have you been up to since attending Umbra?
Studying at Umbra after my freshman year of college ignited a love for traveling and discovering cultures that shaped the rest of my college experience. After Umbra, I studied in a meditation center in the Rocky Mountains and filmed a movie in Korea in similar programs with my school. Post-college, I started working as an actor in Los Angeles. I mostly work on TV sit-coms, behind the scenes and in front of the camera. The most recent show I worked on currently airs on CBS called Living Biblically and features some of the best comedians I’ve ever worked with. I also perform stand-up comedy all around Los Angeles. My latest passion project is helping run a food company that caters to people in LA who search for meals that follow health trends, are clean and simple enough to treat a variety of illness symptoms, and of course, are also incredibly tasty!
Has studying abroad impacted your life (both personally and professionally)? If so, how?
Studying abroad changed me to the core. It was the first time I was in a foreign country without my parents and I had no one to rely on but myself to get me through being lost, confused, language barriers, cooking and even how to do laundry in Italian machines (I definitely exploded one with soap). The sense of confidence and reward from getting through these every day struggles completely on my own was life-altering. Traveling to other countries alone has become something I’ve done many times since and I know Umbra was the reason I’m able to thrive in unfamiliar environments.
Have your courses at Umbra helped you prepare for your future? If so, how?
Since I’ve been working for a food company, I use a lot of Italian recipes and my knowledge of food history, which I learned in a course at Umbra, to create dishes that are healthy for the body and soul. For example, in class, we studied the staples of the diet that every culture has in some variation, and I make it my job to create variations that align with LA health trends. I make a gluten-free pasta using my mother’s Italian sauce recipe that clients go crazy for because of the comfort food feel without the guilt! I also make pizza with a crust made entirely of cauliflower puree. Taking these staple Italian dishes and figuring out how to turn them into something incredibly healthy is my favorite task!
Are you still in touch with the friends you made in Perugia?
Of course, I keep in touch through Facebook with friends I made in Perugia! I even traveled back to Perugia this year to take my parents to the city and introduce them to my favorite bartender, my favorite panini shop owner, show them my old apartment, and the town I’ll always think of as a second home. I also stay in contact with my friends from America that I lived with and was close with while studying abroad. There were friends from my own University that I did not know prior to studying abroad that became like family after our trip. The places we traveled to on weekends, the meals we shared, the times we spent walking the streets of Perugia will always be some of my most cherished memories.
What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students thinking of studying abroad?
DO IT. I know some people find it scary or it seems like it would be too hard to spend time away from home and the comforts of your life. By far, studying abroad is the most immersive way to learn about a culture different from your own and open your eyes to gain a deeper understanding about life and yourself. Being a student in a foreign country is the most ideal way to have all the fun of traveling, while also learning and building a friend group that will last a lifetime. I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.
What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying abroad (during or after their experience)?
Don’t be scared to try new things, to travel to new places you never thought you would, to have experiences that may seem slightly out of your comfort zone. Studying abroad is about learning and if you don’t push yourself you’ll never learn. So, go out, make friends with locals, travel on the weekends to other cities or countries even, journal about your days and what you learn, and most importantly, cherish every moment because when it’s over it will have gone too fast.