Shani is the Program Advisor for all USAC programs in Costa Rica, Cuba, Israel, Japan, and Scotland. Interested in studying abroad in one of these locations? Keep reading to learn more about your Program Advisor!
Where did you study abroad?
I studied in Alicante, Spain in Spring of 2013!
What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?
There are so many wonderful memories you make abroad, but I would say something that really sticks with me, even now, was the opportunity to go on field trips and learn about the history of Spain. It is so easy to get caught up in life in the United States, and I don’t think I ever considered how other countries and their political and cultural climates have impacted their people and the world. The opportunity to travel to so many different cities in Spain and learn about how they have all contributed to its infrastructure and its growth was amazing.
I will also add that Spain is such a beautiful country and being able to explore a variety of cities was another one of my favorite things. From going to larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona that have so much to see and engage with to smaller cities like Altea, I really got to experience so much of what Spain has to offer and not just what I would have experienced if I traveled there on my own.
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled?
I love warmer climates and the beach, no surprise there. Obviously, Alicante is high up there. It is such a unique city in that it is not overly populated and has so many locals that are so kind and really willing and excited to engage with you, but it has a lot of the resources that make it easy to find what you need.
Not related to my study abroad experience, I would have to say Maui, Hawaii – again a beach climate, but so beautiful and not too busy! Then, Ireland. I did go in the springtime when it was cold and rainy, but everyone was so kind, and I enjoyed being able to experience some of the culture that I had always heard about growing up (my dad is obsessed with Ireland).
What is your funniest travel memory?
When I was in graduate school at the University of Arkansas a friend and I decided to go on a road trip to South Dakota for Fall Break, which is basically a four-day weekend (we both want to visit as many U.S. states as possible). To be honest, I am still not sure how I talked him into it, but I agreed to plan everything and drive.
The good news was we checked off four states (Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota), but I accidentally booked our last Airbnb for the wrong night and what was going to be a four-day road trip turned into a 48-hour road trip full of ONE Airbnb with no heating in the dead of winter and no bathroom. In the end, it was great, and we laughed about it then and still do, but I learned that heating and a bathroom are two important amenities when you are road-tripping for what would be the distance of a cross country drive. Five stars to the dairy coach house in South Dakota!
If you could go on any USAC program, what would it be and why?
I have thought a lot about this since returning from Spain and especially now that I work with USAC. I now have a running list, but Cuba has been on my list since the program was established. The culture and lifestyle have always fascinated me since they have limited access to what the U.S. considers everyday necessities and being able to learn about the country’s history would allow my inner nerd to thrive! I would love to be able to experience it, especially with all the knowledge and guidance from the on-site staff. Plus, their culture seems so rich and unique to many of the countries I have traveled to previously.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time with my dog, Dazie. Thankfully, she enjoys walks and the dog park as much as I do. My family is super important to me, and I love to spend time with them — whether it is traveling or trying new food spots together around town. Reading is another one of my favorite ways to pass time. Now that I live in Reno, Nev. and it is warm and/or sunny most of the year, I look forward to reading in my hammock and enjoying the weather.
What is a weird fact about you?
I know a ridiculous amount of college mascots because of my background in higher education. If you mention a college or university, I am searching through my brain to find out if I know where it’s located and what the mascot is.
What’s on your bucket list?
- Visit all 50 states in my lifetime. I am at 30 states so far!
- Go skydiving.
- Get a tattoo.