Clarisa advises for the Alicante and Madrid, Spain programs
I was born in California but raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved to Las Vegas for high school and migrated north to Reno for college. I graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in Art. Essentially, my job has nothing to do with what I studied in college, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Where did you study abroad?
Chiang Mai, Thailand and La Habana, Cuba
If you could go on any USAC program, what would it be and why?
I would choose the Santiago, Chile program. Santiago is a big city, but it’s surrounded by mountains which means I don’t have to travel far to enjoy nature. In the city center, there are a lot of museums and neoclassical architectures to check out. The program offers interesting courses such as Chile’s Native Cultures and Latin American Technology & Globalization. I would also love to learn more about Pablo Neruda.
What is your funniest travel memory?
After I finished my program in Chiang Mai, I spent the remainder of that summer with my family in Indonesia. The night before my return flight to Reno, I was trying to check in for the flight but it wouldn’t let me. After tinkering with the airline’s website for 15 minutes, I realized that I mixed up my return dates, had actually booked my flight for that night, and I had JUST missed my flight. I didn’t know how this slipped my mind considering I planned everything else well leading up to my travels – obtaining visas for both Thailand and Indonesia, figuring out the finances, etc. I will never forget the look my mom gave me when she found out about this (and the fact that we had to buy a brand new ticket for me to fly out the next day). It was an expensive lesson for me to learn. The moral of the story is that it’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes to look over your travel plans so you can avoid mistakes like this. Thankfully, my mom and I now joke about this every time I have to purchase a flight ticket.
What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?
This is hard! I have so many stories from my time abroad. If I have to choose, it would be this one:
In Chiang Mai, I volunteered at a local orphanage twice a week before class. From my housing, the orphanage was 20 minutes away by rod daeng (red truck). Since I didn’t speak any Thai, I had to flag one rod daeng down and showed a sticky note with the name of the orphanage on it. That was not the case one day. I talked to three different drivers and my sticky note trick didn’t work. I realized that they didn’t read the alphabet. I tried to pronounce the name in Thai. I knew I butchered it bad because they still didn’t know where I wanted to go. I eventually pulled out a map of Chiang Mai and pointed at my destination. Luckily, the orphanage was on it! The drivers burst out laughing when they figured out where I wanted to go. It was rewarding to overcome the language barrier.
What is a weird fact about you?
My parents deliberately put only one S on my name. People always think that it’s a typo. My name is an abbreviation of where I was born, Claremont (California). CLARemont In the uSA – Clarisa. My sister’s name is Karin and it stands for jaKARta in INdonesia.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
I would name it “The Notorious C.A.T.” It will be about my 15-pound fluffy cat and me. The book will talk about us going on an adventure to tackle daily challenges like how to not knock over everything on the counter, minimize over napping, and how to keep the water bowl cold 24/7.