student life

Embracing Abroad


I am currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy, with the Syracuse University Abroad program. This is my first trip outside of the United States — I’ve never even been to Canada. As this is my first time leaving the country, I naturally want to do anything and everything. When I was planning my weekend trips over the summer, I had every weekend booked. I wanted to visit all of the places I had only seen in movies or read about it books. In my mind, this was my once-in-a-lifetime experience, my chance to see the world.

When I got to Florence, the reality of time sunk in. Sure, three months sounds like a long time, but trying to squeeze in everything I wanted to do was impossible. On top of that, most of my friends who I am traveling with have already been to Europe, so some of the top places I wanted to go were places that they had already seen. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted my abroad experience to be, and when it didn’t go exactly as planned, I started obsessing about it. For most of September and the beginning of October, I was constantly online searching for places to travel to, trying to find the cheapest flights, texting friends trying to convince them to travel with me for the fourth weekend in a row.

A few days ago, I was sitting in a piazza near the SU Florence campus, using an app on my phone to search cheap flights. I realized I had been sitting there for 45 minutes, completely oblivious to everything going on around me. I did not see the beautiful street art two feet away from me, or the man playing the violin in the center of the piazza, or the brilliant hues of yellow and red in the changing leaves. When I looked up and took it all in, it hit me: I was spending so much time obsessing about seeing everything that I wasn’t really seeing anything.

I’ve been trying too hard to make this experience perfect. Studying abroad is an opportunity to discover your passions, see new things, and embrace cultures different from your own. It’s not about getting the most stamps on your passport. It’s about seeing what you can, living in the moment, and stepping out of your comfort zone. I closed most of those tabs a few days ago. I’m ready to see where the rest of the semester takes me, and hopefully I will be more open to the beauty right in front of me.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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Four Years, Four “Houses”, Four Unique Experiences


Where you live in college plays a big role in making friends and shaping your experience. As a senior, I have now lived in four completely different places, all of which have their own unique perks and quirks. Below is a breakdown of every place I have lived (or currently live) during my years at SU:

Freshman Year: Brewster, Boland, Brockway Halls (BBB)

I am grateful to have lived here as a freshman because BBB has an extremely close-knit community, likely due to the fact that these are freshmen-only dorms. I immediately became friends with not only the students on my floor, but also those on many other floors. There is also a strong sense of inclusion in BBB as there are plenty of people from other countries and diverse backgrounds. With its own gym located in the basement, BBB residents do not need to leave the building to exercise. Even if you don’t use the gym though, by the end of the school year, you will be in great shape, simply because you will have a bit of a walk to class from BBB, and because it is located on one of Syracuse’s many hills.

Sophomore Year: Marion Hall

Located in the heart of campus, Marion Hall is minutes away from many major buildings. The hall’s easy access to Bird Library made me a library regular my sophomore year. My room was very close to Walnut Avenue, which houses sororities and fraternities, so on some Friday nights, the noise level was a bit loud. (If you are someone who may be in your dorm on weekend nights this may be more of an issue, but if you are someone who enjoys going out, it shouldn’t be a huge problem.) Being a smaller dorm, there wasn’t the same level of community that I enjoyed in BBB but I definitely liked the convenience.

Junior Year: Harrison Street

My junior year, I lived at the top of the hill on Harrison Street, right across from the Chancellor’s house. One unique perk was our apartment’s roof access. It was probably the main reason we signed the lease so quickly, and during the year we hung out up there quite a bit. The location is relatively close to the academic buildings I took classes in and by then, most of my friends lived nearby. Being from California, it was important that if I lived off-campus the house was furnished. Luckily my rent in this house included a bed, refrigerator, desk and other basic furniture. This isn’t necessarily the norm, but with so many out-of-state, and international students at Syracuse, there is definitely furnished off-campus housing to be found. Being out of the dorms was different– but nice– because I was still able to live with my friends, but I had my own room and therefore more personal space.

Senior Year: Euclid Avenue

Senior year is here and I am ending my college career with a great housing arrangement! This year I am living on Euclid Avenue, a very lively street with lots of students and always something going on. Most of my friends are also living around this area, and there has never been a dull moment. The walk to campus is by no means brutal, but it is the longest walk I have had since arriving at SU. I have found that the trickiest part about living off-campus is getting food if you don’t have a campus meal plan. If you or one of your roommates has a car, you can buy groceries and cook for yourself (or get a lot of takeout!) Either way, you just need to plan ahead so you don’t get caught with nothing to eat.

Every dorm and apartment has a different personality, from its location and student community to its dining halls and other amenities. Looking back, I think it’s important to make the most of your freshman experience–that’s where I really found my group of friends. No matter what dorm you are assigned to though, you will have a great first year as you will be surrounded by new friends who will make wherever you live your home.

Check out more dorms, and the rest of the Syracuse campus with the virtual tour!


Eric Chuang ’17, is a  Public Relations major at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a minor in English & Textual Studies. Additionally, he is part of the Fashion & Beauty Communications Milestone Program. Eric is a California native, dog enthusiast, fervent traveler, and sushi connoisseur. When not taking Buzzfeed quizzes or coming up with clever Instagram captions, he can most likely be found jamming to Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. More blogs from Eric Chuang.

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Seriously, Don’t Skip Class (especially the 8 am’s!)


I was not looking forward to 8 a.m. classes when I started college. In fact, I was a little weary of classes in general. I’d heard from some older friends that you go to college and spend four years in giant lecture halls, memorizing information, regurgitating it for a test, and then completely forgetting it. I expected I’d be able to skip a lot of classes and I would never get to know my professors. However, I am almost halfway through my undergraduate education, and I’m glad to say that, at least in my experience, I was very, very wrong about college classes. Here’s a little insight into what I was thinking:

My expectation for college classes:

Ugh, it’s Monday and I have an 8 a.m.

I get up, drink three cups of coffee, throw on a sweatshirt and walk to class. I sit among 80 other kids who are asleep with their eyes open. Our professor talks, and talks and talks. No one asks questions because it’s very uncool to be interested. I secretly text under my desk, but of course no one’s awake, so I curl up and close my eyes. I don’t think I’m going to go on Wednesday. I can basically teach myself all of this. I’ll just show up for the midterm and the final and I’ll be good.


It’s Monday and I have an 8 a.m. I get up, drink three cups of coffee, throw on a sweatshirt and walk to class (that’s never changing). I walk into a classroom with 15 other students. We’re all tired, but ready to work. Our professor discusses what the focus is for the day. We spend about half an hour openly discussing the latest topic, and then we break up into two groups and work on our respective PR campaigns–campaigns we are executing for real clients with real goals and real contributions to society. We stay a few extra minutes after class to call our client and plan for what needs to be done for Wednesday.

What a change, right?

As a public relations major, every class I have taken thus far has been goal-oriented and focused on experience. I am currently taking Public Relations Writing in a Digital World, and we are working with Syracuse alum Michael Short, ’10, President of the Global Social Enterprise Institute (GSEI) and CEO of Short Enterprises. The Institute, an initiative of Short Enterprises with more than 250 university and institutional collaborators and projects spread across six continents, provides consulting for socially engaged organizations. Over the past few years, GSEI has had over 100 students and a number of courses involved in their work from the Newhouse, Maxwell and Whitman Schools.

Short and Professor Joe Cunningham have given myself and my classmates the priceless opportunity to essentially intern for a well-respected organization and earn credits simultaneously. We didn’t have to apply. We didn’t have to interview. All we have to do is show up to class and try our best.

I truly love going to a school where the professors not only respect the students, but also encourage us to rise to expectations that we may have never set for ourselves. So if you ever think about skipping your morning classes, think about what you’re missing. It might be in that class you realize a love for what you’re doing, or at the very least perhaps, you may realize that 8 a.m. class offers much more than you expected.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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