Bearcats on the Road

Raw Prawns and Other Shanghai Aventures

Posted by Maggie Loya on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 04:04 PM

I hopelessly stared at the four grey shrimp-like creatures, and they stared back with black, lifeless eyes. A warm pot of soup was the only other indication that these prawns were indeed meant as food.

Prawn or no Prawn? Maggie Loya's First Shanghai ExperienceJohn, my travel partner, glanced over at my meal. “Are those cooked?”

I poked one tentatively with a finger, and it left a trail of fishy slime on my hand. “I don’t think so…” Glancing around for support, I searched for an instructional pamphlet or even another diner who had ordered this particular dish. I found no help, and thoughts of disgrace and insults were filling my head. My sleep-deprived brain struggled between two options: make a fool out of myself and potentially offend the restaurant owner or suck it up and eat the nasty prawn.

“Maybe prawns are a different color in Asia. Maybe it really is cooked. Is this sanitary?” I took a deep breath, peeled off the shell, removed the legs and head (the eyes seemed to admonish me), and ate the whole prawn in one bite.

“Well, that wasn’t too bad,” I thought, taking a gulp of the soup. I reached forward to devour my next prawn victim, and the waitress arrived—carrying two plates of uncooked rice noodles, raw mushrooms, rare beef, and thick, inedible kelp. She murmured something unintelligible in Mandarin, and turned a tiny knob located behind my soup pot. The broth began boiling, and she motioned from the plates to the pot.

I was supposed to cook my own food.


image2John and I had ended up at the hot pot restaurant after over sixteen hours in a plane. It was a small miracle that I even made it to Pittsburgh International Airport in the first place; I had been weighing the advantages of jumping out of my roommate’s car and begging for Academic Affairs’ forgiveness with the disadvantages of ditching John and destroying my pride. It had been a close battle, but I finally made it to the gate. Even after we had travelled to Dallas and our plane was taxiing out to the runway to leave for Shanghai, John and I looked at each other in terror and asked, “Think it’s too late to run?”

The minute we left the Shanghai airport, though, I was sold. I was no better than a kid, gawking at the huge buildings and not wanting to sleep. I was finally ready for the adventure.

Where does this leave us, fellow adventurers? To begin, last night I slept on a wooden pallet with a padded sheet as my “mattress.” This wasn’t a shortcoming on my part; I think that was actually just the bed for temporary housing. I also have no idea how to work the HVAC unit, so I spent last night bundled in two coats and sweatpants, wrapped up in my Guardians of the Galaxy fleece. Everything kind of smells gross, and I’m afraid to know how badly I smell too. I can’t figure out the shower (who knew these things could be so complicated?!). There isn’t really a shower floor either…it’s literally just a drain in my bathroom floor next to the toilet.

Maggie Loya's Balcony, overlooking Shanghai

Would I have it any other way? Nope.

This finally brings me to the most recent discovery—my ninth floor room has a balcony (and a much nicer bed). It’s time to go find some breakfast and relax on my beautiful little porch overlooking the city; I think this is what they call heaven. Zaijian!

Shanghai up close

Topics: study abroad, Maggie Loya, Shanghai

Ni Hao! Studying Abroad in Shanghai

Posted by Maggie Loya on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

“How do you feel about studying abroad in Shanghai for five months?”

I've been asked this many, many times over the past few months, and my answers have changed drastically.

  • Three months ago: "I CAN'T WAIT!!!"
  • Two months ago: "I have no idea what I'm doing with my life, and I'm terrified."
  • One month ago: "I can't believe this is actually happening. I'm so excited!"
  • This week: "Yeah, I'm leaving on Saturday for a foreign country. Can't speak the language. Probably going to be a pretty cool experience. Is this what they call shock?"

At this point, I have no idea what to expect, but I am ready to take on the world. I know you want to hear about my exciting trip, but I'll start off my blog with a little introduction. My name is Maggie, and I’m a junior at Saint Vincent College. Two and a half years ago, I moved almost a thousand miles away from my family in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida, and started college as a Bearcat. I'm double-majoring in management and psychology, and this past semester, the McKenna School of Business gave me the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai as a student and as a Westinghouse intern.

Fun Facts:

  • I've never written a blog.
  • I'm an SVC tour guide, and I basically live in the Admissions office.
  • My favorite animal is the panda.
  • I'm an art fanatic, a writer, and an outdoors enthusiast.
  • I've never traveled outside of the Unites States.

With that said, welcome to my blog! I can't really tell you what to expect, but I can promise that it will be an adventure. I will try at least one bizarre street meal (pics or it didn’t happen), I will visit unique and beautiful places, and I will tell many stories from the other side of the world. I hope to post something every week, so you will have plenty to read.

I only have three days until my flight. Shanghai, here I come!

Maggie Loya is studying abroad in Shanghai

Zài jiàn for now! 再见!

Topics: study abroad, internship, Maggie Loya, Shanghai

Micro Finance in Panama

Posted by Abby Bryant on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 03:43 PM

Micro Finance in Panama

Agribusiness Seminar in Panama

As the National Agribusiness Coordinator, I'm frequently invited to facilitate business seminars throughout Panama, and a few weeks ago I was especially excited to facilitate an agribusiness education seminar for recipients of micro-finance grants from MIDA (the Panamanian Ministry of Agriculture.)

Ecstatic to be doing very official-sounding work, my Agribusiness co-coordinator Elena and I made the trip to Santiago, Veraguas to meet with representatives from MIDA and the 30 or so seminar participants.

Each attendee was representing a small farmer's group from his or her rural town that had recently received a business development grant from MIDA, and would be implementing agricultural projects to produce products such as organic meats, eggs, vegetables and/or fruits.  

Basic Business Education

A few years ago, the agribusiness coordinators developed a seminar series that we've continued to improve each year. The series is a complete set of lessons and workbook activities for themes like accounting, marketing, product (line) improvement, personal and group finance, farm inventories and costs of production. Since almost all of the preparation and practice was done ahead of time (Elena and I have both given the charlas throughout Panama during our first year as volunteers), we were free to take things easy and focus on getting to know the producers and what specific business themes we could help them with.

Business Demonstration

Even though the training was a mandatory stipulation to receiving their grants, I was really impressed with the positive attitudes and participation we received from both men and women. They brought up really great topics like how to manage group finances and pay dividends and how they could overcome logistical issues through marketing and vendor relationships.

Throughout the week, we received tons of positive feedback, and by the end of our seminar many of the attendees were asking how they could get their own Peace Corps volunteers! It was great to see Peace Corps in action in a different setting than usual, and reminded me how excited and proud I am to continue to work with such a great organization!

Peace Corps business education

Topics: Peace Corps, Panama, Abby Bryant, Business Seminar

What do Peace Corps Agribusiness Volunteers do in Panama?

Posted by Abby Bryant on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 11:24 AM

When I think back to the months leading up to my Peace Corps service, I can still clearly remember how concerned I was about my future work. I was passionate about business, helping people, Spanish, and travel and had asked my recruiter to find me a placement where I could use all of those skills and hobbies. 

Since only 20 percent of volunteers are currently serving in Spanish-speaking countries and Community Economic Development is one of the smaller programs within the Peace Corps (Education, Health, and Environmental programs are all larger) I gave the placement team quite a task. When they assigned me to serve as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Extension Agent in Panamá, I called to let them know they had likely mixed me up with another candidate. Other than living in the country, I had zero experience in agriculture. 

What I didn’t yet know was that Peace Corps Panama’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems, SAS, Program was in the process of increasing the business/entrepreneurial advising work that volunteers take part in in order to work towards the program’s goal of improving agribusiness practices in rural Panama (The other two goals relate to improved staple crops and agroforestry practices).

Though it may vary year-by-year, recently the Panama placement teams have been selecting about 20 SAS volunteers with more traditional agricultural experience, and 5 or so with a background in business. 

Teaching Agribusiness to Panama Residents

And though the work Peace Corps agribusiness volunteers do will vary tremendously by community and location throughout the country, here are some of the most common projects and responsibilities we might take part in:

  • Giving personal and group financial training
  • Training interested group or community members in computer programs like Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Email
  • Assisting with group organization
  • Training on the function and roles of board and group members
  • Official group establishment support (There’s a long paperwork process to this here in Panama)
  • Advising the producers on how to improve their products
    • Value can be added by improving the production process or by lengthening the production process: 2nd rate cacao -> 1st rate cacao; cacao -> chocolate bars
  • Directing producers on how to manage and/or improve their product line
  • Assisting with logistical challenges (We live in some pretty out-there places!)
  • Connecting producers with potential buyers
  • Teaching producers how to maintain positive and sustainable client relationships

Teaching Agribusiness in Panama

As you may have noticed from my posts, many of us like to work both in and out of our communities. Interested volunteers can apply for Work Related Leave to travel to other Peace Corps sites to help with casual informative sessions, charlas, in just about any topic relating to agribusiness/money/finance. For example, I’ve recently been helping several community water groups to organize their resources and financially plan for the implantation and maintenance of their new aqueduct systems. Though it’s not quite “agri-business,” the SAS volunteers in Panama are some of the only ones who receive relevant training during PST. 

So what about if you’re really into business and especially love working with new communities? If that’s your preference, you could apply to be a National Agribusiness Coordinator for the SAS Program! Usually formed as an East/West pair, the Peace Corps Agribusiness Coordinators are given additional support and a travel budget in order to spread agribusiness knowledge throughout the country. Duties include:

  • Train incoming volunteers in relevant agribusiness practices in Panama during their PST (Pre-Service Training) and IST (In-Service Training)
  • Develop positive relationships with related government agencies and NGO’s
  • Support volunteers in their in-site work through site visits, seminar assistance, and additional training
  • Develop new training materials and techniques to be shared through Peace Corps Panama’s Agribusiness Manual
  • Serve as the point person for volunteers and staff for any questions or resources related to agribusiness

Interacting with locals as a Peace Corps Volunteer

If you’re a future volunteer with an interest in business or a SAS volunteer coming to Panama, there are two important takeaways I want you to have.

First, just because you’re not enrolled in a business program does not mean you won’t get to do business related projects during your service. One of the great things about Peace Corps is that it is what you make it. If you want to work in business, do it! 

Secondly, if you’re a SAS volunteer, I can almost guarantee you that some business-related project will come up throughout your service, even if you’re intent on working 100% on the more agricultural side of things. So, don’t zone out during your agribusiness trainings and don’t be afraid to ask one of the agribusiness volunteers for help if you need it; Goodness knows we’ll need yours when it’s time to fertilize the yucca!   

Fertilizing the Yucca in Panama

Topics: Peace Corps, Panama, Volunteer Abroad, Abby Bryant

Saint Vincent Bearcats in Northern Ireland

Posted by Natalie Ambrozic on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 @ 02:11 PM

My last week in Europe was absolutely fantastic and I was even able to hang out with some fellow Bearcats!

My friend Rachel, who lives in Belfast with her family, invited me to stay at her house when she heard about my internship in London. My other friend Mary was visiting her the same week I was, which made the trip even more incredible. I booked a flight out of London that left at 7:30am, so I took the tube late at night with all of my luggage and slept overnight in Heathrow Airport to avoid paying an £80 taxi fare the next morning (the tube is closed from 11pm to 5:30am, so I would not have been able to make my flight the next morning if I did not stay overnight). It was totally worth it, since the US equivalent to the cab fare is $132!

Northern Ireland is definitely the most gorgeous place I have ever seen. I was amazed at how beautiful and green everything was. The first thing we did when I arrived was visit the Titanic museum in Belfast. The Titanic was built in Belfast and the residents like to joke that “it was built by Irishmen, but sunk by an Englishman.” We then ventured up to Portballintrae, a picturesque town by the coast, and spent a couple days there. Rachel says that this is her favorite place and it’s obvious to me why. Everything is so beautiful and calming there. We also saw the Giant’s Causeway while we were at the coast, which is a mound of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which were formed in the aftermath of an ancient volcanic eruption. According to legend, however, the causeway was built by an Irish giant named Finn MacCool so that he could cross the sea to Scotland, which you can see from the coastline. There are huge green hills that lead up to the causeway and make the beach scenery even more breathtaking. This was such an incredibly stunning place and I was awestruck by the beauty of it all.

Driving to Portballintrae

Rainbow while driving to Portballintrae



The path to the Giant's Causeway

The path to the Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

Mary, Rachel, and I at the Giant's Causeway

Mary, Rachel, and I at the Giant's Causeway

We also visited Derry, which is officially named Londonderry, and toured the historic city walls. These walls were used in battles many centuries ago and still remain standing today. We returned to Belfast the next day and took a bus tour around the city (which was very windy on the top of the bus!). One of the things that particularly surprised me was that the peace walls were still being used in the urban communities in Belfast and Derry. These walls were erected in 1969 to separate the Unionist and Nationalist communities during the outbreak of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. The separate neighborhoods still erect either the British or Irish flag to show their allegiance and the tension is still present, even though the fighting stopped many years ago. It was haunting to see the remnants of the past in the graffiti in both cities, but encouraging to see how the communities are learning to live with each other peacefully. We also visited a monument to honor the soldiers who died in WWI, which overlooks the entire city, and Queen's University, where Rachel studies. 

Historic walls of Derry

Historic walls of Derry

Graffiti murals in Belfast

Graffiti murals in Belfast

Mary, Rachel, and I on the windy bus tour

Mary, Rachel, and I on the windy bus tour

View from the WWI monument

View from the WWI monument

Queen's University of Belfast

Queen's University of Belfast

I have been back in America for a little over a week now and I can hardly believe that I had such an incredible summer. Looking back, I am shocked at how many things I was able to do and how many places I was able to go. I can happily say that I have absolutely no regrets about my experience abroad and I am so happy to have had this opportunity. I want to thank my family for all of their support throughout the past year, Sara Hart for helping me organize my amazing trip, and Rachel Macartney and her wonderful family for inviting me to stay with them. I am now about to start my senior year at Saint Vincent and I couldn’t be more excited! All of the opportunities that can be found at this amazing school have truly changed my life and, after seeing the world, I am so happy to call Saint Vincent my home.


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Topics: study abroad, internship, London, Natalie Ambrozic, Ireland, international marketing

My House in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Posted by Abby Bryant on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

Peace Corps House

One of the most frequent questions I get is about my living conditions as a Peace Corps volunteer. Despite the fact that more and more volunteers are living in houses or apartments in cities or towns with complete amenities (refrigerators! wifi!) my house leans more towards the stereotypical house in the jungle side of things.  

I'm very lucky to have a huge, awesome house and an awesome landlord. Though rent is valued at $25 per month, I am instead putting that money towards building a bathroom and improving the house. My house is in the center of town within 5 minutes of the school, our community pavilion, a small store, and 5 other homes.  

Pre-Peace Corps, I expected living without basic amenities like electricity and clean water to be pretty challenging, but as I've come to realize, it's actually quite relaxing.  And that's coming from someone who hadn't really even gone camping before!  


peace corps house

peace corps kitchen

Last but not least, here is a video tour of my house:

Topics: Peace Corps, Panama, Volunteer Abroad, Abby Bryant

I See London, I See France

Posted by Natalie Ambrozic on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 02:49 PM

Hey everyone!  This is my last week in London and I can barely believe it until I realize how much I have done during my stay. My internship has been amazing and I have been able to learn so much while I’ve been here. Quite a lot has happened since my last post, so I will try to fill you in on the highlights of these past two weeks. First off, my friends and I were able to travel to Paris, which is a city I have always wanted to visit. To my surprise, however, I did not like the city very much and I was glad that we were only there for a weekend. I don’t want to bash Paris too much, but the overall environment did not feel welcoming and they have an awful metro system. In spite of this, I am glad that I went on the trip, and seeing the iconic destinations in this city was still a great experience. My favorite part was climbing 300 steps to the top of Montmartre and seeing the view of the city.  

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(Me at the Eiffel Tower)

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(Notre Dame)

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(View from the top of Montmartre)

The next weekend, my friend and I went to WB Studios, Leavesden to see where the Harry Potter films were made. This was so exciting because nearly all of the sets from the films were still intact and hundreds of props were on display. I especially loved seeing the detail put into Dumbledore’s office and the potions classroom, as well as the Great Hall. Probably the most breathtaking part of the tour was seeing the giant model of the Hogwarts castle. The model is incredibly detailed and takes up an entire room in the studio (a very large room, I might add). Up until the sixth film, the model was used to film all of the scenes that showed Hogwarts from above because the current CGI technology was not at a level that would have made Hogwarts look acceptable for the films. I was amazed when I heard that!

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(Great Hall)

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(Dumbledore’s office)

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(Me on the Knight Bus)

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(Hogwarts model)

That same weekend, we also visited the Portobello market, Hampstead Heath, Abbey Road, and the house where the Parent Trap was filmed. We also went to Tower Hill at night to see the city lit up. Tower Bridge looked amazing as usual, and we also visited the ancient wall built during the Roman occupation of Britain. There also were thousands of ceramic poppies on display outside the Tower of London to honor the soldiers who perished during WWI. This was a hauntingly beautiful sight, especially at night.

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(Roman wall)

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(Tower Bridge)

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(Poppies outside the Tower of London)

I am going to miss London so much when I leave, but I am also glad to be going home soon. Before that, though, I am going to visit my friend Rachel in her hometown of Belfast! My friend Mary will be there as well, and I can hardly wait to see both of them. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Topics: study abroad, Paris, London, England, Natalie Ambrozic

"Imagine this town in the '20s. Paris in the '20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!"

Posted by Austin Summers on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

describe the imageMy second stop took me to the lovely city of Paris. I was looking forward to this city because one of my favorite movies from the past 4 years happened to be "Midnight in Paris" by Woody Allen. If you haven't seen it and want to experience Paris in one of the most romantic, historical, and funny ways possible, I would suggest looking into that movie.

I hadn't seen it for a while before heading over (I meant to, but I never got back around to watching it again), but I planned to try to see as many thing from that movie as possible while I was over in Paris. I didn't see too much due to crazy business, but I was able to sit on the same exact steps that Owen Wilson sits every night in Paris to catch the yellow car that takes him away.

Aside trying to find all the beautiful B Roll spots from "Midnight in Paris,"Paris was a fun city to be in. In all honesty, I wasn't able to enjoy it the way that I wanted to due to the location of the group's hotel and the poor metro system they have there. Yet, although I have told many of you that I wouldn't go back (Sorry, I've been back from my trip for a week but have fallen behind on the blog here), I think, if I could change some things and knew what to expect I would probably revisit it. I would certainly have to watch "Midnight in Paris" again before heading over.

Here are all my pictures of Paris anyways. I don't have a cool song that makes them super romantic, but watch the second video if you want to have that Paris longing.

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Talk to everyone next week when I parlay my travels in Milan.  

describe the image

Topics: study abroad, Austin Summers, Paris

Castles, Giant Rocks, and Hailstorms

Posted by Natalie Ambrozic on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 10:26 AM

Hi everyone! I got to see some other areas of England recently when my friend and I went on a bus tour to the Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford. This tour was a great way to see all of these places because some of the locations would have been hard to travel to on our own.

First off was Windsor Castle, one of the queen’s many homes. Everyone knows about Buckingham palace, but apparently the queen doesn’t like to stay there and only visits when she needs to work. Windsor Castle is her favorite place to stay. The castle, in its original state, was built in the 11th century and is extremely rich with history because of this. Different monarchs had renovations done throughout the centuries and a fire destroyed over 100 rooms in 1992. The queen needed to raise money for the repairs so she started allowing tours in Buckingham palace to raise the money. We had a chance to tour the beautiful state apartments within the castle, which are used for hosting events. They were filled with priceless art and gorgeous architecture, but we unfortunately were not allowed to take pictures, so you’ll just have to Google them to see what I’m talking about. Windsor castle is also one of the only places you can actually get your picture taken with one of the royal guards, so of course I had to seize the opportunity!windsor 1 resized 600windsor 2 resized 600

(Windsor Castle)

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(Me with a guard at the castle)

After this, we went to Stonehenge. The area around the stones is blocked off for preservation purposes, so you are not allowed to walk inside the stones, but you can walk around the edge. I was surprised that the stones were not bigger, honestly, but it was really cool to see this mysterious landmark. Some of the stones that these ancient people used were moved from thousands of miles away and the biggest one weighs 25 tons. The fact that we still have no idea why Stonehenge was constructed is so bizarre, especially when so much effort was put into its construction.stonehenge resized 600

(Me at Stonehenge) 

Our last stop was Oxford, where we took a walking tour of the university and town. The influence that this town has had on history is truly remarkable when you think about how many influential people were educated at the university. There were even some sites from the Harry Potter films on campus, which made me particularly excited. In the middle of our walking tour, a crazy thunderstorm broke out and our group had to flee back to the bus. The rain was a torrential downpour and it even started hailing on us! My friend and I had to share an umbrella so we both were pretty soaked when we got back on the bus, but the outlandish situation had us laughing our heads off.deer hat resized 600

(Me wearing a deerstalker hat at Oxford)oxford 2 resized 600

(Oxford in the sunshine)oxford rain resized 600

(....and during the biblical storm)

So despite the rain (and hail), I had a wonderful time on the tour and I’m so happy I was able to see these amazing locations. I was also able to see Les Miserables in the West End a couple days ago. The show had some of  the best singers I have ever heard in my life and a revolving stage. Apparently the stage makes 63 rotations each performance! The whole show was simply incredible. I am also heading to Paris this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited! More updates are soon to come!

Topics: marketing, summer program, study abroad, internship, public relations, London, England, Natalie Ambrozic, international marketing, travel

A Delicious Way to Teach Business

Posted by Abby Bryant on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 02:19 PM

Since one of the biggest aspects of my job as a Peace Corps volunteer is teaching basic business skills and encouraging small scale entrepreneurship, I'm always on the hunt for fun or interesting ways to get villagers interested and involved.  Though sometimes I put a lot of thought into how I'm going to present certain topics, other times it's just gotta happen organically.  

What started out as a fun rainy day activity- baking with the women in my community- has actually become my most successful business class!  Once or twice a month I host a women's Baking & Business class in which some of the local ladies and I bake cakes, cookie bars, sweet breads, etc., and as we wait for the sweets to bake, we talk about product costs, pricing margins, product development, and basic marketing.  

Baking and Business Classes

Since only two or three families in my town have ovens and most still cook over an open fire, we too bake our desserts over an open fire in a McGyver type of makeshift oven.  It's simple- a baking pan on top of an empty tuna can inside a larger pot with a lid- but it works.  

A Makeshift Oven works well!

I usually try to incorporate local ingredients into the products- and since there are bastante bananas, oranges, lemons, cocoa, coffee, and coconuts, it's not too hard.  Needless to say, we're never short on taste testers :)

Teaching baking and business skills

Though most of the women haven't started officially selling their sweets yet, I'm hopeful for the future. They have started baking on their own, and our store owner has pledged his support, so that when they are ready to sell, he'll be their first buyer.  

Topics: Peace Corps, Panama, Abby Bryant

About this Blog

In Bearcats on the Road, students chronicle their lives while studying abroad or completing internships away from campus.

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About the Authors

Savannah Butler is immersing herself in Taiwanese culture this summer. The marketing major will learn Mandarin during her trip. 

Austin Summers is a junior marketing major at Saint Vincent. This summer, he's going on a tour of Europe - traveling to London, Paris, Milan and Florence to study fashion marketing.

Natalie Ambrozic is a senior marketing major at Saint Vincent. This summer, she'll intern as an assistant publicist with Premier Entertainment in London, England.

Stephanie Rukavina, a junior early childhood education major, is interning at a Montessori School in Dublin, Ireland this summer.

Abby Bryant graduated from Saint Vincent College with degrees in Marketing and International Business in 2013. That June, she joined the Peace Corps to work as an Agri-business Volunteer in Panama, teaching business practices to local farmers. 

Michael Cerchione is a junior management major at Saint Vincent. He studied abroad in Florence, Italy this spring semester. 

Michael Orange is a sophomore biology major at Saint Vincent. During the 2013/2014 winter break, he ventured into Mexico for a month-long study abroad experience.

Katie Kohler is a junior communication major at Saint Vincent College. In Spring 2013, she studied abroad in Australia, and wrote about her journey on this blog.