Loyola University Chicago

Study Abroad

Martina Mazzei

Peer Ambassador

B.A. in progress, Economics, Loyola University Chicago
B.A. in progress, International Studies, Loyola University Chicago

I studied abroad at the Loyola Vietnam Center in the spring of 2018. A native Italian, I spent my childhood roaming Milan and Florence with my family and cousins. Around 10 years ago, my family moved to Minnesota and my American adventure began. I knew from the start that I wanted a non-traditional study abroad experience, something as unique and interesting as my story so far.

For me, Vietnam was this option. Studying and living for four months in Southeast Asia allowed for experiences I would never have had in any other country or even region of the world. My traditional day would start with a banh mi on the back of a motorbike, zooming my way to class. During the 5 minute class break, I would buy fresh cut pineapple from the vendor outside of the university. Lunch would be at a rice place right around the corner, surrounded by hurried businessmen. Dinner would be my most casual affair, a bowl of pho while sitting on a plastic stool on a street corner close to the dorm.

Aside from my love affair with Vietnamese cuisine, I was able to see, right in front of my eyes, the incredibly fervid development of a bustling country. Everything we discussed in class, whether that be economic policies and reforms, environmental concerns, or women’s rights, I saw play out outside of class. I wish there was a way to go back and do it all over in the same way again, but change is such a constant part of life in Vietnam that everyone will have a completely separate experience.

The best advice I can give to prospective study-abroad students is to say “yes”. The best experiences were the ones I didn’t plan for, a nighttime motorbike tour of the city, a spontaneous karaoke outing, or cooking on the floor with my Vietnamese partner’s family.

I’m excited to be working with OIP as an ambassador and I look forward to helping many other students find their right study abroad fit, and making these incredible memories for themselves.

Contact Martina if you are

  • LUC student wanting to learn more about study abroad, including questions about where to go, when to go, budgeting, and any other questions as you start to plan your overseas experience.