All posts by Cristian Jacome

SPC team travels to Geneva for MUN international conference, wins award

Model UN Students share experiences of traveling to Switzerland and France and visiting the Palais des Nations

Debating with Students from All Across the World

-Kingsley Hollon-Coleman

My trip to Europe with the SPC Model United Nations Team has, undoubtedly, been the highlight of my semester. Before arriving at the conference, we had an amazing day in Paris for sightseeing. The next morning, we took a train to Geneva and settled in at the hotel. We were very privileged to sit in the assembly hall of the Palais des Nations for the opening ceremony of the conference.

The Model United Nations conference itself was thoroughly exciting and engaging. I found myself speaking far more than I expected, and I debated with students from all across the world on issues pertaining to our simulated committee. On the final evening in Geneva, our team received the award for the best small university delegation.

On the final evening in Geneva, our team received the award for the best small university delegation.

I’m extremely proud to have led such a talented group of students as head delegate, and I’m so thankful to the program’s faculty advisors for organizing these trips and providing students with the valuable skills and training to compete in conferences like these.

-Kingsley Hollon-Coleman, SPC Student, Model United Nations 2019

Prior Preparation Leads to Conference Success

-Sofia Angelini

Travelling with SPC’s Model United Nations (MUN) team was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had in my time as a student. Generous funding made it possible for our group to focus on seeing famous landmarks and tasting regional foods. SPC faculty’s commitment to our experience, from how to move around foreign cities easily to what kind of chargers to bring, ensured the trip ran smoothly. 

The photo above shows our well-prepared team on the first day at WIMUN Geneva, excited for the week ahead. The first day, when we were given the opportunity to tour the United Nations office and around Geneva, was my favorite day, as the prospect of experiencing the conference and exploring a new country was exciting.

Our team excelled at WIMUN, a testament to our professors’ dedication and expertise. Thanks to our preparation prior to the conference, our team had well-written position papers, extensive knowledge on topics discussed and conference procedure, and compromising skills. This trip will remain a favorite memory from my time at SPC and in MUN.

-Sofia Angelini, SPC Student, Model United Nations 2019

Discovering the Characteristics of a Leader

-Adam Johnson

The entirety of the trip was amazing. I was able to travel to another country, meet new people, and tour one of the cities that I dreamt about in the past. If I had to pick my favorite day, it would be the day of the General Assembly Plenary meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva.

I was able to act as a leader and advocate for a positive and sustainable future for hundreds of students and faculty. When I was selected to present my speech to the General Assembly in Geneva, it felt as if I had accomplished something that could serve a higher purpose and I could share the things that I believed in, and that was an amazing opportunity that I will always be grateful for.

Before I was a member of the Model United Nations Team, I didn’t believe that I had the characteristics of a leader, but I know now that I can be a leader if I strive to reach the goals that I set for myself.

Before I was a member of the Model United Nations Team, I didn’t believe that I had the characteristics of a leader, but I know now that I can be a leader if I strive to reach the goals that I set for myself.

On the day of the plenary, I was representing France, and after I gave my speech, people who lived in France told me that I gave a speech that they could be proud of and they thanked me for representing them. That was a great feeling, and I was glad that other people could appreciate the things that I had to say. 

What I enjoy most about the Model United Nations Team are the positive characteristics that come alongside the constant preparation for the conference. I learned how to give strong public speeches, I learned to be confident in traveling alone and meeting new people and most importantly, I learned how to be a leader who can confidently advocate for positive environmental change.

-Adam Johnson, SPC Student, Model United Nations 2019

The Experience of a Lifetime

-Myleena Hurtado

To say that MUN gave me an amazing experience would be a lie. It gave me the experience of a lifetime! I joined the club in spring 2019 through the recommendation of Professor Slater, and I did not know what to expect. But as always, expect the unexpected. I was able to strengthen my skills in public speaking, researching, writing, and debating. To be able to go overseas with the school this fall was an opportunity I still can’t believe I was able to experience.

Going to Paris was a dream hence why I chose this picture. But to be able to visit the UN headquarters in Geneva was the best things ever. I loved being part of an international conference and interacting with college peers from Canada, Belgium, and different parts of the world.

I definitely want to thank SPC and MUN a million times for giving me this opportunity. Because now my interest in becoming a lawyer is something I am definitely going to pursue, along with being a successful businesswoman.

-Myleena Hurtado, SPC Student, Model United Nations 2019


Thank you Kingsley, Sofia, Adam, and Myleena, for sharing your experience!

SPC celebrates International Education Week, November 18-21


Come explore the world – right on SPC’s campuses – as we celebrate International Education Week Nov. 18-21, 2019. There will be events happening on all campuses, throughout the week. 

The Center for International Programs, in partnership with other departments, will provide information about the cultural diversity on our campuses, as well as information about the Study Abroad opportunities that SPC offers to students, faculty and staff. Learn about different cultures and explore other countries while getting immersed in our own international students’ experiences. Below is a list of events coming up for International Week. You can also download this flier for easy reference. We hope to see you there!

  • November 18-21 
    • Veterinary Technology Center – Study Abroad Info Table
  • Monday November 18
    • Downtown Center first floor, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Snacks from around the world
  • Tuesday, November 19
    • Health Education Center lobby, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – International Programs Info Table
    • Tarpon Springs Learning Commons, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – International Passport Event (food will be provided)
    • Allstate Center lobby, 4:30 – 6 p.m. – Study Abroad Info Table 
  • Wednesday, November 20 
    • Midtown Center first floor, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Snacks from around the world 
    • SP/Gibbs Campus SS lobby, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Music and snacks from around the world
  • Thursday, November 21
    • Clearwater ES 104, 12 – 2 p.m. –  International student voices
    • Seminole UP lobby, 12 – 2 p.m. – Take a photo in the Alps at Snow Fest and learn about Study Abroad

The Center for International Programs thanks all of you for your participation in these events.

SPC student discovers picturesque ghost towns and fairy tale villages in Spain

Encountering digital artworks, enchanting gardens, and majestic castles during study abroad in Spain.

– Alexa Ortiz, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Where do I start? There are numerous aspects of my experience in Spain that I could talk about: the sights that I’ve seen, the food that I’ve eaten, and even the number of hours that I have studied.

Maybe, the best way to begin would be to describe how photogenic the whole country is. From the beautiful Gothic cathedrals of Salamanca to the breathtaking views of countryside places like Alberca and Pena Francia, every sight in Spain had me pulling my phone out at least once every five seconds. 

Moreover, if you’re a gardener like my grandmother (or at least a flower person like me) then you’ll definitely be enchanted by some of the gardens and even home flower boxes that are in Spain, as they are lush arrangements of thriving plants and vibrant colors.

Festival de Luz y Vanguardia. Photo courtesy of Alexa Ortiz.

Next, there are the local events that occurred in Salamanca during my stay, such as the Festival de Luz y Vanguardia. This is an event where digital artists from across the globe create and submit short, but elaborate, computer-generated light shows to be showcased in Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor. These works were absolutely spectacular and worth seeing!

In fact, I found myself in complete awe of all the pieces that were featured and even felt like a five-year-old having to leave Disney once it started to get late and I had to start heading home. I was enthusiastically taking dozens of photos and videos of these pieces to share with my folks back at home.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the cultural experiences that I attended with my class. Two of my personal favorite excursions during this trip were to Granadilla and Alberca.

As far as ghost towns go, Granadilla is surprising beautiful, with its picturesque views of the area’s surrounding mountains and the reservoir located behind it. Moreover, the Medieval castle located near the town’s entrance is absolutely majestic, while its walls make it fun to explore around town.

However, it was sad to see the modern homes in this town vacant and abandoned. They seemed to serve as a testament to the sense of loss caused by the town’s financial failure and the death of its community’s dreams for the future. 

Alberca looked like a village straight out of a Disney movie: from the German-styled village houses and beautiful surrounding mountain-scape, to the lush floral arrangements found in the town square, you would’ve sworn that you stepped into a fairytale as soon as you entered town. There was even a babbling brook not too far from the plaza by which a few classmates and I ate lunch. 

Overall, this study abroad program was a very rich trip for me, especially in terms of all the sights and experiences that I was able to have while in Spain.

– Alexa Ortiz, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Thank you for sharing Alexa!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

Cover photo: Plaza Mayor (Salamanca). Photo by manuelfouce & anaramos, Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0].

SPC students experience regional cultures in coastal Spain (and France!)

Excursions to San Sebastian, Basque country, and the beach in Biarritz (France) during study abroad in Spain.

Considering further international study after learning Spanish in Salamanca

– Barry Russell, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

This place is glorious! Salamanca is a beautiful town with beautiful history and beautiful people. While fluent English-speakers are few and far between, the natives not only don’t bite, they actively aid you in saying what you mean. All of our excursions have been amazing as well. My favorite one was to San Sebastian and Biarritz.

Biarritz was my first experience in France and it was a fantastic one. They had what was probably the best beach I’ve ever been to. All in all, España has treated me very well and because of this experience, I am exploring an application to the University of Salamanca.

Becoming a world citizen through study abroad

– Deborah Ferguson, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

If you are interested in learning Spanish in an immersive environment and are an explorer at heart, this program is a life experience you will not forget.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Ferguson.

Not only will you learn Spanish, you will learn about a fascinating culture that is rich in history, architecture, art, and gastronomy. The Plaza Major is the town’s gathering place. Within the historic walls you will experience traditional dances, music, art, amazing tapas, even an occasional peaceful protest.

My personal favorite was spending time in San Sebastian and Biarritz, France. Not only did I practice speaking Spanish but I also heard Basque (an old language native to this area) and French. The culture in this region is rich with people that are able to speak several languages.

Those that may be apprehensive about traveling abroad, I encourage you to take the opportunity! You will be safe traveling with your group and will begin the journey of becoming a world citizen.


Thank you for sharing Barry and Deborah!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

Cover photo: City of Biarritz and the Atlantic Ocean, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France. Photo by Florian Pépellin, Wikimedia Commons, [CC BY-SA 3.0].

SPC student finds “a perfect opportunity to walk through history” in Spain

Learning about St. Theresa and the kings of Ávila, and seeing an enchanting walled city illuminated during study abroad in Spain.

– Derell Parrott, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

After being in Salamanca for over a week and a half it started to feel like my second home. I enjoyed my host mother Naty and new brothers and classmates, Lorenzo and Luis. Yesterday, after we walked to school, we took a group excursion to Avila, Spain.

Ávila was beautiful and enchanting, the city is known for it’s medieval walls and towers. It has multiple beautiful cathedrals and palaces that have been around for over 900 years. Because Ávila was cold and slightly windy, we were not able to walk the wall, but we did take a tour of the city.

The Walls of Ávila. Photo by Mon Lerma, Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 es].

During the tour we learned about St.Theresa and saw her home. We walked along the scenic route and passed different stores. We heard the bells ring while learning about kings that had ruled in this city.

Within the city walls are numerous cafes and restaurants. People who live there seemed to just go about their day while the tourists try to capture the perfect picture. I was pretty excited to see Ávila because parts of my favorite show, Game of Thrones, were filmed there.

After our tour we headed back to the bus and drove across town to a spot for taking pictures of the city from afar. We took turns taking our photos and took a group photo.

Our Professor had arranged for dinner at a local restaurant across the street. We sat down like a big family to a dinner of assorted tapas, which are small appetizers very common in Spain. It was very delicious and satisfying. For me it was a time to relax because the day before we had just completed midterms.

After dinner, the sun went down and we could see the city of Ávila illuminated. It was more just than just beautiful; it was phenomenal. I am grateful for the experience and I encourage any student to go on a study abroad program. It is a perfect opportunity to walk through history.

– Derell Parrott, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Thank you for sharing Derell!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

Cover image: Ávila. Photo by Anual, Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 3.0].

SPC student creates communication solutions on first day in Spain

Navigating a solo day in Madrid, exploring Spanish towns, and finding a beautiful beach in Biarritz, France during study abroad in Spain.

– Spencer Phillips, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

In Spain, I have been opened up to the culture and the language of Salamanca. It has definitely been an experience I won’t forget. I have learned so much in just two weeks. I am still not fluently speaking the language, but I have definitely learned how to say the important things.

My first day was in Madrid. I was all by myself because I got there a day before the program started. Considering I had never been in a foreign country by myself before, I was a little scared but at the same time I was ready to take on this new experience.

Luckily I met a guy on the plane who was doing a study abroad trip as well but he had been here a few times before. He ended up helping me find a Hostel and a taxi to get me there. It seemed like everybody was nice in Spain, which I appreciated.

While I was waiting to get checked into the hostel, which took a little too long, I met some very nice people. There was a very nice older lady who was waiting with me and she only spoke Spanish. Unfortunately I really only knew a couple of words but I had my Spanish dictionary out and I was trying to talk to her. She was very nice about it and made my first day in a foreign country very pleasant. I do have to say hostels aren’t the greatest places but for $25, what can you expect?

When we started the Spanish immersion program, I was really surprised with how busy we were and it wasn’t all educational–we did so many more things that I really enjoyed. I loved going to all the little cities in Spain to experience the culture of other places.

Surfers in Biarritz, France.
Photo by Vorlod, Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0].

My favorite excursion was to Biarritz. This was a nice little beach town in France–it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I got off the bus and sat down on a bench overlooking the city, the beach, and some of the mountains. I really didn’t want to move but I had to try out the beaches in France. The water was very cold but once you got in it really felt amazing. It was so clear and smelled so much better than any beach in Florida.

My experience in Spain has been amazing and I would recommend it to anybody who’s thinking about studying abroad.

– Spencer Phillips, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Thank you for sharing Spencer!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

Cover image: Vista de Madrid. Photo by Tomás Fano, Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 2.0].

SPC student rekindles his passion for flamenco guitar in Spain

An encounter with local student minstrels and a tour of a guitar factory inspire a new commitment to music during study abroad in Spain

– Keith Martin, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

España is famous for a variety of things, the most well known include: flamenco, jamón ibérico, the flamenco guitar, and Andalucian horses. Having had the opportunity to return to Spain a second time with St. Petersburg College, I must assert that there is so much more to this country than the aforementioned.

An amazing family welcomed me for the second time. Last year when I was required to repeat ´Esta casa es mi casa,´ (this house is my house), now they insisted I say ´Soy de casa´ (essentially, I am home). It would be difficult to describe my amazing experience in Spain so instead I will share a short story of happenstance that serves as an example of the amazing experiences one can encounter while studying abroad.

At the Marce guitar factory. Photo courtesy of Keith Martin.

Gloria, a housemate, and I were wandering back towards our Spanish home; stopped to check an ATM, bought a few postcards, some stamps, then randomly encountered a few others from our group.

Slightly bigger now, the group continued towards the Plaza Mayor and home, along the way finding a few others and Roxana Levin, our SPC instructor.

While chatting, a few students of the University of Salamanca, the third oldest institution of higher education in the world, emerged from a store wearing regalia resembling minstrels from many years ago. We asked for a photo; however, the most interesting part remains, Roxana asked if they would play a few songs for us.

Before long, we found ourselves at a cafe in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca listening to an impromptu live acoustic concert. It was an unplanned event that came together organically and might have never occurred with a single change in the stops we made prior to encountering everyone or the time spent at each.

Ana and her father at the Marce guitar factory. Photo courtesy of Keith Martin.

What is more, the next day our cultural activity included a tour to a guitar factory, Marce. They have been crafting guitars completely by hand in Spain for 49 years and provide guitars for some of the most famous classical and flamenco guitar players in the world.

Ana and her father, the founder, gave us an amazing tour with some students having the opportunity to participate in several steps of classical guitar construction.

Finally, as the tour finished, a Flamenco guitar called to me, reminding me of my own interest in the instrument that had remained latent for nearly 20 years. I now find myself the proud owner of a hand crafted Spanish Flamenco guitar, for a fraction of what it would cost anywhere else in the world and will likely be home in Clearwater before I will. Incidentally, the minstrels were playing Marce instruments.

– Keith Martin, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Thank you for sharing Keith!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

SPC student commits to public health career after study in Jamaica

Contagious happiness and generosity inspires long hours of service during study abroad in Jamaica.

-Veronica Vazquez, SPC Student, Jamaica Dental Program, October 2018

The trip to Jamaica was a huge learning experience. From the initial brainstorming sessions for fundraisers until the last day of the trip, we had to learn how to capitalize on our strengths and come together as a team to cover our weaknesses.

Once in Jamaica, you could not help but feel the love and warmth from the people. It was refreshing to see nothing but smiles. I learned very quickly that Jamaicans are very thankful for what they have and are willing to share it. Their level of happiness is extraordinary and very contagious.

We had the opportunity to work with Great Shapes in providing free dental care to those who could not otherwise afford it. They had a few different sites set up which allowed us to reach more people. 

I enjoyed rotating through the different locations. It gave me the chance to work with new people and have different types of dental hygiene experiences. We also went into the schools and educated the children on proper brushing, flossing, and dietary choices. 

The number of people in need was overwhelming. They would be lined up before the sun was up and still waiting when the sun went down. We worked as long as possible so that we didn’t have to turn anyone away. It was heartbreaking when we did. The buildings did not have electricity, or we would have worked throughout the night.

I am thankful that I was able to be a part of this group. The feeling of helping others is indescribable. I am inclined to work in public health once I graduate, and this experience only solidified my decision. The time I spent in Jamaica was humbling. It put things in perspective and reminded me that I am very lucky.

-Veronica Vazquez, SPC Student, Jamaica Dental Program, October 2018

Thank you for sharing Veronica!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |

SPC high school students enjoy language and cultural differences in Canada

Examining the shape of a snowflake, tasting French-Canadian specialties, and discovering breathtaking places during study abroad in Canada.

Discovering Montreal and its history

– Julianna Pettey, SPC High School Student, Canada Program, January 2019

Bonjour! I just got back from an amazing trip to Montreal and Quebec. Coming from sunny Florida, arriving in Montreal was a complete 180º turn, as far as temperatures are concerned. While exploring new cultures and food (Poutine!!), I was also realizing the importance of hand warmers and gloves.

Photo courtesy of Juliana Pettey.

In Montreal, we experienced a mix of the old and the new. Classic, rustic apartments stood right next to modern, contemporary ones.

One of the most fascinating things about Montreal is that their history is rooted and connected to the St. Lawrence River. We were lucky to have a breathtaking view of the St. Lawrence on the first day when we hiked up Mount Royal. From the top, we were even able to see parts of Vermont and New York.

All in all, this trip was more than I could ask for: I made some great friends, saw some amazing places, and ate some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. It’s definitely a trip I’ll never forget!

A winter wonderland experience

– Brianna Douglas, SPC High School Student, Canada Program, January 2019

Photo courtesy of Brianna Douglas.

My study abroad trip to Canada was a once in a life time experience. The first big memorable experience was our snowshoeing trip with the indigenous Wendat tribe. The snowy forest was a real life winter wonderland and we had the opportunity to walk through it in such a unique way.

We were able to see the unique shape of the snowflake which was absolutely breathtaking. We also toured Old Quebec city which was absolutely gorgeous, especially at night. We were able to walk through the old streets to experience what felt like a snowy wonderland. Overall, my trip to Canada was one of my most memorable experiences yet.

Immersed in the French language

– Vivian Foisy, SPC High School Student, Canada Program, January 2019

Photo courtesy of Vivian Foisy.

Visiting Canada in January 2019 was an unforgettable experience. There were so many activities each day to make sure our week abroad made an impact for each student.

One of the reasons I loved Canada was because of the language. Wherever we went in Quebec City and Montreal there were people who spoke French.

As someone who has taken French classes, I found it very interesting to hear people saying words that I understood, and to apply what I learned in those classes.

Being so close to the United States and being immersed in a completely different environment and culture made it easier to understand how different people really are. Because of this, I feel that I have a better respect for other people in the world.


Thank you for sharing Julianna, Brianna, and Vivian!

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you! | 727-341-4735 |