Temple University Study Away Program Opens Unimaginable Doors

Marissa Nicole Pina, for GPA -- I grew up in Allentown, PA, and so it may seem odd that I never had my sights on Philadelphia as somewhere to live. My parents weren’t too keen on my preference to attend college in New York City. And so I settled for Philadelphia, somewhere I had barely been. I chose Temple University because I figured it was the perfect distance away from home and still provided the attraction of urban living.

When I was 16 years old, I walked onto Temple’s campus to tour the school that would eventually become my home for four years. It was on this tour that I first heard about the possibility to study and work abroad. As a Photojournalism major I have a desire to travel the world and photograph it. Ever since that first day on campus I knew I would travel abroad to London my junior year and work internationally.

Fast-forward about three years. It’s late August and I’m about to board a plane to London for my Fall 2013 semester abroad. I spent the previous semester applying, filling out forms, and working with the friendly people of the Study Away office to make my dream a reality. It was a long couple months leading up to August 26th, some days filled with anxiety and tears while others pure joy, but the minute I stepped onto that plane bound for England, I felt relief.

My time in London will always be one of the best periods of my undergraduate career. Not only was I studying, I was able to secure an amazing internship within a fashion brand. Semester to semester, the study away office at Temple work tirelessly with the Foundation for International Education and a list of companies to ensure that each student who takes part in the internship portion of the program is placed effectively. They certainly delivered for me.
I was placed with the company Hiro + Wolf, which is a small fashion brand that specializes in handmade pet accessories and works with artisans in Kenya to produce the jewelry, bags, and other accessories the brand sells. I threw myself head-first into the work that they offered me because I recognized that I was making serious strides toward the international career I wanted.

I was photographing style edits and products, making videos, designing layouts and even helping with merchandising. The greatest opportunity came along one day when my bosses asked me to accompany them on their annual trip to Kenya.

Without much further thought, I found myself flying out to Kenya alone one day in late October. It was here that I realized how lucky I was to have this opportunity. How many other American 19 year olds were jet-setting to Kenya with the company they were working for while living in London? Kenya was the most eye-opening experience I have had in more ways than one, and I know that I will always value the experience.

Recently, I have become a Peer Advisor to work alongside the magnificent team in the Study Away office at Temple’s School of Media and Communication. Above all, I want to continue to share my passion for study abroad and to highlight how key Temple was in my success.

Ultimately, I aspire to be a photo editor at a fashion magazine like Vogue or Nylon. With this study abroad experience under my belt, I feel as if I can tackle my large dreams and achieve them.


All photos courtesy of Marissa Pina