Fabio Cristiano is an Italian Marketing student at Ulster University, Belfast and is currently spending the term in Prague, Czech Republic.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are, and why you chose to take part in IAESTE.
I am an EU student (Italian) studying BSc Marketing in Northern Ireland. I’m a proactive person and like to get involved in lots of different activities to develop my skills. I also love travelling and learning about different people and cultures so I thought that taking part in an IAESTE placement would give me the opportunity to do both; learn new skills and broaden my cultural knowledge.
What has been the best part of your time abroad so far?
Definitely the people I’ve met. I’ve been able to make friends through events organised by IAESTE staff, such as bowling, laser tag battle and paddling on the river. I've also been able to enjoy weekend trips to Prague, Munich and Budapest organised by different IAESTE committees and a games night along the banks of the Vltava River in Prague.
How has your time abroad benefited you so far in terms of your skills and employment?
I’ve had a great experience so far and I’ve found that I’ve grown both professionally and personally. My work project at ABB Robotics helped me to develop interpersonal skills in an international context, leadership and organisational skills. I’ve also developed my problem solving skills while coping with some unforeseen challenges.
What aspect of going abroad were you most worried about before leaving? How did you deal with it?
Because I’m Italian and at University in Belfast I’ve become used to travelling and living abroad so I knew I’d be able to overcome any problems I might be faced with in Prague.
Before I went I was perhaps concerned about accommodation and whether it would be comfortable, close to the city centre or well connected, affordable and living with people I would get on with.
Fortunately, in both of the places I have lived in – an IAESTE house and University dormitory – I’ve been sharing with pleasant people and in comfortable surroundings.
What advice do you have for people thinking about going abroad? Or taking part in IAESTE?
Do it! Get out of your comfort zone and experience life from a different perspective. I believe it’s well worth the time and effort to meet new people and experience different cultures. You’ll visit new places, have new experiences, make friends to last a lifetime and develop new skills.
What will you miss most when you go home?
The people I’ve met, but also the places I’ve been too. Prague is a friendly, fascinating, amazing city rich in history.
Walking along the Charles Bridge across the Vltava River on a summer evening with the lights of Prague Castle in the background is a magical experience; as is taking a walking tour around the old town.