Welcome one of our new Pioneers, Akemi Ohara! She is a freshman pre-nursing student from Folsom, California., and dreams of being an ER triage nurse. Akemi decided to join PUC because of the beautiful campus and the holistic approach to learning.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is to become an ER triage nurse. I love the quick decision, adrenaline-rushing, out-of-the-box thinking required for this kind of environment.
How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young?
From a very young age, I wanted to become a nurse, just like my mother, but I recently grew interested in the Emergency Room.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
My favorite place in the world is anywhere with my family. My family is my support and comfort when I am feeling down. I also love the mountains 🙂
If you had to be trapped in a movie for a day, what movie would you choose?
I would choose Moana! I love the ocean, and I love adventure. She is so connected to nature and how cool would it be to talk to animals!
What is something you’re passionate about?
I am passionate about learning and growing. You learn something new every day!
Recommend a place to go in the Bay Area on a weekend.
Japan Town!! If you love Asian cuisine and Daiso, I highly recommend checking it out. There is so much to do and see.
It’s obvious that college is a place for you to break out of your comfort zone, but you’d be surprised how many students hesitate to do so. It can be scary trying new things and meeting new people, but that’s why PUC has established many opportunities for students to partake in. Here are five ways to break out of your comfort zone.
Join A Club
With over 30 clubs at school, you will find a club that fits your interests, major, and culture. Clubs organize events throughout the year, which is a great way to meet other people within your department and outside of it. Joining a club is a good way to break you out of your comfort zone.
Go To School Events
There are many events throughout the school year for you to attend. Clubs, departments, dorms, and SA host various events for students to enjoy. Cheer on your Pioneers at their games too! Go to school events because you don’t want to miss out on the fun students and faculty plan for you.
Get A Job or Internship
If you’re interested in getting a job, whether within your department or outside of it, let your advisor know. They might know what jobs are available and connect you with people that are hiring. Getting a job is a fantastic way to break out of your comfort zone because you’ll be learning new skills and meeting new people.
If you need an internship for your major, meet with your advisor so they can help you find what opportunities are out there for you. You’ll be getting experience in your field early, which will look good on your resume and also help you gain a better understanding of where you want to work in the future.
PUC has many opportunities for students to volunteer. Talk to your advisor to see what volunteer opportunities on and off campus you can be a part of. Volunteering is not just a way to break out of your comfort zone, but to help others and see the world from a different perspective.
Put Yourself Out There
From joining clubs to volunteering to going on school trips, PUC gives you many ways to put yourself out there. This doesn’t just apply to new students, but returning students as well. Even seniors should put themselves out there! You’ll never know what else you could be missing to make your last year more memorable. Meet new people, try new things, and get the best out of your college experience.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is the beauty of college. It may be nerve-racking, but you won’t know what’s out there if you don’t allow yourself to get out there. Every student has had to break out of their comfort zone more than once.
Financial planning for college can be overwhelming, which is one your financial counselor is committed to working with you through the process and addressing any concerns, confusion, and complications you may have.
Across the main campus is the Student Wellness Center, which provides personal and career counseling and offers testing services. For counseling, qualified counselors will sit, listen, and help you with anything you’re going through. If you haven’t decided on a major, that’s okay! PUC’s career counselors will talk you through career options to find a major that would be a good fit for you.
Tutors at the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) are here to assist you with those classes that need extra attention. TLC offers small group and one-on-one tutoring sessions, a writing lab; and makes accommodations for those with learning disabilities. If you’re a student veteran, PUC’s key task force members will work with you to make your transition to college life as smooth as possible.
Your academic advisor is a valuable resource to you- whether it involves school, jobs, internships, or even life in general. With work and internships, they’ll connect you with people they know, and from there, you’ll continue to network and get your foot in the door. Your academic advisor wants you to succeed just as much as you do, so let them assist you in any way possible.
These are just five resourceful offices to familiarize yourself with. You might find other offices of use as the school year goes by. You can always check the campus map to know where each building is located.
Sarah West graduated from PUC this past school year with a Bachelor of Social Work & Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies. One year during college, she enrolled in the ACA Argentina program and loved the experience so much that she wanted to do a summer program- so she did. Sarah recently returned stateside after spending the majority of her summer studying abroad at Villa Aurora in Italy. Although there were a few setbacks, she shares that you will never regret going abroad.
Tell us about your time in Italy.
My time in Italy was amazing, even with the few bumps in the road. I got COVID my first week there, so I had to isolate for a week. But once I was freed (tested negative), I was able to return to class with ease. The classes all students take are Conversation, Grammar, art for tours, art history, and Italian culture. If you are not in the intermediate level, then you also take Phonetics. With the ACA program, we visited Cinque Terre, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Venice, and Siena. All of them are day trips, except Rome, which is an overnight stay.
What made you want to study in Italy?
I loved the ACA Argentina program so much that I knew I wanted to do a summer program before I graduate. So for me, it was between Italy and Spain. I had heard great things about the Italian cafeteria and that made my choice. I also had been to Italy once before and loved it, so I wanted to spend more time there.
You’ve also studied in Argentina. How have these experiences been different from each other?
The differences between the Argentina and Italy programs are the ability to travel. Italy is about the size of California, so with access to a car, bus, or train, you can really go anywhere in the county. Argentina on the other hand is about as long as the United States, and there are little pockets of towns/cities with nothing in-between. Argentina is good if your goal is to learn Spanish and experience the culture of Argentina. Italy, and I assume other European programs, are good for traveling, but more people will probably know English, so finding a push to learn the language may be a little more difficult.
Describe your time in Italy in three words.
What have been your favorite things about studying abroad in Italy?
I have loved learning about different cultures and history of the countries. I also like meeting people. While I was at the school in Italy, I ran into someone who I had met at the school in Argentina, and that was one of the craziest things I will probably ever experience.
Did PUC play a part in your preparation for Italy?
Yes, because one of my friends had done the ACA Italy year program, and she gave me some good heads up on what to expect. I was also able to conquer the hills of Italy due to the cardio of running around PUC campus.
What would you say to someone who is interested in ACA?
If you are interested in it, DO IT. You will never regret going, and all was regret not doing it. There will never be a time in your life when you will live in Italy for 6 weeks or Argentina for a year. You grow so much as a person and have a better understanding of yourself and the world.
Natalia Gomez recently flew back to her hometown of Santa Barbara after spending most of her summer studying abroad at Villa Aurora in Italy. Applying through ACA (Adventist Colleges Abroad), she saw that she didn’t know anyone in the program but decided to take a leap of faith and go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure before her senior year. By facing her fears, Natalia met amazing people on campus, learned Italian, explored new places, and indulged in delicious food every day. From her “HOT!, inspiring, and yummy” time in Italy, Natalia couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience.
How has your time in Italy been?
My time in Italy has been great! I’ve been able to visit and explore a new Italian city every week as well as really familiarize myself with Florence. It’s pretty exciting to be living in Florence and find my favorite spots to study or get gelato. I have definitely indulged and gotten gelato almost every day I’ve been here. School in Italy is not structured the same as back home, and learning a new language comes with its challenges, but it has been a lot of fun learning a new language and immersing yourself in the culture. I’d definitely say that I’ve gotten the most practice with speaking in Italian through talking with salespeople or waiters at restaurants. I didn’t always understand what they were saying at first or even what I was saying, but it made for some funny moments, and after a few weeks, I got the hang of it. I’m definitely not fluent, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to speak with locals in Italian as best as I can.
What inspired you to study in Italy?
I have to be honest, the foodie in me is what really determined me to study in Italy. I love pasta, and I love ice cream, and the thought of having the best of the best in Italy, on a regular basis? Sold! But of course, I also thought it would be really exciting to make new friends from all over the world. I really enjoyed going on an ADRA missions trip a few years back, and I made incredible friendships from that experience, and I was also hoping the same would come out of studying abroad! I actually took a really big leap of faith and decided to go abroad alone, without knowing anyone else in the program. And after my time here, I honestly would recommend going even if you don’t know anyone.
Describe your typical day studying abroad.
My typical day abroad: I wake up around 7 a.m. to get ready for breakfast at 7:30 at the caf or a quick trip to a nearby cafe. Then I go to classes from 8:40-1:15, usually getting some snacks from the vending machines during class breaks. Once I’m out of classes, I run over to the caf for lunch to be in the front of the lunch line because lunch is the best meal of the day on campus! And after lunch, some friends and I take off to our favorite spots to do homework and study. Then we explore Florence or go shopping before dinner. If I don’t eat dinner in town, I go back to campus for dinner, but regardless- I will always go out with friends after dinner for gelato. Then it’s time for an ice-cold shower before bed, it’s so hot in the summer, that’s the only way to fall asleep peacefully. (keep in mind, I was in Italy during Europe’s record-breaking heat wave). I usually fall asleep around midnight.
What have been your favorite things about studying abroad?
Surprisingly meeting new people has been my favorite thing! I’m actually a pretty shy person and studying in Italy without knowing anyone seemed scary at first. However, I’ve met amazing people while being here, from students to teachers and the volunteers who work on campus! I’ve had so much fun going out with everyone here that I’ve actually already made plans to travel and go out with some new friends after returning home!
What will you miss the most about your time abroad?
That’s tough, I miss so much! But I’d have to say exploring Florence in the afternoons after school was the best time. Practicing our Italian, finding new places, trying new foods – just adventuring without a plan was so fun! Some of the funniest memories came from us just taking advantage of our time and exploring. Was there an afternoon where at one point there were dark clouds and lightning off in the distance? Yes. Did we have jackets or umbrellas? Nope. Did we get caught in a rainstorm and end up running in the rain all over the city? Yes, we did, and it was one of the funniest nights ever. Truly just do it all!
Recommend an Italian dish or restaurant.
Medici’s has the best gelato and this has been confirmed by multiple locals! I went here almost every day of the summer- all the flavors are amazing! Although I’d have to say that Stracciatella is my favorite flavor of gelato, and this was the best place to get it. Everywhere else I went did not compare.
What would you say to someone who is interested in ACA?
Just go for it! Don’t let any of your fears or worries stop you from having once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It sounds so cheesy, but when else will you have the opportunity to be 18-22 ish running around a foreign city with friends, trying new foods, seeing beautiful landscapes, and learning about another culture? It’s probably one of the last times you’ll have a summer camp type of experience before you graduate and start working.