Friday January 18, 2013Jamie Shisler: Enlightening summer with UF Study Abroad Program
by Eden Otero, UF Communications
Sophomore Jamie Shisler, spent her summer over 4,000 miles away from her friends, family and even gymnastics.
The Naples, Fla., came to Gainesville last spring when she enrolled at UF for her first experience with NCAA Gymnastics and life without Mom and Dad.
After leaving Naples, Shisler fell in love with the atmosphere Gainesville provided. Small things like the team support, a younger population and even the difference in personalities between the two cities located in the same state.
“I love how it’s far enough away to be some place completely different, but its close enough to home that it’s totally doable,” said Shisler.
Over the past summer, Shisler decided to go to school outside of the Eastern Time Zone, in fact, across the Atlantic Ocean to the Central European Time Zone. She joined the University of Florida’s Study Abroad Program to visit Brussels, Belgium, where she studied the European Union and the World and Politics in Islam in Europe.
After visiting six countries and 12 cities in just seven weeks, Shisler was able to see landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, expand on her high school French and visit government headquarters like NATO and the European Parliament.
Of all the countries and cities that Shisler visited, Budapest, Hungary, was her favorite. She didn’t intend on going to Budapest, but a slow Wednesday and cheap airline prices confirmed her and her friend’s departure for the next morning.
“We were just like, ‘Well we have nothing to do this weekend,’ so we looked up flights and Budapest was the cheapest, so the next morning we woke up and went to Budapest,’ said Shisler.
She even took the train to meet up with fellow Gator gymnast, Marissa King and UF Assistant Coach Robert Ladanyi, in London, where King was training for Great Britain’s 2012 Olympics Trials. The trio spent a day together seeing the city’s many famous landmarks.
Shisler enjoyed meeting up with King, but also made friends with the rest of the students who were on the Study Abroad trip. After traveling with students from all over the United States and even some from other countries, Shisler was well bonded with her fellow peers.
“It’s a bond that we will have forever; traveling and meeting new people,” said Shisler. “It’s just really cool.”
She describes the trip as one of enlightenment. After being given opportunities to experience the European debt crises on a first-hand level, Shisler decided she wanted to major in economics.
“I knew I wanted to do something with business,” said Shisler. “The classes that I took abroad actually got me really interested in economics.”
Shisler is not only majoring in economics, but she has also joined the University of Florida’s Honors Program. The program gives all honors students the opportunity to participate in smaller classes that are taught by doctorate professors in subjects that range from fiction writing to Origami.
To complete the program, Shisler has to earn a total of 14 points which are achieved through academics and enrichment opportunities, like studying abroad or taking internships. Completing the program will allow her to graduate under the Honors Program and with an honors medallion.
While Shisler is working hard in class, she has also proven herself in the gym during preseason.
In her first season with UF, Shisler’s competitive appearances came in the vault. This season, she’s training balance beam and floor exercise also. In the 2013 season opener, Shisler led off the Gators’ vault and floor exercise lineups.
“I have a new floor routine, so that will be exciting,” she said. “Whether I will compete beam or not, I don’t know, but it’s been fun to train on three events and contribute to intrasquad.”
She has been working hardest on refining skills on her vault during preseason, but she said her main goal is to just continue to progress throughout the season.
With a busy year ahead for Shisler, she seems well on track to reach her goals.