Discovering the SAF difference: Inside our program specialists' personalized campus visits

Program specialist Kelly O'Hanlon welcomes SAF students in the fall at CSULB

At SAF, we believe studying abroad is about more than just academics; it's about feeling at home, no matter how far from home you are. That's why our program specialists are always there to welcome you.

Once you arrive for your study abroad experience, our team is there to help you find your way around campus, and offer a friendly, supportive space where you can talk about your study abroad adventures. These personal visits from our team are a key part of what we do, and they're as enjoyable for us as they are for you. This means providing not just great places to live with all the comforts you need but also fantastic resources on campus and chances to eat out and bond with your fellow students.

This year, our specialists have been busy connecting with students at top universities all over North America, from California to Toronto. Here’s a look at some of the things our team has done during their visits.

Creating community at California’s top universities

Our fantastic team member, Alex de Gala, visited students at some of California's most prestigious schools, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and San Jose State University, as they started their Fall and Winter semester programs. Alex helped students settle into their new home at Ryder on Olive, UC Davis's furnished student apartments known for their modern amenities, including a lively outdoor pool, breathtaking views, a dedicated study lounge, and private study rooms. 

Beyond campus, Alex took students from all three universities to enjoy the best local delicacies, ranging from fresh deli sandwiches to mini cupcakes and other sweet treats from a well-known local bakery. 

SAF program specialist and SAF students pick up treats from a local bakery near UC Davis


The living room at Ryder on Olive student housing at UC Davis


A typical bedroom at Ryder on Olive student housing at UC Davis


Guided journeys through academic landscapes

Kelly O’Hanlon recently visited newly arrived students at several top California universities, including UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). 

At UCLA, she assisted students in settling into their chic, California-style residences located in the vibrant and secure neighborhood of Westwood in Los Angeles. In Long Beach, Kelly guided students around the CSULB campus, showcasing its diverse facilities, such as the College of Business and its outdoor study spaces that make the most of the pleasant Californian coastal climate. Over at UC Santa Barbara, she organized a fun pool game in the student lounge, gave a tour highlighting landmarks like Kerr Hall and the Campus Store, and helped students move into their residences, complete with an inviting outdoor pool.


Program specialist Kelly O'Hanlon visits with newly arrived SAF students in Long Beach, California


Kelly O'Hanlon visits with a large group of SAF students in Santa Barbara


SAF program specialists tour CSULB campus with new students


A warm welcome in the Great White North

Up in Canada, at two of the country's highly acclaimed universities, SAF's Director of Program Management, Lucia You, made a special visit to students starting their September semester at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the University of Toronto. Lucia met with the students at the campus language center, a hub designed to enhance both linguistic skills and interpersonal connections, and toured the cozy campus dorms to make sure everyone was settling in. 

Her visit ended with a meal out, where students had the chance to share their hopes and excitement for their new adventure in Canada. This warm and friendly gesture was particularly comforting as they geared up for the approaching fall season.


SAF Director of Program Management Lucia You meets students at University of Toronto


SAF program specialists settle students into their new residences at University of Toronto


Students have lunch with SAF Director Lucia You at Saint Mary's University at University of Toronto