At only 21, UCF student Jenna Rice has already been to 11 countries – and counting. As a senior, Rice continues to travel, while blogging and writing about her experiences along the way.
“The world is too big to see so little of it,” Rice said.
Rice first became interested in traveling after her older brother studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, during the summer of 2012. Although she had previously traveled with her family in the U.S. and the Caribbean, she couldn’t wait for her own European experience.
“Hearing about my brother’s experience overseas really drove me to apply for study abroad,” says Rice. “I specifically remember him sharing some of his photos and stories with me after his travels, and I heard such passion in his voice. He quite literally could not stop talking about the architecture, food and history of Spain. I think that’s when I realized I wanted a similar experience.”
Although Rice’s brother spent his summer in Spain, Rice decided against it because she wanted an experience of her own.
“I think I ruled out Spain because I almost felt like I lived vicariously through my brothers photos,” Rice said.
While looking through the study abroad programs that UCF offered, Rice said Italy immediately stood out to her.
“I could completely picture myself walking amongst the Ponte Vecchio and passing the Santa Croce on my way to class everyday. And the fact that Florence is famous for pizza, pasta and gelato definitely helped,” Rice said.
Rice was accepted into the study abroad program and spent the summer of 2013 in Florence. During this time she was also able to travel to Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Venice, Cinque, Terre, Pisa, Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona.
According to Rice, the Amalfi Coast was one of her favorite places that she visited. There, she was in awe of the colorful cliffside buildings, she indulged in seafood pasta dishes and she even bought a pair of custom handmade sandals. Rice also went cliff diving in Capri, which is a nearby island.
“Even though it was summer, the water was ice cold,” says Rice. “After seeing the fellow travelers’ reactions when they jumped in, I almost didn’t do it. But then I realized that I might never have the opportunity to go cliff diving in the Mediterranean Sea so I went for it. I would do it all over again, given the chance.”
UCF senior Nicole Alexander, who was Rice’s suite-mate on the study abroad trip, said she came home to realize that she and Rice were deeply affected by an epidemic known as the “travel bug.”
“It is a very real thing,” says Alexander. “Jenna seized her plagued passion and took to blogging to share her experiences. I am inspired by her continuous dedication to travel and to experience new places.”
Rice publishes her blogs on her own website, jennakrice.com. Her blog posts are a combination of travel, lifestyle and professional topics. Rice recently created a weekly post called “Friday Favorites,” where she shares five of her favorite things at the moment.
“I wanted to begin posting content that tells my readers a little bit more about me and what I love,” Rice said.
Blogging isn’t the only type of writing Rice does though. Rice has an internship with College Tourist, which is a writer’s platform for college students who have a passion for traveling, where she frequently writes articles.
“I write articles every two weeks on travel topics and promote them on my social media platforms,” says Rice. “One of my responsibilities is driving traffic to their website and establishing their brand, and I’m more than happy to do it because their sole mission is to promote student travel.”
While scanning through her own study abroad photos for inspiration, Rice got the idea to write the article “The Top 10 Rookie Study Abroad Mistakes.”
“I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought about all of the slip-ups I made. Everyone is bound to make a few mistakes when spending a semester overseas, but I thought I’d help ease the load,” said Rice.
Gabriella Perez, a UCF alumna who also studied abroad with Rice, thinks the abroad experience has made Rice worldlier.
“Jenna readily accepted the culture and diversity. She tried new foods, explored new place, and it became a part of her,” Perez said.
Rice encourages other students to travel as well. According to Rice, the biggest mistake college students make is convincing themselves that they don’t need to travel now because they’ll have plenty of time to do it when they’re older.
“While that may be true, why wait?” says Rice. “Chances are you’ll have a full-time job and other obligations by then. Why not take advantage of the fact that you don’t have as many expenses, and save up some money to go on a life-changing adventure?”
Rice said her own traveling experiences will benefit her future because employers will see that she’s independent and has a sense for adventure. As for Rice’s future traveling plans, her goal is to go anywhere and everywhere that she possibly can.
“My travel experiences make me feel like the world is my oyster,” says Rice. “Traveling has helped me to become a happier and more confident person, and to be more fearless in life.”