Students of FIE: Dan Marotz

Dan Marotz

Hockey player | Non-traditional student (24+ years old) | White | Gaming nerd
CN Dan
Taking a hike during a weekend trip to Wales

Welcome back to this week’s blog post! Today, you will meet Dan Marotz, a Senior at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University studying Global Business. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and played junior hockey for three years before heading to university. He is 24 years old and the oldest student in my study abroad group. Grandpa Dan will share with you how he decided to study abroad, advice for when you are abroad, and MORE! Enjoy!

What is your story of being a non-traditional student?

“I played junior hockey for three years, so I graduated high school in 2012. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do [after high school], and a guy [I met] said, ‘If you want to play college hockey, you have to do junior hockey.’ I wasn’t sure if I wanted to because I had a lot of friends that were going to St. John’s [who] were all my age. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give that up and do my own path. If it wasn’t for my dad and my cousins and my mom, I probably would’ve just gone [to college] because that was the comfortable thing to do. They sort of pushed me to do the uncomfortable thing and take at least one gap year off. Then I loved junior hockey so much that I wanted to play a second one, and after my second year, I was like, ‘Screw it! I’ll just age out and play my third and final year!’ Those three years are some of the most fun I’ve had just playing hockey and working. It [is] awesome I get to say I’m 24 and [am] really old.”

How did being a non-traditional student affect your decision to study abroad?

“I guess [it was] easy. A lot of my friends already graduated; I didn’t know any of you guys at all. Because so many of my friends left at the end of May last year, I was like, ‘Man, this is going to kind of suck. I’m still friends with the hockey guys, but the majority of my super close friends were gone. I was struggling to find an internship, which we need to graduate as a business major, and I knew that London and Dublin had the internship tied in. It was practical from that end. Also, this is the perfect time for me to go abroad. I don’t have super duper close friends holding me back. My dad studied abroad in Greece, and my mom studied abroad. She’s been all over the place. Once I told them back in November [I wanted to study abroad], they were like ‘Yeah! Do it, do it!’ It was random; I just decided one day. I woke up, and I was like, ‘Let’s look at the study abroad stuff.’ Then, I ended up really liking it, so I chose London.”

During the first half of the semester, how has being a non-traditional student shaped your study abroad experience? Any highs or lows?

“I haven’t had any lows, and I think that’s because I’m a little older. I know that other people that are 20/21 [years old] haven’t had their lows either. My last year of juniors, I lived with another family [and another hockey player], so I was out on my own. He and I ended up ordering food and cooking food for ourselves, so we were kind of on our own. We were just living in this family’s house. I think I’ve always been a pretty laidback person, but I think it helped me mature a little bit. I’m pretty easygoing, so I haven’t had major culture shock or anything like that. If I had gone right from high school to college to this, I probably would have been a little bit more rattled. I’m just so easygoing that nothing usually bothers me, so I try to not let it bother me.”

Has FIE supported you before or during your time abroad? If yes, how? If no, how could they?

“I don’t have a laptop, so this laptop I’m using right now is theirs actually. The back story behind it was I was like, ‘Oh, I should probably get a laptop.’ After my senior year, more towards my last years of juniors, and definitely when I got to college, [my parents] have basically been like, ‘Dude, if you want [a laptop], you got to go buy it yourself.’ [It] sounds like it sucks, but I actually appreciate it. It taught me how to manage my money. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, we should buy an Apple laptop.’ It was a grand, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to buy a thousand-dollar laptop.’ My parents were like, ‘We’ll see if you can get by the first semester without a laptop, and then, we’ll go from there.’ I lived in Tommie, and all 4 floors had a computer lab. I did all my homework there my freshmen year. Then, we forgot the fact that I didn’t have a laptop, so I went into sophomore year without one. The place I lived in had a computer lab, and last year had a computer lab. I’ve not really focused on getting a laptop, and here I am my last semester basically.

“But the internship said I needed a laptop, so I brought it up in the interview. I was like, ‘So, this whole laptop thing, how important is it?’ She was like, ‘Very because you’re going to have to go to businesses and basically do a PowerPoint.’ I called Eleanor, my internship advisor, and she was like, ‘Yeah, we rent laptops.’ Now, I’m just using this for free, so that’s how [FIE} have helped. Otherwise, I would’ve had to buy one here, and that would have been way more expensive.

“It’s nice to know that [FIE is] there. I’ve called them multiple times, and they’ve always been super nice. I called them about where my internship was. I’ve talked with Eleanor like 5 or 6 times about different things. When I went to go scout out where my internship was, the receptionist had no idea what I was talking about. I talked to Eleanor, and she was like, ‘Yeah, you’re in the right building. Don’t worry. It’s because they’re a start-up.’ They’ve been really good at stuff like that, where I was freaking out, and they reassured me.”

Would you recommend other non-traditional students to study abroad?

“Yes. Absolutely. It’s kind of hard for specifically hockey players to travel abroad because it’s not like football or baseball where it’s [a] one semester sport. It’s two semesters, so if you want to go study abroad, you have to be like, ‘Hey, Coach. Sorry, I’m going to quit.’ I got lucky [because] I don’t play for St. John’s. Even if you took a gap year, I would definitely say go study abroad. There’re not many chances you get to do it. This would be so expensive if you and I were doing it on our own, so I would definitely recommend [to study abroad] anywhere. Europe’s always been my go-to, but I’ve heard that China and all those other [study] abroad programs are really great, too. Now that I’ve been here for almost 2 months, it’s awesome. I love it!” 

Is there anything you wish you knew before coming abroad?

“The transaction fees suck for ATMs, but I feel like that’s a personal problem. I have [an account] with Capital One, and it’s not even that big of a problem. The conversion rates aren’t quite in favor of us, but that changes from semester to semester.”

What advice do you have for future students studying abroad?

“Try to not be the stereotypical American. When I went to Sainsbury’s (the grocery store) on Sunday last week, I went by myself. I’m minding my own business, and there were a few Americans in their shopping. They were so loud; it was absurd. They were 10 feet apart from each other, and they were almost screaming at each other. Trying to fit in, I would say, is a big one. You can let people know that you’re American. I’m proud to be an American, but I’m not going to be like THE stereotypical American where you’re annoying and loud.

“[Another thing], just go out and do stuff even if it’s by yourself. I’ve been out by myself visiting things. When I went out to scout out the internship, it was awesome. I had no idea where I was, I mean I knew where I was going, and I knew how to get back, but none of us had ever been in that area before. It was just really nice being out on my own. I would say don’t always rely on everybody doing everything with you. Get out there and do stuff on your own. It’s fun. I feel pretty safe around here, so it doesn’t feel dangerous.”


Even though Dan is two to three years older than the rest of the students in my group, I believe he fits in perfectly. I treat him like any of my good friends and even forget that he is older than me. I hope you had fun meeting Dan and that he convinced you to study abroad! This week’s challenge is to do something on your own, like Dan mentioned! I believe it is extremely important for people to be comfortable and content doing things on their own. This is something I have been working on and studying abroad pushes me to. If you have any questions for me or Dan, feel free to reach out to me at I would also love to read about your study abroad experience! Cheers!


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