Alyssa is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Rome and Greece
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I've always known I wanted to study abroad so it was never really a question for me. The only thing I didn't know was where I wanted to go, but I have always dreamed of going to Europe and traveling around. That's what really drew me to the Roman-Greco program. I liked the idea of getting to experience two different cultures during my extended time abroad. Another huge selling point for me was the classes that the program offered. I am an accounting major on the CPA track so I have to carefully plan out my classes in order to graduate in 4 years. Thankfully, Roman-Greco offered all the common curriculum courses I needed. Since many of the other courses did not, I knew Roman-Greco was definitely the choice for me.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression?
While there were so many incredible cultural experiences that made an impression on me, there is one that really sticks out to me. A large group of people from my program went to Istanbul, Turkey for a long weekend. The city itself was incredible but the instance that sticks out to me the most was when we were playing frisbee in a grassy area outside a popular tourist site. Many foreigners have never seen a frisbee before so they were very fascinated by it. Locals and other tourists visiting the site came over and asked if we would teach them how to play. I will always remember how nice they were and how genuinely excited they were to learn how to throw a frisbee. Although we couldn't understand they said, we were still able to communicate with them. An experience like this one can only happen while traveling. It was so cool to see different cultures colliding and I will always remember it.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Describing my experience is the hardest thing for me to do. There are no words that adequately describe my time and pictures do not do it justice either. It honestly was the time of my life. I loved experiencing so many new and different cultures. I loved meeting the people and I loved just doing everyday tasks in a different way. It really opened my eyes and taught me that I should look at things from multiple perspectives. Not to mention it was also so much fun! I had a great group of CSB/SJU students with me that I loved getting to know. We went on many weekend group excursions that were part of the program that I will forever remember. Overall, my study abroad experience was one of the best experiences I've ever had. It's something you can't explain unless you personally experienced it so I highly recommend any study abroad program to anyone who is thinking about going.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Studying abroad made me realize how global our world really is. I always hear in class about multinational businesses but living in Minnesota makes this really hard to comprehend. However, walking past American businesses in Rome, or Munich, or London makes the class discussion so much more real. It made me realize how many opportunities there are all over the world. Plus, I know this experience is going to be a huge help when I am job searching. Potential employers love to hear about my experiences and what I learned from them. It is definitely something that sets me apart from other applicants in the job market.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My best advice is do not be afraid to try everything! It's always scary trying something new but you will always learn something about yourself and usually have a great story to tell. Plus, after the fact, you will forever regret not going outside your comfort zone.
On a more practical note, my other piece of advice is pack light! I'm sure everyone will say this (because everyone told me), but it's honestly one of the best pieces of advice. Suitcases get so heavy to carry around and you really do not need as much stuff as you think. Plus, almost everything is available to you at the program site. At the end of my time abroad, it was crazy how much stuff I had accumulated and then I had to figure out how to bring it all home, so the lighter you can pack, the better!