Christine is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I gained a love and passion for traveling while I was still in high school. I knew that I had wanted to partake in learning more about another culture while pursuing my degree in elementary education, and the Australia program would allow me to do both. I chose the Australia program for a number of reasons. Besides my love for the land down under and the unmistakable "Aussie accent", I chose to study in Australia because it fit really well with my major. I was able to choose from a variety of classes that would fit well with my common curriculum so that I could still graduate on time in my senior year. Australia has many unique opportunities as well for learning about the Aboriginal culture of Australia, as well as the opportunity for job shadowing experiences.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
When we went north for our one week excursion into the Outback, we had the opportunity to meet with a few local Aboriginal people. I do not want to give away all the secrets from that trip, but it taught me a lot about appreciating and respecting the natural beauty of the environment that surrounds me. I learned a lot about respect for persons and their history in our world. When our group was gathered around the campfire listening to the sounds of nature, I started to truly understand the importance of appreciating my home away from home -- Australia.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Life changing. My study abroad experience taught me a lot about self-discovery and the need to reflect on one's own life in order to grow as a person. Each day was a new experience where we were forced to look at how the Australian way of life differed from our own. The Australia study abroad program allowed me to attend school, become involved with an Australian sport, as well as work a job for a short time. Whether we were heading north into the Outback, hanging out at a local beach, participating in a class tutorial, or simply buying groceries at the local market, we were always being challenged to learn. The land known for surf and sun taught me so much more than how to swim in water. I became more comfortable with the skin I am in, and through that have become a more confident and educated person. Australia's geographical location created a serene and refreshing atmosphere for my semester abroad, and I hope to revisit that amazing place soon!
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?
The most beneficial thing about studying abroad for me was that I realized I could do it. Saint Ben's had provided me with the necessary tools to be able to live in a foreign country for 4 1/2 months without wanting to come home early. I am now a more confident person that is more willing to put myself out there and take intelligent risks. I had the opportunity to volunteer in a classroom while abroad, and that taught me so much about pursuing my goals to learn. Academically, I challenged myself to perform to the best of my ability, and was able to receive high marks of distinction. Being abroad challenged me to step outside my comfort zone. However, I truly believe that I would not be as prepared, reassured, or flexible person if I had not chosen to study abroad.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Just do it! No matter which program you choose to partake in, you will not be disappointed. Truly examine your financial situation, and think about the lasting impact that time abroad will have on your life. It is a truly remarkable and unique experience. I work with Alumnae relations at Saint Ben's, and the number one regret of CSB alumnae is having chosen not to study abroad. They all say, if they could do it over, they would have studied abroad. No matter your experience while abroad, it will teach you so much about yourself!