Danika is an Ambassador who studied abroad in South Africa
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad in South Africa because I was looking to expand my comfort zone. I knew that this country had a political history very different than the other abroad options that I was choosing from. I also knew that South Africa is new to democracy, and the idea of human rights was new to the majority of the country's population. This was exciting as I explored different abroad options because I wanted a program that would immerse me into a very different culture than my own, so I could begin to understand people and how their lives have come to be shaped the way that they have. I also liked the service learning component of this program, as it forces you to get to know local people on a deeper level than most tourists.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I was afforded the opportunity to home stay in a South African township, or a shack community, for a few nights. In my four months in the country, nothing more helped me to see the resilience of the black South African community than the Mamma that I stayed with. I was able to listen to her stories of how her life had been shaped by the Apartheid and how the current government is working to make a better life for her children, and her grandchildren.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
This program was not easy, but I LOVED my time in country, and it continues to shape every decision that I make now that I am home. The people that I met, the classes that I took, the professors who helped me see a better future, and the trips that I took all shape the person that I am, and the person that I aspire to be. This is a choice that will truly change your life!
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?
My time studying in South Africa has helped me see the world in a different light. I have been exposed to social issues that I would like to peruse on a professional level, and I don't believe that I would have found these passions if it were not for my time abroad. I have honed skills that I never knew possible, which I completely attribute to this trip.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I absolutely would recommend that every student spends time studying abroad, South Africa or otherwise. There are things that you learn about yourself and the world that a journal and a classroom just cannot give you. South Africa is particularly challenging, but equally rewarding. Soak in the differences, and embrace the similarities! Learn and experience all you can about this interesting world that we live in! And try to make it a better place while you're at it!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in South Africa? Email Danika at firstname.lastname@example.org