Emma 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 chose to study abroad for a variety of reasons. I wanted to meet new people and to make lasting relationships. I also wanted to experience being immersed into entirely different cultures while exploring who I am in an unfamiliar setting. Studying abroad provided me with opportunities to travel the world, specifically Europe, which was a major attraction for me. I chose the Roman-Greco program because it allowed me to live in and experience two different cities within Europe with an amazing group of Bennies and Johnnies!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Throughout the duration of my program, I had numerous cultural experiences that made lasting impressions on me. However, one in particular stands out in my mind. While in Greece, my group and I experienced a bit of a language barrier. However, that did not stop us from connecting with locals. One night, eight of us were walking home from class when we passed by a local shop. We decided to stop in and were surprised by the amount of hospitality we received. The owner, an older man named George, invited us to sit down. He offerred us wine and food, and made us feel welcome. After meeting George, I had a new perspective of the city of Athens and it's people. I felt accepted and welcome, and that experience made me feel like a local rather than an outsider. I now understand the importance of hospitality, and connecting with people from different cultures allowed me to see the world through a different lens.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad is hands down the best thing I ever did. I learned an immense amount about myself, made life-long friends, traveled to thirteen different countries within four months, and made memories that I will forever cherish. My overall study abroad experience was better than I ever could have imagined.
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?
For me, there were so many benefits of spending a semester abroad. I met new people, experienced new cultures, saw new places, and made new friends. I definitely have a new outlook on the world and on life. I can absolutely say that studying abroad has contributed to my personal, academic, and professional development. I am now more independent and I feel like I now know myself a lot better. Academically, I was exposed to the educational systems of both Greece and Italy, I learned through experience rather than traditional lecture, and I was able to apply what I was learning to the cultures around me. Professionally, I feel as though I am much more qualified for my future career because I now have a different understanding of how the world works. Overall, my experiences abroad have benefitted me in ways that I never anticipated.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would advise students who are considering or planning to study abroad to take risks, to select programs that will fit their lifestyles, to spend the money to go (in the end it is so, so worth it), and to allow themselves to step outside of their comfort zones. Studying abroad is something that I will never regret, for it was easily the best and most life-changing four and a half months of my life so far. Therefore, if I were asked to advise students who are thinking about studying abraod, I would be very adamant in telling them to apply and take from the experience all that they can!