Kathleen de St. Aubin
Kathleen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to immerse myself into the Spanish culture and achieve fluency with a language I'd been studying since elementary school. The deciding factors on Spain for me were the host families and the historic city I would be living in. I looked at pictures of Segovia, immediately fell in love and knew I wanted to study abroad there.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I was a regular at the bar near my apartment in Segovia. I became friends with the owners and the employees who worked there. They gave me my own booth, named one of their fish after me and provided me with countless free coffees, drinks and tapas! We became great friends, and I befriended all of the other "regulars" as well. I learned so much from my Spanish friends here; I talked with them and I was able to practice my Spanish every day while conversing. I met many people at this bar; that I would be greeted on the street by them! Upon my departure they gave me a gift and begged me to come back as soon as I could, we still keep in touch and I am happy I was able to meet them.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Rewarding! That would be the word I would choose to describe my 4 months abroad. I wanted to gain more confidence with Spanish and I definitely achieved that and more. My host family was very supportive, loving and treated me like their own daughter. Everyone I had the opportunity to meet in Segovia was amazing and helped me improve my Spanish and gain confidence in speaking.
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?
Spending a semester abroad helped me develop a stronger sense of myself and gave me more confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities. I was immersed in a new culture and that allowed me to gain independence, and it forced me to speak the language. Being on my own in a country where they didn't speak English was the push I needed and I am very happy with the results.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
DO IT. Traveling to foreign countries and experiencing other cultures is such an empowering opportunity, it makes you reflect upon yourself. You will meet new people, see new places and have an unforgettable experience, how can you possibly say no to that? "Traveling is the only thing you will buy that makes you richer." This quote sums up studying abroad - you will spend money but it goes so much further than just swiping your card. The experience gained is one of a kind and you will talk about it for the rest of your life.