Kyle is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Guatemala
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Study Abroad was one of the main reasons I chose to attend Saint John's- I traveled through Italy for a few weeks in high school and from that day I was bit by the "travel bug." As for why I chose the Guatemala program specifically, it's regarded as the best program for obtaining Spanish proficiency and I felt like I could better learn the language in full immersion.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
My homestay family was a highly influential point of my time in Guatemala. We would watch "telenovelas" together and joke about what was happening in the neighborhood, and they made a point to get to know me and speak with me regularly. We still keep in contact even after our group has returned to the US via e-mail and Skype.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
One thing I believe most of us agree on was that it was a big leap of faith. I struggled a bit at first, both with the language acquisition and homesickness. Seeing such a large difference in standards of living - not just between Guatemala and the United States, but different areas of the country - taught me to step outside of myself and appreciate the people that surround me.
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?
We did have weekly assignments with our group, as well as lots of non-research projects like various weekly volunteer projects and presentations. I gained more confidence in presenting work in both English and Spanish. This program also gave me endless opportunities to meet people not just from Latin American cultures, but travelers and students from around the world. Some of us were only able to communicate in Spanish, which strengthened my language skill even further.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
This is your time! Think seriously about what you want out of your semester, and don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone (especially since you're not alone in doing so)! If you love the outdoors, and want to improve your Spanish in a very friendly culture, then I highly recommend Guatemala!