Molly Cook is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
In Chile, the school system in universities is very different than it is here in the U.S. Less emphasis is put on grades and it's more lecture-based. No one lives on campus because there are no dorms. Instead, most students live at home or with other family or friends. This gave me a completely different view about education and it was something that I had to get used to. Now, I realize that school isn't all about the grade, it's about learning. And I definitely think it made me more flexible.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
I wanted to study abroad to learn about a different culture and improve my Spanish. Studying abroad is a unique experience that could not happen in the United States. I chose the Chile program because it's located in a gorgeous city on the coast, I wanted to attend a university with Chileans and get involved in their school, and I wanted to live with a host family to fully immerse myself in their culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad challenges you. You have to be away from your friends and family for four or more months. In Chile, you have to adapt to their customs and their language. You have to balance culture and school. Yet it is the most rewarding thing. You become stronger. You learn and experience things that CSB/SJU cannot offer. In my opinion, study abroad did not "change" me as other study abroad students might say. It made me become more me. It made me realize who I am and what I want. Study abroad gave me a clearer picture of myself.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I think I am more easy going and flexible because of study abroad. I view other people and cultures differently because this experience has opened my mind to other views and ways of life. I don't think this trip has made me very different or has extremely changed me. I think because of it, I am a stronger and more independent version of the pre-Chile me.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Let go of your friends and family. One semester seems like a long time but it really does go by fast. Once it's over, it's gone. So enjoy every day. Go explore or meet someone new. Take advantage of all that is around you.