Sarah is an Ambasador who studied abroad in Chile
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad in college. Coming into CSB/SJU I decided going to a Spanish speaking country would be best to improve my language skills. Two summers ago when I worked on the CSB campus, a group of Chilean students came for a study abroad experience and I was able to meet them. After spending time together, I knew Chile was the program for me. Over the course of my sophomore year I learned as much as I could about the country and continued the relationships I made with my Chilean friends.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
During my semester in Chile I volunteered at the orphanage Hogar Niño Amor. It is a one-year program for children who have parents in jail and have lived in unfit homes. My first day there it was overwhelming because there were three student helpers, including me, and fifteen kids. I looked down and there was this little girl named María Paz, who was not even two years old. She comes up to me with her hands raised wanting me to pick her up and my heart melted just thinking about what these kids have had to live through. It was at that moment, I realized that all these children need is love and affection. After that day I looked forward to going there every week to play with them.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall experience was incredible. I grew so much as a person. Throughout the months I continuously noticed changes in myself, developed a great sense of the world and confidence. Also, I learned how to become more independent, especially living in a Spanish speaking country. I lived with an amazing host family and made a lot of new friends in Chile. Studying abroad has easily been the greatest experience of my 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?
One of the biggest benefits of going abroad is being able to learn and immerge oneself in a new culture. It is also a great way to learn a new language. For me, my Spanish has improved immensely because I took in the Chilean culture. I also had the opportunity to take a class with all Chilean students, which forced me to use my Spanish to communicate with my professor and fellow students. All of my courses were also in Spanish so I constantly had to use my language skills everyday. I also feel like studying abroad looks good on resumes, which will help when looking for future careers.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
First, if they have just a thought that they might want to study abroad I would tell them to apply. Next, the applicant would have to see how it fits into their four-year plan. It does not hurt to apply; there are more positives than negatives. Studying abroad has been the best experience and it is life changing.