Ann is an ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to gain independence and to immerse myself in a foreign country's culture for an extended period. It was a tough decision, but I eventually opted to go to London for several reasons. I do not have a foreign language background, so going to a country where English was the primary language was ideal. I also wanted to go somewhere very urban unlike the campuses at CSB/SJU. In London I could easily travel around the city, country, or continent! Finally, I wanted to go somewhere that I already had a previous interest in, and I have always been fascinated by London.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Getting to know London etiquette was certainly an experience. Londoners are much more reserved with strangers compared to Minnesotans. There are no "hellos" as you pass someone on the sidewalk, and you'll never hear a stranger say "bless you" when you sneeze. It took some getting used to, but eventually I came to appreciate the respectful quiet on public transportation (especially when I was nose-to-nose with commuters on the Tube).
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was a thrilling roller coaster ride. I was initially very homesick and wondered what I had gotten myself into. As a bit of time went on I came to realize that concerning myself with home while I was abroad defeated the entire purpose of my experience. So I got out of my flat and just started going places, and suddenly I was having the time of my life. I gained a great deal of confidence while I was in London because I was truly independent. I got to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world and see so many astounding things in a completely different part of the world from what I call home. I wouldn't trade my study abroad experience for anything.
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?
I think that there are a lot of obvious benefits to studying abroad, such as being able to live in an entirely new place, but I think that the most dramatic benefits of studying abroad are related to personal growth. At the beginning of my own study abroad experience, I was intimidated by going out on my own to see parts of London and the UK. However, by the end of my trip, I was going to all kinds of places on my own within London and out into other areas of the UK and loving it! I learned how to succeed in a different academic setting from the United States, and also how to become self-motivating both inside and outside of the classroom.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Studying abroad is one of the greatest experiences you can have while at CSBSJU. It may seem absolutely terrifying, but it's all worth it once you're abroad. Planning what you'd like to do before you leave for your program will help a lot, and doing research on what country you're going to ahead of time will make you feel that much more comfortable when you arrive. It might seem like you have all the time in the world to see everything you want to when you get there, but it will be the end of the semester before you know it! But don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get to see or do everything you wanted to- just take a deep breath and have fun!