Garrett is an ambassador who studied abroad in Greece and Italy
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
It was always a goal of mine to get out of the Midwest at some point and study abroad provided the best opportunity. The Greco-Roman program just felt like the best fit for me. We were able to follow and study some of the greatest civilizations in history which is unbelievable. We started in Greece which is considered the cradle of Western civilization and gave us democracy, Olympic games, Western philosophy, and some important understanding of math and science. Then we moved to Italy which was a huge influence in matters of religion, architecture, law, and art.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One experience that had a lasting impression on me was my trip to Mt. Athos, Greece. The whole trip was a learning process and it tested me as a person. I almost got lost a handful of times but I eventually made it and met some truly amazing people along the way. I would highly recommend a trip to Mt. Athos for anyone that is considering it. The place is just magical.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Unbelievable. It's difficult to put my experience into words, but my study abroad trip was absolutely unbelievable. The things you see and do on the trip are simply amazing. You get to experience the food, culture, and art of different places which is crazy. Being able to see and experience the world from a different point of view is priceless. You'll change as a person. The people you study abroad with become a family of sorts, and I honestly believe they are friends for a lifetime.
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?
My study abroad experience really opened my eyes to the different ways of life. It gave me a lot of confidence as well. After living in foreign countries and traveling abroad, you feel like you can conquer anything. I've spent the majority of my life in the Midwest and this opportunity really changed my view of others. I was able to see how we as Americans are similar and different from people with other backgrounds. You see people who hug and kiss when they get together, eat at odd hours of the day, close stores whenever its convenient, and live life at a different pace. They view work as a means to an end and make family a priority above anything else. I was able to meet with an economist and do research on the Italian economy so I definitely learned a great deal from that and I was also able to see how businesses in Europe like Greece and Italy differ from businesses back in the United States.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do a little research and figure out what you want to do before you go abroad. It's much easier to do certain things when you have a game plan. Also don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It doesn't matter if you hate to dance, learn to dance with the locals. It doesn't matter if you hate octopus, try it. Try everything. My most unforgettable experiences came from moments where I jumped out of my comfort zone and did something absolutely crazy. So my best advice is to get out of your comfort zone, you'll regret it if you don't.