Julianna is an ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Major: Hispanic Studies (Secondary Ed. and TEIL minors)
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I always knew that I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel and live in a culture completely different than my own. I decided to go to Chile, because my high school Spanish teacher went there. Every year leading up to my very own trip to Chile, she would share and explain her experience in Chile with me. Not only did her experience inspire me to study in Chile, but I also wanted to improve my language skills in a country that I didn't know much about and Chile seemed (and was) the best option for me.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
My whole study abroad experience in its entirety was a great cultural experience. One of the most memorable experiences that I experienced was the week of Chile's Independence Day: Fiestas Patrias. This whole week was dedicated to celebrating Chile's independence - but when it actually began I realized that, for Chileans, it was all about spending time with family and friends. I learned that each family has their own traditions and I learned that traditional Chilean barbeques and carnivals are a huge part of it. I remember the actual Independence Day. I spent the whole day with my host family and got to be a part of their celebration. We had our usual morning routine, but soon went to the fairgrounds where there was a carnival filled with rides, games, and lots and lots of food. I learned the traditional Chilean dance, la cueca, ate traditional Chilean dishes and on this day, I got to know my family in a much more real way. This day was when I was most immersed in the Chilean culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Spending a whole semester in Chile has by far been one of my most memorable experiences. Spending time in a foreign country, out of my comfort zone, helped me to become the person I am today. Furthermore, living in the city of Vina del Mar helped me to become more self-sufficient and confident in my Spanish speaking abilities. I was able to communicate with locals and make my way around the city. I even created lasting relationships with my host family and friends in Chile. To this day I still communicate with them - and hope to return to Chile one day.
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?
The benefits to studying abroad are many and are unique for each person. By studying abroad in Chile, I was able to practice my Spanish and to feel more confident in speaking. By studying at the university in Vina, I experienced firsthand a different teaching style which helped to shape how I want to teach in my own classroom one day. Along with studying at the university, I also was able to volunteer in local schools and expand my teaching skills in that way. I got to work with all ages from first grade to seniors in high school. From these many unique opportunities, I not only learned more about myself, but also developed skills that will help me in the future, both professionally and personally.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I say that if you even have an inkling to study abroad, look into it. Feel free to ask questions of the faculty and ambassadors who are there to help, and know that there are many options for studying abroad. Also, if you are planning to study abroad, remember to make the most of your time abroad: have fun! Do what interests you or try something that you never imagined you would ever do. Traveling to another country is a great experience!