Mark Heinen

Mark is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I wanted an experience. I wanted to go somewhere completely different from what I was used to in order to have a truly once in a lifetime opportunity.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Meals, the style of eating in China is very different. The Chinese eat slower and family style. I was really able to relax and enjoy the food in this style in a new way. It became more of an event with my family/friends there. instead of eating a meal it became sharing a meal and to me the whole experience of food was a good one.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I had a wonderful time. I got to know awesome people from Saint John's, Saint Ben's and other students from around the world. I got to see so many things during my time in China that I would never had to opportunity to otherwise. Climbing the great wall, touring the Forbidden City and seeing the gorgeous mountain in Yunnan are some of the amazing things that I will never forget.

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 learned so much about myself. I cannot think of a better way to really learn what you know then to throw yourself into a completely new environment, with new people and a new culture. I was forced out of my comfort zone, I had to learn to adapt and how to live in this foreign place or I would hate a time that I wanted to be precious.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it. Wherever you go you will have an amazing time. having the right attitude, being excited and prepared for the change is important. Ultimately this is an experience that no one should miss. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOOSE? Go somewhere and experience a new life!improve? Travel and learn the public transportation - you will gain so much appreciation for your host country as well as for America.

Do you have any questions about studying abroad in China?  E-mail Mark at