Molly is an Ambassador who studied abroad in South Africa
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I wanted to study abroad because it would allow me to live in another country, be immersed in another culture, and learn how people from another area of the world live.
I decided on South Africa because of the volunteer aspect. I knew volunteering would give me an entirely unique view of problems experienced in another country. I also knew it would give me great opportunity to get to know the locals.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I volunteered at a community center called Missionvale in one of the most impoverished townships in South Africa. During my time at Missionvale I was able to walk around township and visit with people in their homes. I was such an eye-opening experience for me. It was the first time I had seen such extreme and expansive poverty. Despite all the poverty and illness, I will never forget how friendly and welcoming everyone was in the township. They had very little but made the best of what they did have. The people I met abroad really inspired me to be grateful for what I have and to always approach life with optimism.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was amazing. I came home with a fresh perspective on life and memories that I will cherish and talk about for the rest of my life. I went to South Africa will 31 strangers and came back with a family. It is an experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I learned as much about myself on the trip as I did about the country and its people.
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?
South Africa has given me a whole new perspective on the importance of diversity that is always stressed in class. I now fully understand and appreciate how culture shapes people. In South Africa, I experienced what it was like to be the minority for the first time in my life. I feel like I learned a lot about working with people and many of my experiences are really relevant during class discussions.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Always keep an open-mind and try as many new things as possible. Meet as many South Africans as possible. You really can learn so much from just talking and hanging out with the locals. Try not to stress out about the little things while you are there. Take everything in while you can because it will be over before you know it!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in South Africa? Email Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org