Natalie is an Ambassador who studied abroad on the Roman-Greco program
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
There were many reasons why I wanted to study abroad. The most important one was that I believed (and still do believe) is that CSB/SJU provide its students with the outmost incredible study abroad programs. I felt confident that studying abroad would open my awareness about other cultures and I would learn how to navigate and live in another country. I chose the Roman-Greco program because I have always been interested in Mediterranean history and life and it was a great opportunity to be able to experience and live in two different countries with two different, yet incredible cultures.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience I had was my first visit to the Vatican in Rome, Italy. While standing outside the 500 year old Basilica, I was absolutely stunned and awed of its grandeur and beauty. The first time I went to the Vatican was during an evening prayer service given by Pope Francis. I was standing in a crowd with my Roman-Greco group along with roughly 50,000 other people in St. Peter's Square. I'll never forget the feeling of true amazement while standing in the crowd, watching the sunset over the basilica, and hearing the Pope give a beautiful prayer service on the front steps of the basilica.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience in Rome and Athens was simply pure amazement. I built strong relationships and created a family out of 29 other Bennies and Johnnies. The memories made with my group, professors, and locals have influenced and made me a better person. I was able to travel and explore seven countries while abroad and I've grown intellectually, spiritually, and mentally along the journey. I wouldn't give up an opportunity or experience like this for the world!
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?
Some of the personal benefits of spending a semester aboard in Rome and Athens were that I learned a lot about my capabilities and myself. I learned to become more independent and use good judgment when making decisions. Also, it was very comforting knowing that my group was always very friendly and caring. Academically, I was very interested and influenced by the incredible history and national pride in Italy and Greece. Professionally, I want to explore more career options that allow me to travel and experience more cultures worldwide. After living in both Rome and Athens, I know I would like to spend time living abroad again and I enjoy the cultural differences and challenges it brings. After this experience, I can't wait to travel more in my future!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice to CSB/SJU students is to learn and cherish all the moments you have, both fun and challenging moments. You won't regret a single dime you spend while abroad because those experiences will last a lifetime. I cannot tell someone enough how amazing studying abroad is. Because of this experience, I feel so much more open minded and anxious to explore even more cultures in the world. Some of the best experiences I had abroad were just going out without a plan and exploring. Don't be afraid to get lost and enjoy the ambiguity and adventure of it!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Italy and Greece? Email Natalie at email@example.com