Olivia Rodriguez is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greco-Roman
Major: Social Science
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
My parents both studied abroad and they basically made it a requirement for me to do the same thing, to which I had absolutely zero objections. As a social science major and secondary education minor I find it necessary to learn outside the classroom and get out of an individual's comfort zone. I decided on the Greco-Roman program because, basically, why not? It jumped out at me from the very beginning as two experiences in one and a very unique opportunity. As a future social studies teacher with no experience with ancient history, I thought this would be a perfect place to get these credits in while experiencing the arenas in which they occurred.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Our director had us do a "scavenger hunt" around Athens our first week of our program. He had random (to us at the time) landmarks around the city and made us find them and take pictures by them. They ranged from "Acropolis" to "skeleton in the subway station". It was probably my third day in Greece and I had no idea where I was going. It was 95 degrees, I knew zero words of Greek, and didn't even know what I was looking for. Getting lost with a 2 girls I barely knew and finding our way home was an excellent introduction to our program, though frustrating at the time!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall experience was absolutely indescribable, however a few things jump out at me. I grew so much as a person through independence, risk taking, and being able to go with the flow. I got so much more confident being outside of the English speaking world and in a place that was very uncomfortable. Making 29 new friends was easily a highlight of my experience--traveling with people in a new place definitely bonds you!
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?
One of the largest benefits of spending a semester abroad is the once in a lifetime experience a person has. At such a young age and with so much energy, this is the perfect time to do so. It has influenced me in my personal life by making so many new friends and getting to share my fantastic experiences with them. The people really make the trip. My academics were 100% different than my CSB/SJU classes with professors from all over the world and having class in the classroom maybe only 50% of the time got me to learn much more. I grew professionally by learning the material I will be teaching my future students in the setting in which it happened.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it. Studying abroad in college is one of the things you only really have the opportunity to do once. It's a special, and often life changing experience that I have never heard anyone say they regret. Choose your program wisely, and be ready to go outside your comfort zone.