Steven Pignato

Steven is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Environmental Studies


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have always wanted to experience a culture separate from mine own. I chose the Austria program not only because it fulfilled this requirement, but also because Austria is located more so in Central Europe, so it was a lot easier for me to travel to different cities or countries and experience what they had to offer. I also chose the Austria program because I wanted to improve my German language skills and it was the perfect place to do so.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The cultural experience I had that had the greatest impression on me happened when I fully realized that I was the minority in a very large culture. This left such a large impression on me because I have always come from a culture in which I was the majority, the American citizen. And when I was placed into the position of the international student, I saw what it must be like for other minorities in different cultures, and from this experience I learned that to become more tolerant towards others, because I understand what it can be like to be a minority in a situation and how that can affect someone's personality.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It is very hard to describe my study abroad experience. It is very difficult for me to find anything negative against this program and my experience. It felt like everyday was a new adventure and I was able to learn something new every single day. I enjoyed every moment while I was abroad in Austria. I will admit that yes there were a few hard times, but looking back on them, I am very glad that I was able to experience these hard times because those times have made me more of the person who I am today.

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 larger benefits of studying abroad in a foreign country is being able to break out of the cultural mold that everyone has grown up and has grown so accustomed to. By being able to live and submerse yourself in a different culture, you are able to see how people in a different society function and how their culture and traditions mold the them for who they are.
A second benefit of studying abroad is that, with experiencing a different culture, you also learn how to live and adjust within this culture. Instead of walling yourself off into your own room everyday, you decide to go out into the city or meet up with new international friends and experience not only the people, but also how to interact and function within that society yourself.
Personally, studying abroad has contributed to all of the areas mentioned in the question above. Personally, I feel that I have been able to grow to understand how to adapt and immerse myself in a different culture. Also I feel that I have been able to significantly mature since I have studied abroad, which had also helped me grow in my academic and professional development.
Academically, I feel that I have been able to better understand what it takes to be academically successful, and the benefits of being academically successful as well.
Professionally speaking I feel that I have been able to become more aware and tuned into what I need to do as a person in order to begin a professional career.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The best advice I can give is to first of all do not hesitate to do it. Studying abroad has been the best experience of my life so far, and it would be a waste of an opportunity for someone to not take the opportunity to study abroad.
Other advice I would give would be just to be open minded every day while you are abroad. You never know what you may run into while you are abroad, but if you have the right mindset, you will be able to deal with it a lot better than if you were not open minded.

Do you have any questions about studying abroad in Austria? Email Steven at