Abby is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I am a Hispanic studies minor and wanted to study abroad in a country where I would really be forced to learn and utilize Spanish. I decided to go to Chile primarily because of it's uniqueness. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of opportunities in the future to travel or live in South America and everyone who goes to Chile describes it as a "hidden gem." The country is absolutely beautiful especially because it is so geographically diverse and the people are incredibly kind and welcoming. The study abroad ambassadors truly won me over with their excitement and passion when talking about how much they loved the country and their experience there and after looking into it more, I knew Chile was where I wanted to study abroad.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I had the opportunity to play on the basketball team for the university that we attend in Chile, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez and joining the team was by far the best decision I made down there. The girls on the basketball team were some of the most welcoming, kind and fun girls I have ever met and playing on the team made me feel like I was truly being immersed into the culture and community there. We practiced or had a game twice a week and would also spend time together outside of practice they became really good friends of mine. It was an incredible experience to play a sport for another country and the girls on the team and the coach were all incredibly patient and helpful with my Spanish and I was also able to help some of them with their English.
Describe your overall study abroad experience
My experience was better than I ever could have imagined. Not only did I meet amazing Chileans, but I became great friends with all the people in my group from CSBSJU and made so many lifelong friendships. I was able to experience a lot beautiful places throughout the country with amazing friends and I was truly immersed the Chilean culture. Not only did I learn an incredible amount of Spanish and all about the Chilean culture, but I gained life and relational skills that I could not have learned without this experience.
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?
Academically, my Spanish has improved drastically. I am a Hispanic Studies minor and I tried to see if I could switch it to a major while I was down there because I loved learning the language so much. I want to be a physician assistant and I now feel that I have a much better understanding of people from Latin America and will be able to provide them with better, more personal care. I learned so many things throughout my experience about myself that I never thought I would learn. Living with a host family and being in a foreign country with 30 people from CSBSJU really helped me to learn how to get along with anyone. My host mom and sister were my complete opposites and we had a great relationship. My whole group from CSBSJU became so close and I became amazing friends with people that I wouldn't have known or became friends with otherwise and I am so grateful for that.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Research the program and country a lot and talk to the ambassadors about it! The ambassadors told me about a lot of opportunities that I wouldn't have known about otherwise, like being able to play on the sports teams for the university there and volunteering at a hospital for children with severe disabilities. The ambassadors love talking about their country and experience so I encourage people to fully take advantage of that.