Abigeal Roche is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Rome and Greece.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One night, for a class project, a friend and I interviewed "George the Wine Guy," a friendly Greek man who owned a wine shop right by our school. While our intention was simply to interview George for a half hour or so then leave, we ended up staying and chatting for almost three hours! We were able to hear a Greek local's perspective on the economy, government, and even the best times to go fishing in the summer. Throughout the trip, we had many opportunities to interact with Italian and Greek locals, but with this interaction, we formed a friendly relationship and were able to maintain it for the duration of our time in Greece.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
I wanted to study abroad because I thought it would be an incredible opportunity and a great way to add to my college experience at CSB/SJU. I'd heard that you do a lot of growing and changing on study abroad programs, and that you return a more self-confident, independent, globally aware, and well-rounded individual. With this in mind, I chose to apply for the Roman-Greco program. Unlike other programs, this program gives you the chance to live in two very different countries, gain exposure to two distinct languages and cultures, and learn in two historical countries that created the foundation for modern society. Plus, I've always wanted to travel to Italy and Greece and this program gave me the chance to not only visit these places, but to also live in each for almost two months.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It's not possible to put the experience into words, but to put it simply, going on the Roman-Greco program was the best decision I've made in my college career! There's no time in your life when you can live in, engage in and study in a foreign country (let alone two countries!). You learn an unfathomable amount through your many experiences and travels, and return with incredible memories and friends. Your time abroad is inspiring, invaluable, and will make you feel like the luckiest student in the world! It's an amazing opportunity for every student, and I strongly encourage everyone to apply for a semester abroad! I guarantee you won't regret it!
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
Spending four months abroad really affects you in the sense that it gives you an appreciation for everything you have back home. The ease and convenience of things you may have taken for granted prior to the trip will be the things you're most grateful for when you return home. Having completed the experience, and as predicted, I've become a more self-confident, independent, and globally aware individual. Living abroad presents you with challenges and obstacles that push you outside of your comfort zone and help you grow as a person. In four short months, you make a lifetime's worth of memories that will stay with you forever, and you truly will return a more well-rounded person with a strong desire to continue traveling. Plus, I've returned home with a close group of friends I hadn't even known prior to our departure. Getting a chance to spend this kind of time with an incredible group of Bennies and Johnnies is a wonderful experience in itself, but getting to do this in a foreign country is even better!
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way! Make the most of every minute, and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. While you're abroad, keep a blog or a journal to keep track of all the experiences you have, and be sure to take lots of pictures. Your semester abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, and will undoubtedly be the most amazing time of your life!