Andee is an Ambassador who studied abroad in India
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Whether or not I wanted to study abroad was never a question for me, the question was always where. I was originally planning on applying for another program, a location somewhere in Europe, but when filling out the application, I knew that I wasn't feeling the excitement and nervousness that I should have been feeling. When talking to my Academic Adviser about this, she mentioned India, and I knew that was where I needed to study. I wanted to live in a country that was unknown, alien, and shocking, and India definitely delivered.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
We had the opportunity to meet the children of a little village, Pingla, in rural India. As most children do, they showed us quick and effortless love. Upon arriving, I sat down next to two young girls and started painting. They would bashfully look up at me every once in a while, but whenever I made eye contact they would quickly look away. After a few minutes, I began asking the few questions I knew in Bengla and learned that they were sisters, one six and the other ten. That was all it took. All I had to do was put in the smallest effort and they gave me everything they had. They helped me with my painting, shamelessly grabbed my hand, guided me around their village, gave me their artwork, and taught me hand games. Though our communication was vastly limited, that didn't seem to matter. Once it was time for us to leave, they gave the biggest hugs, some fought back tears, and others said, "I love you" as we drove away.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad in India was easily the most challenging thing I've ever done, yet I wouldn't trade it for the world. I was stretched farther than I ever imagined possible and shoved far outside of my comfort zone, but through these challenges I learned an incredible amount about the world, the human condition, and myself.
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?
Spending a semester abroad affects your life in ways you can't begin to imagine. Since returning from India, I have noticed that I am more confident and more assertive than ever before. My time in India inspired me to follow my passion for others and has led me down a new career path in the non-profit sector.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
It is so important to put in the time to research each program and find the one that is best for you. With that said, studying abroad is such a unique and incredible opportunity that shouldn't be passed up!