Annie Hansen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in France.
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Choosing the program was probably the easiest step for me. I wanted a French-speaking program and this was the only that CSB/SJU offered. I did look at a couple external programs, but they couldn't compare with the financial aid and the ease of transferring courses back. The school definitely made it incredibly easy to study abroad.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tutor for a French family in Cannes. The program director mentioned that it could be a possibility, so I immediately expressed interest. When an administrator at the Collège was emailed with an opportunity, I was contacted first. Once a week I would walk/take the bus to their house and help two of the daughters with their English homework and speaking skills. It was wonderful to be able to have that sort of regular contact with a French family.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I visited five different countries and had some of the greatest experiences of my life: tutoring for a French family, kissing the crown of thorns at Notre Dame, sampling a local brew in Germany, attending mass at Saint Peter's in Rome, among countless others. I was able to greatly progress in my French speaking and comprehension ability; by the time I left, I was also able to understand with ease nearly all French people that I interacted with. Finally, I'm so thankful that I made friends with both American and international students with whom I still keep in contact.
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?
Of course it is an excellent experience to be able to put on a résumé, but lucky for me, I also get to write that I speak French. Being able to speak an extra language in today's world is a wonderful perk when applying to any business you would go into.
I have also noticed a personal change in perspective when talking/thinking about any subject. I visited multiple countries and things are done differently in all of them. I have come back with an odd melange of ideas a perspectives from different regions. It is interesting to be able to compare these opinions to those found most commonly in the United States.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Take advantage of all the opportunities offered. If someone is taking a trip, join them, if your program director even suggests something that you could possibly be interested in, sign up or express interest. There will be times when you are tired or are tempted to stay in for the weekend, but take advantage of all your time there, because who knows when you will get a chance to return.