Elizabeth is an Ambassador who studied abroad in South Africa
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience a different country and culture. Having grown up in and attending college in central Minnesota, I really wanted to get outside my comfort zone and encounter new places and people. I've always loved to travel and honestly right now in your twenties is the best time to do this! I decided to study abroad in South Africa first because it's a country/continent I've never been to. And second because of its service-learning component. Service to others is life's highest calling and I wanted to continue to serve others while abroad. Additionally, service while abroad is a unique way to learn and experience a country's people and culture.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A cultural experience that has made a lasting impression upon me was service at Pendla primary school. This school is in the heart of the New Brighton township, and subsequently lacks adequate funding and resources. The most vivid memory that stands out in my mind was saying goodbye to two girls from my fifth grade classroom. Sisipho and Zizipho, who happen to be twins, approached me on our last day at Pendla and gave me a hand-made card that read: "We will miss you. Don't forget us. Remember us." I will remember Sisipho and Zizipho, and all of the teachers and students at Pendla for the rest of my life. Despite their poverty they still find happiness. It is this strength, fortitude and love for life that impacted my life in an unforgettable way.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I would describe it as an amazing experience. I experienced a new country, culture, and people. I made lasting friendships with my fellow study abroad participants, and South Africans. I thoroughly enjoyed and was strongly impacted by the service-learning component, and consequently will be teaching English abroad for a year following graduation.
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?
Some benefits from spending a semester abroad would be independence, and getting outside my comfort zone to experience a culture that is both similar and different than my own. It definitely furthered my desire to continue to travel and see more of the world. I also know now more than ever that service will always continue to be a part of my life.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Don't consider it. Do it. Study abroad is something you should definitely experience! Explore the city and country you're living in. Be open to new experiences. And you only study abroad once so have fun!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in South Africa? Email Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org