Katelin is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
The main reason I chose to study abroad was to fully submerge myself into another culture, particularly a Spanish speaking culture. One of my majors is Hispanic Studies and I absolutely love Spanish so I knew that studying abroad in Spain would be an amazing experience for me. I also wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I knew 4 months would be a long time to be out of the country but it's a great opportunity at this point in my life to stretch myself and grow as an individual.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Going into the trip knowing very little about the host family I was going to be living with was a very scary idea to me. However, it ended up being the best experience of my life. My host family was the best part of my entire trip. They taught me so much not just about Spanish but also about life in general. They were always very encouraging and patient. They forced me to grow as an individual and I know the relationship I have with each of them will last a life time.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was better than I ever could imagine. I had the mind set going into it that it was going to be one of the best experiences of my life and sure enough it went above and beyond. During my experience I grew tremendously as a person. My self-confidence, abilities to communicate in Spanish, my strength and level of comfort in new situations...all of it sky-rocketed!! If I could do the whole experience over, I would in a heartbeat. Even the whole getting homesick part; I would go through it again just to have the same 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?
One obvious benefit of spending a semester abroad is the chance to see parts of the world you may never have the chance to go again. Especially for the length of time that is spent there. Not many people get the opportunity to be in another culture and country for that long of a time. It gives you the opportunity to become a part of a culture as opposed to a short term trip that doesn't allow as much time to get accustomed. Studying abroad has contributed to my personal, academic and professional development by showing me that I am capable of living, communicating and accomplishing many things I wasn't sure I could. My confidence in myself and my Spanish grew. I was able to read, write and communicate to everyone in the culture proving that my academic skills increased. Professionally, I have a new confidence in myself and knowledge of the culture and language which will give me an advantage in finding a job in a field where Spanish speaking is needed.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice to any CSB|SJU students considering/planning to study abroad is to take full advantage of the opportunity. It will change your life. You can get what you want out of the program based on how you use your time and the opportunities/privileges given to you. I would also say to students that no matter how worried or anxious you are about being gone for an extended period of time, that you can definitely do it. Don't miss out on the opportunity to study abroad just because you think it's too long to be away from home. If you even have the slightest desire to study abroad, do it. Don't hesitate.