Kathryn is an ambassador who studied abroad in London in the Fall
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
One of the reasons I chose to come to St. Ben's was for the awesome study abroad programs. I knew right away that I wanted to travel somewhere, and over the course of freshman and sophomore year I explored the options, changing my mind every couple of months about where I wanted to go. I'm the type of person that loves getting out and trying new things and study abroad was a great way to feed my need for adventure. I wanted to have a better perspective on my life here by going out and experiencing how other parts of the world see life differently. Ultimately I chose London in the fall because it fit the best into my schedule, I am a psych and comm double major so I don't have much flexibility to take other classes. London provided me with the perfect opportunity to take classes related to my major, get a great cultural experience, and have easy access to traveling in Europe. This program gives students of any major an opportunity to study abroad and stay on track to graduate in 4 years.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A specific cultural experience I had happened when I was traveling through Scotland. I spent a weekend on a tour bus with 30 other people from all over the world exploring the highlands of Scotland. Our tour guide was exactly what you would picture a scotsman to look like, large beard and an accent better than Sean Connery's. He taught us all about the history of Scotland, and why Scotland is at odds with England. I got to chat with people from all over the world over a dish of haggis, the national food of Scotland, and I found the cafe where J.K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter. I was astounded by the differences between the Scots I met, and the people from London. Although it's part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has a different culture, history, and national identity. I loved being able to compare it to the London culture I had been experiencing in the weeks prior.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I would say that my study abroad time and internship time was a once in a lifetime experience. I was able to do things that I have only dreamed about. I could wander around Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, and under the London eye for hours. I spent many nights having a pint or two in famous London pubs, I strolled through Hyde Park and admired Kate and Williams home, I had the best fish and chips ever, I got lost in the venders of street markets, and spent tons of time reading the newspaper on the tube. Not only was I lucky enough to do things in London but I also traveled all over Europe. I threw a penny in Trevi Fountain, I looked up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I took a canal ride in Belgium, relaxed in the sun in a beer garden in Munich, kissed the Blarney Stone, climbed the top of a mountain in Salzburg, and made some awesome friends. This is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything, I realize how lucky I am to be able to have done the traveling I did and I'm so grateful for it.
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?
While studying abroad isn't always easy, there were a ton of benefits for me personally, academically, and professionally. Personally I am now far more confident in my independence and being able to take care of myself. I have the confidence to book a plane ticket, be able to fly to a different country, and have an awesome time in a place completely unfamiliar to me. Academically it was a challenging semester. It wasn't a walk in the park all the time on study abroad, but the classes I took helped me have a better understanding of the people and culture that I was living in. Professionally I grew as well, through my internship at Solace Women's Aid, consulting with women who had been domestically abused. I learned how to adapt to a different work culture and how to communicate with people from tons of different ethnic backgrounds. I know that everything I learned has changed me for the better and gave me skills for my career in the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The advice I would offer students considering study abroad would be to take advantage of every opportunity you have. Cancel your netflix account, limit your social media time, get out of your comfort zone, and have as many experiences that you can that you will remember 10 years down the road. Even now I don't remember the nights I spent watching a movie in my room, I remember the times that I hopped on the tube, got off at a random stop, and sat in a pub having a couple pints with some friends.