Maria is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Roman-Greco
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity that our schools are fortunate enough to offer to so many students. I decided to study abroad because I knew that no matter where I went the school would provide me with an experience I would never forget in a whole new place. I chose the Roman-Greco program because I wanted to participate in a once in a lifetime experience that is individual to our college. Having the opportunity to spend half of my time in Rome and half in Athens is one that I would not be able to experience at any other college; it would be one or the other. I wanted to experience something out of my comfort zone in two amazing cities and cultures. Plus who doesn't watch movies from Italy and Greece and wish they could live there?
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Though it was difficult being away from our families on Thanksgiving we made the most of it in Athens with our "Roman-Greco Family". Each apartment, including our directors, took different jobs in making a Thanksgiving feast. That day we all dressed up and ate together at the school. Considering most of us had never cooked for Thanksgiving before our meal was really good. We all helped make the food and enjoyed our company together, having been so very thankful for the opportunity that we were having abroad. Since we couldn't watch football after eating we decided to play a game ourselves. After resting a bit from lunch we all went back to our apartments to change into football attire. We played a game of football in front of the old Olympic stadium in Athens on Thanksgiving until it was too dark to play anymore. While we were playing tourists kept coming to take pictures in front of the stadium and as we were there they started taking pictures of us as well. It was a holiday that we are all used to enjoying with our families back home but instead we had one of the best days of our trip together with our new family.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience was completely life changing. I went into this experience not knowing what to expect and came back four months later having the most amazing time ever. By only having 30 people to rely on for four months in a country where you don't speak the language bonds you really fast. And that is a bond that can not be broken.
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?
Studying abroad has only heightened my personal development and life. I went into this experience thinking I would miss my friends back home but came back with 30 more friends who I miss more now than I did my friends before. Spending so much time with this number of people connects you in a way that I never did with other friends. We got to know each other so fast and they helped me to grow and understand who I am better.
Studying abroad helped me to realize that though academics are one of the most important parts of college, the experience as a whole is just as important. There needs to be an equal balance between doing your work and experiencing college life because if you sit at home doing your school work all the time you will miss out on other parts of college.
As a psychology major I look at people and how they behave. This experience has taught me how to see other cultures and how to acknowledge them first hand. I would love to further my professional development by spending more time studying the behaviors of others in different cultures.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
As hard as it is don't pack too much! Bring practical clothes and most importantly practical shoes. You walk a lot when you study abroad so its important to have shoes that aren't going to ruin your feet, but they can also be cute. Bring a good camera and take lots of pictures because this is an experience that you won't ever forget. The foreign food might be intimidating at the beginning but in the end you will miss it when you're gone. Finally, don't be afraid to try something new, after all that's what studying abroad is all about; experiencing new things, meeting new people, and changing who you thought you are.