Sara is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I had heard great things from my aunts who participated in CSB/SJU study abroad programs as well as my sister. I knew that I wanted to take this opportunity to experience another part of the world while also being able to earn credits. I knew that this time in my life presented a great opportunity for me to be able to live in another country for 4 months and I did not want to pass that amazing opportunity up. I decided on the London program after much consideration. I began by looking at all of the programs offered and I knew that I wanted to study somewhere without a language barrier. After taking this into consideration, I looked into London and did a little research and found that it had exactly what I was looking for. The location was what I wanted as well as many aspects of the culture.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
During my time in London, I attended the Remembrance Sunday service that is about the equivalent to our Veterans Day. A group of us waited in the cold for 5 hours at the hopes of getting a good enough spot to see the Royal Family. Although we were able to see the Royal Family, the biggest impression for me was to see the country celebrating its veterans. There were many different men and women in all kinds of military uniforms. Songs significant to the history and culture of the nation were played and many people took the event very seriously. During the ceremony a moment of silence is held for 2 minutes. The city comes to a standstill and I was so surprised at how silent such a big city could really become. This particularly stands out to me to this day as a moment when I really felt like I was a part of the culture. I stood side by side with British citizens and I wore my red poppy like so many others were. The ceremony gave me a sense of the history of the nation and also a sense of unity.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience was better than I could have even imagined. It sincerely exceeded all expectations I had. It was full of adventure and exploration. Everyday presented a new opportunity for me to learn about the culture I was now living in. My study abroad time was also full of new and unfamiliar places and experiences but each one played an important role in my time abroad. The experience was also full of new friendships. I had been told before that the members on your trip would become your new friends but we truly did become a family as we explored a new culture together.
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?
The benefits of spending a semester abroad are numerous. Personally for me, the most important thing that spending a semester in a different culture taught me was how to truly be independent and self-sustaining. Moving to a new country for 4 months of your life and being taken out of your comfort zone teaches you such an important lesson on how to be independent and take care of yourself. The trip also made me far more self-confident. By the end of my time I was very comfortable commuting around such a big city and felt completely integrated into the culture. Also, it taught me so much about what I am capable of. By being in Europe, I also learned how to be more spontaneous and open minded about new things, most notably on my excursions outside of England as well. By being in a different culture I also gained a new global insight. It changed my mindset and has now caused me to be more interested and mindful of global issues. I am able to understand the differences in culture and better integrate myself to people who are culturally different. With this new insight, I have a drive to do more excursions abroad and experience even more cultures. Studying abroad also made me really appreciate every day and want to take full advantage of each new opportunity as I did in my time abroad.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The best advice I can offer to you is to look into each and every study abroad program. Have a list of things that you personally want to get out of your program (whether that be bettering your language proficiency or perhaps having an internship abroad) and then narrow it down from there. Once you have your program chosen, really research the culture you hope to be living in. Read news headlines and learn a little history because this will help you so much when you arrive. Most importantly have an open mind and take advantage of every opportunity while you are abroad because its an experience you will never forget.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in London? Email Sara at S1buermann@csbsju.edu