Sarah 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 culture that was different from my own, and to explore the world beyond central Minnesota. I chose to spend my semester in South Africa because of the classes, service opportunities, and location of the program. It felt like a place that I would never get the opportunity to travel again.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of my favorite experiences was traveling to Coffee Bay. A group of Bennies rented cars to spend a weekend away from Port Elizabeth. Nearing our destination, we hit a poorly paved road, where we were dodging people, cars, cows, and potholes for about an hour, while the sun was setting behind us over the rolling hills. Despite a few "bumps in the road," we made it to our hostel in time for dinner, with a sigh of relief and new navigational skills.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Choosing to study abroad is one of the best decisions I have made in my years at CSB. Spending four months in South Africa provided me with many new friendships that probably would have never formed. I learned so much about myself and a diverse group of people in such a short time. I gained a much greater appreciation for the blessings I have in my life and a new confidence in handling challenging situations. I would highly recommend traveling whenever the opportunity arises!
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 allowed me to grow as an individual in ways that I could not have done here at home. I was faced with various challenges while abroad that enabled me to problem solve and work through situations with our group. I learned to balance academics with the other fun experiences that study abroad has to offer. The collaborative and community development skills that I learned abroad will transfer into my life now and in the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Get to know the local people of the location that you study abroad. Try to become involved in something outside of your group that will allow you to interact with people from the country. Be curious, ask questions. This is the best way to learn about your "home" for four months.
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