Sydney Klinker 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 always knew I wanted to study abroad in order to experience another culture. I'm from a small town in MN and go to school in a small town in MN, and I just wanted to see more of the world and build in myself a love for travel. I choose South Africa because it not only allowed me to travel to a totally new culture in an area I would probably never visit otherwise, but also allowed me the opportunity to do service learning and really get to experience poverty in another country.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While volunteering at AIDS Haven: House of Resurrection (aka House), I was peeling carrots in the kitchen with some of the staff women. I peeled a carrot and cut off the end and top brown part. One woman asked me why I was throwing food away. I told her we always cut of the icky ends at home. She explained to me that food was precious and with 36 children to feed and a very limited budget House cannot afford to waste any part of a food that is edible, even the badly peeled brown ends of carrots. This encounter really made me think about how precious food is and how wasteful I sometimes am. Since I have really started watching how much food I make for myself or take at the cafeteria so that nothing will be thrown away. I've realized that throwing perfectly good food into the trash when there are some who need every scrap just to get by is unacceptable.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
BEST 4 MONTHS OF MY LIFE. I could talk forever about how great my experience was and what an amazing place South Africa is. I meet some amazing people, feel totally in love with an adorable 1 year old boy named Sherwin, ran along the ocean every morning, saw a way of life that completely changed my perspective of the world, and jumped off world's highest bungee bridge. South Africa was fun, educational, and mostly meaningful.
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 made me really realize that the world is not about me or even about CSBSJU. There are people in the world that I can really make a difference for by doing simple things such as conserving water, and there people made a huge difference in me as well. After studying abroad I feel more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone, which I believe will benefit both my personal and professional life.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, 110% STUDY ABROAD! It's the experience of a lifetime. Put your worries aside and just open your heart to the experience. It'll be the best decision you ever made.