Zachary is an Ambassador who studied abroad in India
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
India was actually my second study abroad having studied abroad in China the Fall after my first year at CSB|SJU. I never planned on studying abroad twice until the weekend before the study abroad application was due. The Friday afternoon before it was due, I sat down with an advisor of mine, Joe Rogers, and he asked me if I was interested in studying abroad again because it was something that would fit in my schedule. Of course I said yes and he recommended I look into the Japan program. Though I really wanted to go on that program, I felt that going to Japan would not push me out of my comfort zone. Being that I was an Asian studies major and learned so much about Japan and the rest of East- Asia, I thought I should learn more about southern Asia and apply for the India program. By the end of the weekend I had everything turned in and filled out a very well written application then just sat back with my fingers crossed.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
When I said I wanted to go on a program to really push me out of my comfort zone, I really did mean it and boy did I get just that. India isn't for the faint of heart. It was really hard some days to even just get myself out of the apartment. I'm not trying to make the India program look scary, but I also don't want to sugar coat it. That being said, the thing that made the longest lasting impression would have to be my friends at St. Xavier's College (SXC). If it weren't for their support and their friendliness, the semester would have been a lot more difficult. My friends at SXC were amazing. Because of them I was able to experience more of the culture and explore more of the city than I would have even imagined doing with my study abroad group. This question asks for a cultural experience though I feel that it is more important to mention this because without these people, I wouldn't have many of the cultural experiences I had.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Looking back at India, sharing the pictures and stories with friends and those interested in traveling there has really made me miss the contradiction that is India. I had many fun times, was able to see a lot of the country, try lots of food, and learn a new language. These were all things I was hoping to experience while studying abroad in India. Every day was a new learning experience in India; some of those learning experiences contradicted those from the day previous. It is important to know that you are not the in the USA, you are a foreigner abroad and you stick out like a sore thumb no matter what you know or say or even how you dress. India was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back there in the future and live the experiences all over again both good and bad. Just remember this about study abroad. Going abroad in general is probably the greatest thing you could ever do. You really learn more about yourself and your country and you are better able to understand the way others think.
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?
Study abroad really helps you to understand who you are and where you want to go in life. It makes you go that extra mile (or 8,000 in this case) to keep going when you are ready to just break down. You develop as a person more than you could even imagine. Five months may seem like a long time but trust me, it isn't. Studying abroad isn't only good for you as a person but it also looks amazing in the eyes of employers. While in India, me and three others from my study abroad group researched and proposed a vocational facility and they will break ground hopefully later this year. Because of us four, people who attend the vocational facility can live better lives and better take care of their families. I have experiences that most will never have which, gives me a huge advantage in my future.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
While abroad, don't let opportunities pass up because my might regret it. There are so many things you can try and you may think you will be able to try it later but a lot of times you won't be able to. Try food that doesn't look tasty, try a mode of transportation that you don't have back home, talk to people you normally wouldn't be able to. It goes by faster than you can imagine. Before you know it you are looking at your computer screen applying to be a study abroad ambassador so you can share your experiences with those who what to make their own. Don't waste a single minute while abroad. If you feel tired, push yourself to go out with your Bengali friends for dinner. Do anything and everything but be safe. You will have no regrets if you do this