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Abigail Gonzalez

Abigail is an ambassador who studied abroad in Italy and Greece
Major: Classical Studies/ Psychology

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

Having the opportunity to study abroad in two of the most historical places is one of the most exciting experiences I have looked forward to for various years. As a Classical Studies major, I have read and studied Rome and Athens ancient history in great depth. Being able to physically be in the same location as Socrates and Thucydides, who I have read countless of time, is overwhelming. I will be able to physically see and witness the countless of locations and artifacts that I have studied. I hope to get a better since of how these two great cities became so influential not only in ancient time but in our time. I also hope to learn and get involved in the two new cultures I will experience.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

The majority of the classes where held on-site either in a museum, ancients ruin, catacombs, religious locations, or just walking around the city. One of these trips in Greece was to the Acropolis. Once I starting walking up the hill leading to the Acropolis and up the step, it hit me that I was finally in Greece. Having studied their ancient culture, literature, and philosophy this was one of the most important places in their history, and I couldn't believe I was standing in the same place Socrates and Plato once stood. I looked around and the locals didn't understand the emotions of excitement that I felt, but then I understood that this was just another location that was part of their city and they were used to it. Yet, I still couldn't and still can't stop feeling the delight, as I think back, of standing in a place hundreds of years old.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

When I chose to go into this program, I was prepared to live everything behind for four months and just concentrate on what was going to come as I arrived in Rome. There were moments they had its ups and downs but with this constant change, I learned that I was more resilient that before. There was a want and need for organizations and planning but you learn right away that it will not always go as planned. I learned to accept the unexpected. I would plan to arrive somewhere at 3:00, but the busses where rarely on time, but I loved every minute of it. I learned to just go with what is happening around you and you will survive this four month journey easily and with a new outlook on life.

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?
You are given the opportunity to not only learn about yourself but also broaden your perceptions of your culture, language, family, and so much more. You are thrust upon not one but two cultures that give you the opportunity to learn what the world is really like outside of your comfort zone. This trip has taught me that I am stronger and more open than I thought, as I took the step to leave my family behind not just in a different state but a different country. It also gave me a better view and renewed my desire to learn about these ancient cities. It gave me the opportunity to see what I would have missed from ready and studying just in a classroom.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

This is an opportunity not just to visit a country but to get to know the country on a more personal level. Living, breathing, eating, and walking amongst the locals gives you the chance not to be just a tourists but to become a local. You are able to build relationships with those around you, such as the baristas from the coffee shop you go to every morning or maybe the gelato store around the corner. You develop a since of belonging and comfort with something you never thought you would. This is something you will never get with just visiting a country but developing a relationship with it. Think of what place you feel will give you this feeling, with the addition of your studies. It does not matter that you may not know many or any people in the program. You will develop close and unique relationships with your fellow Bennies and Johnnies because they will know, feel, and experience that same things as you during the duration of the program.