Alisia is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Major: Global Business Leadership
Minor: Hispanic Studies, and Pre-Law
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I decided to study abroad because it was my best option to get the most out of my Global Business Leadership major and Hispanic Studies minor. I wanted the full experience I could get here at CSB/SJU and since we are a leading college in sending students abroad, I decided to go. The Chile program was easy to choose because I wanted to go somewhere that seemed less explored than other places. Spain and Guatemala are beautiful places to see, but Chile offered so much more to me, personally. I thought this might be my only opportunity to travel all the way to South America. As I began to research more about South America the different geographies, the unusual accent, and the culture, I knew Chile was my only dream.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
My host family in general made a lasting impression on me during my time in Chile. I think a huge cultural milestone for me was when my host mom told me that my Spanish was getting really good. This made me tremendously proud of myself because the language barrier was by far the most challenging part of the trip. It was frustrating to not be able to communicate well at first, but after a couple weeks I started to get the hang of it and found myself feeling more confident. My host family’s ability to accept me into there family as not the Exchange Student living with them is what really made the trip. There was one time that I'll always remember when we decided to try and cook lunch together. Lunch is the most important meal of the day to Chileans and usually consists of two or three courses. My Chilean host mom, dad, and 2 grandma’s gave me the simple task of making the pebre (chilean salsa). Little did she know that I have nearly no experience in the kitchen. If I thought cooking in English was stressful, cooking in another language is ten times more stressful of a situation! In the end we had a good time bonding and she still gives me a hard time about not knowing how to make pebre.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was amazing. It was more than I could have ever dreamed it could be. The group I traveled with from CSB/SJU was perfect and we worked like a team. We made a bucket list with thing todo like ski in the Andes, climb a Volcano and made everything happen. I was fortunate enough to travel on weekends to places like the San Pedro de Atacama, Pucon, Olmue,Puerto Montt, Chiloe, Puerta Varas,Rio de Janiero and Machu Picchu. And was able to post travel to Patagonia, Buenos Aires and Iquazu Falls.I was treated like family by a Chilean host mom, dad, little brother, and Little sister who still stay in contact with me to this day. The list goes on and on with things I loved about my experience in Chile.
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?
I would say that there are many benefits to studying abroad. The first main one being that I was exposed to a different culture and way of life. This is a benefit because I learned how to be satisfied with what I was given and how to live a simple life. Being a part of another culture for four months also broadened my horizon and perspective. This is a benefit in all areas because in most situations in life, an open mind and more than one perspective is needed. Another benefit to going abroad, for me personally was my improvement in speaking Spanish. I have a Hispanic Studies minor and wanted to really learn the language well. This will benefit me in the future for teaching jobs, knowing another language and being able to communicate with the Hispanic population. A final main benefit to study abroad, which has contributed to my personal, academic and professional development, is the ability to handle difficult situations. When abroad, I was stretched beyond my boundaries and overcame difficulties I never dreamed I was capable of. This attribute is vital in one, academics because of how busy classes and coursework can get and two, professionally, when in situations where I need to act quickly or work through a situation that is unlike others. I am now not timid of situations that take me beyond my boundaries. I now have this motto, I survied living in Chile I can do anything.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Some advice I can offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering going abroad is to not be afraid to jump in and make mistakes. Being vulnerable, for example, speaking to a native Chilean in broken Spanish, takes a lot of courage but vulnerability is where growing and get better. And sometimes get to have amazing experiences such as four-wheeling through La Valle de la Muerte, in the Atacama desert, while other students slept in.If you jump in with no expectations other than its going to be a adventure you will have the best time in your life.