Collin Ernste

Collin is an Ambassador who studied abroad in South Africa

Major: Psychology

Minor: Music

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

I chose this program because I wanted something that was going to influence my life. I wanted to be in a place that was going to make me more uncomfortable. South Africa seemed like the perfect fit. It was a place I never thought I was going to go to Africa and I wanted to change that.              

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

Volunteering in the township and seeming extreme poverty made me really think about the privilege that I come from. I realized how much we try to hide poverty in the US. It changed my life and made me realize I want to work with communities that are underprivileged.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My experience was absolutely life changing, I'm sure everyone says that. Honestly though, I made some life long friends on this trip. I learned so many things about myself and about the beautiful country. I got to experience things like surfing or seeing a wild lion, these were amazing moments. The best moments were during volunteering though. I got to teach violin lessons to kids in the township and that was some of the best moments of my 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?

I believe I became a much more well rounded individual. Personally I realized that I need to be more aware of my privilege and those of others. Some people don't have as many privileges as us and it's important to advocate for equality just as was advocated in South Africa during apartheid. Academic wise I learned a lot about the history of south Africa and their current political climate. Professionally I realized I want to work with kids and I want to work with those from less privileged communities.

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

I would say keep your options open and look for programs that are going to make you a little uncomfortable. Sometimes being uncomfortable is good because it helps you realize who you are and where you stand as an individual. Look to ensure that the classes are things that interest you. It is a study abroad so you will be studying, at least a little bit.