Katherine Gammon

Katherine is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London

Major: English

Minor: Gender Studies

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

I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but I was on the fence about where. I bounced back and forth between London, Japan, and Roman Greco, but ultimately decided on London for a few reasons. One reason was because I wanted to study abroad in an English speaking country; not being able to communicate with people makes me nervous, so I knew that going to an English speaking country would give me one less thing to worry about. The second reason I chose London was because of the internship opportunity. I wanted something that could build up my resume, give me experience in the workplace, and possibly give me direction as to what kind of jobs to pursue after college. The third reason is that being an English major, I felt that London would be the perfect fit because of its strong ties to literature.                          

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

The most important cultural experience I had during my semester in London was spending a weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon with FIE. Stratford-upon-Avon was William Shakespeare's birthplace, and also where he died. We visited Shakespeare's family home, Anne Hathaway's (his wife) cottage, Hall's croft (his daughter's house), Church of the Holy Trinity (where he was baptized and also where he is buried), his schoolroom/Guild Hall, Shakespeare's New Place (where his adulthood home stood before it was destroyed), and the Swan Theatre where we saw two plays put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Being an English major, this experience meant so much to me and it was the best experience I had in London.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Studying abroad in London was the best decision I ever made. Living in the city was fantastic and a great change from rural St. Joseph and suburban Eden Prairie. London was also more diverse than Minnesota, which made me, as a person of color, very happy. The flats were fantastic to live in and I became very close with all of my flatmates. The course I chose to take was Contemporary British Theatre, which was super fun because we went to a play every week. The internship opportunity was also great because I could gain experience and understand what it's like to work in the UK. Our weekly field trips with our study abroad adviser also helped me learn a lot of new things and get acquainted with the London area. Overall, I learned so much and grew so much as a person, and I've made lifelong friends through this experience.

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?

The biggest benefit that came out of my study abroad experience was that I grew so much as a person. Being thrown into a completely new environment without my parents was a huge wakeup call. I had to learn to be more independent and to stop relying on them to help me with every little thing. Instead, I learned to do things on my own and was surprised with how much I could do without their help. I grew up more in the four months I spent studying abroad than I did in all my years of college. Being more independent carried into my life after study abroad as well, and I feel more prepared for the “real world” after college now. I also grew in the sense of becoming more outgoing. I was always a shy girl, but being thrown into an environment without my friends and family as a safety net allowed me to come out of my shell and make new bonds and lasting friendships. I developed relationships with friends, professors, and colleagues, and I am more confident in my ability to make connections with new people.

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

My advice for any students who are considering to study or intern abroad is to just do it! I definitely had my doubts about doing it, especially since I was so shy and didn’t like doing things out of my comfort zone. But I’m glad I pushed myself to do it, and I grew so much because of it. It is definitely a difficult experience, but it is so worth it, and the rewards that come out of the experience will stay with you for the rest of your life.