Christine is an ambassador who studied abroad in Galway, Ireland
Major: History and Pre-Medicine
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
My first time traveling abroad was the summer of 2007, and since then I knew that I wanted to travel again. Studying abroad was a priority for me when choosing a college to attend, and CSB/SJU boasted an extensive range of programs to participate in. What attracted me most to the Galway program was the amount of traveling I would be able to do throughout the country. I loved that numerous excursions were incorporated into the program, and they truly allowed me to feel at home in a foreign country. It allowed me to immerse myself in the Irish culture. Furthermore, as a History major, I relished the opportunity to learn about the history of Ireland and how its story fits with the histories of other countries I have studied. I wanted to further gain a global perspective, and this was the perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and confront four months of unknown adventures.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
On the last weekend of September, we were able to attend a performance in Galway called Trad on the Prom. The performance itself brought together numerous Irish musicians and dancers to celebrate the beautiful and unique past and tradition of Ireland. Riverdance, traditional songs, and passionate music were only some of the features that were brought together that magical night. Their art painted the story of Ireland's past along with their hope for the future. The Irish, throughout their history, are a people who best express themselves through their music. It was really the first time since arriving in Ireland that I had truly become captivated with Irish culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
No words could ever completely describe my experience abroad. I became immersed in a culture that had only months before had been completely foreign to me and fell in love with the country. I gained a wealthy of knowledge from my professors, my directors, the Foyle family, the locals, and my fellow Bennies and Johnnies with whom I shared many adventures with. Being abroad not only allowed me to remember my passion for traveling, but helped me learn more about myself and return home a changed person.
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?
Living in a completely foreign environment challenges you on every level imaginable. Spending an extended amount of time abroad undoubtedly took me out of my comfort zone, but the experience really showed me what I was actually capable of. It forced me to live in the moment and to take advantage of every opportunity. I became a more adaptable, confident and independent woman. However, it was not until I returned from my travels that I knew that I had really changed for the better. I am more outgoing, more willing to try new things and more aware of what is happening around the world. I see people, places, and things in a global perspective. On my time abroad, I got to see so many amazing, breathtaking, and beautiful things. I feel that because I had this awesome opportunity, I am more thankful for the life I have here in Minnesota and back home in California.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Your abroad experience is entirely what you make of it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for you to explore the world. Step out of your comfort zone, try something completely new, miss your family and friends, see the wonders of the world around you, and learn all you can about wherever you are. Above all, be prepared for and embrace the change. You won't regret a minute of it!