Emily is an Ambassador who studied abroad in South Africa
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I wanted the abroad experience and I chose the South Africa program for many reasons. I've always had an interest in the country's history, politics, and culture. I also really liked the service component of the trip because I wanted service and exposure to a different (not western) culture in my abroad experience.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
We stayed in the homes of families in a town ship. It was so amazing to see how they live every day, how they cook, clean, and entertain themselves and learn about relationships and hear their stories of how they got to where they are. We met a lot of people during our time there and got to know many of them but to stay with a family was really impressionable.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It's hard to explain my overall experience in only so many words. The experience was absolutely amazing in many different aspects. I learned so much about myself, the country, the people there, and made a lot of friends from CSBSJU and around the world. There were some challenges facing the poverty that we saw and worked in and learning about the corruption and vast government issues. If I could do it all again I would in a heartbeat, my experience was impacting to the way I think about the world and my role in my school, community, and county.
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?
As I said above, my experience abroad in some ways changed how I view the world but it also reaffirmed my passion and the direction I want to take in my professional and personal development. I've always known I want to work with people or for people who aren't as well of as I was throughout my life. I want to empower people to succeed and flourish independently. Seeing how hard people in South Africa work to live this way but are struggling to live at all and very little sustainable help from the government and the citizens of South Africa drove in me the importance of service and civic engagement. I want to create or work for already existing services that provide opportunities and resources for people who need that extra hand to then create an indecent life for themselves.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
GO, GO, GO! No matter who you talk to, you will always hear it was an amazing opportunity and you may never have another chance. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my experience and all the friendships I've made and personal growth. Everyone should have this opportunity to immerse themselves in another country and experience the way people live elsewhere.