Mackenzie Neal

Mackenzie is an Ambassador who studied abroad on the Roman-Greco program
Major: Theology

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

I came in knowing I wanted to participate in the Roman/Greco program. I knew that studying abroad allowed me to see the world in a way traveling on your own doesn't allow. I knew that I could live in another country and study there while still exploring the new city. I also chose to study abroad because I knew that doing so would open new opportunities in the future.  I chose the Roman/Greco program because I had a deep desire to travel to both Greece and Rome. Being able to do so in one program was great! I loved the split concept of this program and the courses offered. I wanted a program with a different language and culture than I am used to.


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

When studying in Rome I would walk to class everyday using the same route. Every day as I would pass our last bridge, I would see the same homeless man. He was always begging and in the beginning I would ignore him. But after a bit I remembered that I needed to treat him with the same respect I did to everyone else, and that meant acknowledging him and smiling to him. I knew that if I ignored him, I was ignoring Jesus. At first it was awkward but then slowly he started smiling at me too. One day I was running back from class, with my headphones in, dodging people and distracted. Over the city noise, I could hear him clapping and cheering for me! I remember this so clearly and it one of my favorite moments.


Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Indescribable would be the word I would use. There is no way I can fully express my experience in a quick response. I grew tremendously, met fantastic friends, learned and experienced 2 very different cultures, learned what it felt like to be the 'other', became really good at finding my own way, got better at working with others and balancing 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 know that my experiences will help me in so many different aspects of my life. I already know that my experiences I have had are helping me in my current job and gives me a broader outlook on the world in the classroom. My friendships that I made both on my own trip and with other study abroad programs will make my final year on campus so much better! I have made lifelong friends who I know will always be there for me. My friend group has grown so much because of all of the new friends I have made!


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

Say 'YES' to everything (within reason)! You are only studying abroad once (most likely). Who knows when the next time you will get to go get gelato with friends in Rome? You have the opportunity to go away for the weekend? Say 'YES'. Scared to try something new? Say 'YES'!! Be open to new ideas!  Live your own trip. Don't live through your friends and siblings who have done the same trip. They have awesome advice, but make this trip yours! Find your own awesome spots, figure your way on your own. Don't do everything just like they did!  Live it up because it goes by way too fast!


Do you have questions about studying abroad in Italy and Greece?  Email Mackenzie at