Paige Espelien

Paige is an Ambassador who studied abroad on the Roman-Greco program
Major: Psychology

 

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

I chose to study abroad because I wanted a different perspective on the world. I always knew that as an American things were different here than they were elsewhere, and I just needed to get out there and see if for myself. It was time to look through a different lens. I chose the Roman-Greco program not only because I had interest in the Vatican and sites like the Trevi Fountain, but because I knew the life style would be totally different. I wanted a place where English was the minority and where I would be challenged as an individual.

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

In Greece, we were able to be right in the heart of Athens when the original marathon was taking place. I signed up to volunteer which was an experience in itself. I handed out water and picked up thrown bottles for the 5k race and the 10k race. I was placed at a station where I was the only one who was not Greek, or Greek speaking along with a couple other study abroad students like me. We had to figure out how to communicate with them to figure out what they wanted us to do, and we even learned some of their words of encouragement that they were saying to the runners. It was such a gratifying experience to work alongside of them for a good cause. Words didn't need to be said but we understood each other. Not to mention, it put a smile on the faces of the people running to see students who were helping. That made a real impression on me and is something I won't forget.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall, this experience was absolutely fantastic. There was something new everyday to explore, something to learn, something new to eat, something to put you out of your comfort zone. I learned so much about myself as a person and really grew as a productive individual in society. I learned so much about art, culture, and language in my classes and a lot of it was hands on experiences in museums and churches and galleries. We went through some trials, but I would not take anything back because those experiences made me who I am today.

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?

There are so many benefits to studying abroad. It gives the global perspective that I think everyone should have the chance to experience. Everyone should experience what it is like out of the United States bubble to see what the rest of the world is about. Learning how to get along with a group of people I didn't know in a foreign place where everyone is out of place really brings people together and makes relationships stronger. It helps you learn about yourself and encourages you to understand others better. Academically, we were often out on site, in the ruins hearing the lecture, which put a lot more value on the things we were learning. I got a little break from the business of my major and had the opportunity to learn something I never would have at school. As a psychology major going into clinical psychology, a lot of it is learning to study people, their behaviors, and their interactions with others. On this study abroad trip, I found it fascinating to study other cultures of people I met, and to understand what other people are doing and where they come from. At first glance I wasn't sure how I would be able to relate psychology to my experience, but I have found that a lot of the things I observed and learned will be used in my career for the rest of my life.

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

If you are planning to study abroad my biggest piece of advice would be to go "all in" with everything you've got. Embrace the unknown and do things that you might not be comfortable with at first, because those are the experiences you will remember forever, that will have the most impact on you. Eat weird things, SPEND MONEY. Obviously a budget needs to be put in place, but you will talk to people who said they were trying to save money and be stingy, but now are regretting it. You have spent the money to get there so try to make it the fullest experience you can. Enjoy the little things, all of it will be new, but there will be little things that surprise you everyday that will really make a difference in your life. Be vulnerable and open up to people, make friendships because these are the ones that will last. Trust me when I say, traveling with someone really brings people closer than they ever thought possible. Oh, and you do need to study, some people don't realize this until about half way through but I think most people will be happier that they did. Also, now is the time when you get to focus on yourself. After all, it's you against the world!

Questions?
Do you have any questions about studying abroad in Italy and Greece? Email Paige at prespelien@csbsju.edu