Renee Ries

Renee Ries is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy and Greece
Major: Elementary Education

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

My time at St. Ben's had been a wonderful experience of personal development and I thought that the Roman-Greco Program would be the perfect next step in my intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical development. Here are four examples of how I hoped and did accomplish these objectives:

· Intellectual- Enrich my life with cultural and art history opportunities

· Spiritual- Visit the Vatican, hope to see the Pope

· Emotional- Make lasting memories and bonding with an amazing group of new people in a new setting

• Physical- Run the original Athens Marathon

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

While I was in Athens, Greece I was blessed with the opportunity to run the original course of the Athens Marathon. It had always been on my bucket list to run a marathon and I thought about how life changing it would be to run it in the place where the marathon originated! I embraced the culture by meeting new people and following a cultural tradition that takes hard work and determination. The Athens Marathon is like no other on Earth. Crossing the finish line brought chills through my body, as it was in same ground that the Athenian messenger Phiedippides ran when he brought news of victory from the battlefield of Marathon 2,500 years ago. Having my group members there cheering me on at the end made it that much more special and rewarding.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was an unforgettable experience and I would go back again in a heartbeat! It is difficult to fully present my trip and all that happened in my four amazing months traveling from The Czech Republic, Paris, Switzerland, Spain,Italy,Greece, and Turkey, but I will say that going on this trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I learned independence, gained confidence, explored breathtaking places, adapted to live in two different cultures, budgeted money, accomplished my goals, and met amazing people along the way.

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?

My professional goal is to become an elementary school teacher. This program provided a first hand experience to share with my students instead of reading out of a textbook. It also enables me show pictures and tell stories of my experience in Rome, Greece, and all the other places I traveled before and during my time abroad. For as much as this experience was
incredible and fun, there were also struggles that helped me become a more resilient person. I am not better able to embrace ambiguity, take risks, and stay calm in nerve-racking situations such as getting lost, finding transportation, or trying to communicate in another language. Lastly, this trip will gave me a taste of what it is like to be the minority, and it will help to strengthen patience and understanding for my future students and co-workers of different backgrounds.

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

My advice is to erase all doubts and just GO! I was nervous about spending a lot of money, getting homesick, or missing out on the fun activities with friends on campus in the fall, but I am so glad I took that leap of faith and went on the most amazing trip of my life! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that anyone who has the opportunity should go on. I saw beautiful places, experienced, met a group of amazing friends, learned knowledge in many subject areas as well as in life, and gained the confidence to travel.



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