Alison Gerads

Alison is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greece & Italy

Major: Accounting


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

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to study abroad which is also one of the reasons why I chose to attend St. Ben's. The opportunity to live somewhere new and experience what another country has to offer was exciting to me. It took me a long time to finally decide that the Greco-Roman program would be the one for me. There were so many cool places I could have spent a semester, but when it came down to it, living in European countries allowed me to travel around Europe and both Greece and Italy have so much to offer in themselves. If I had to go back and choose again, I would do the same program all over again.

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

One aspect of the Greek culture that comes to my mind is the cafe/coffee culture. In Greece it was customary to spend hours at a cafe, even if you only ordered one thing. I, along with many others on the program, would do homework and meet up at the innumerable cafes around the area where we lived in Greece. These experiences also allowed me to learn how to slow down and enjoy life; something I wasn't the best at doing.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Participating in the Greco-Roman program was one of the coolest experiences of my life. There aren't many times when we are allowed to get up and leave to go live in another country for four months and I'm so glad that I chose to take the opportunity. During my semester I met new people, climbed Mount Olympus, explored ancient ruins all over Athens, rode a gondola in Venice, touched Pope Francis' hand, and so much more. These memories are ones I wouldn't have been able to make if I hadn't studied abroad. There are really no words to describe this amazing experience.

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?

Studying abroad has taught me so much about the world and myself and I truly believe I have come out a better person. Personally, I have become more independent, confident, and aware of the world around me. I also believe these skills will benefit me professionally as well. Through part of our seminar class on mindfulness, I have also learned how to slow down and enjoy the moment.

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

Even if you are a nervous about the idea of spending a few months in another country, I would highly recommend going for it. It is difficult to live somewhere you are not used to and to be away from family and the comforts of home, but it's also one of the most eye-opening experiences you could have. It is also important to remember that it is only a couple of months. The time goes by so quickly and soon you will be home missing those aspects of your host country that you grew to love. So, if you have any interest in spending a semester abroad, you won't regret it.