Alyssa Louwagie

Alyssa is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy and Greece.

Major: Natural Science (Pre-PT)

Athlete: Dance Team

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

I never planned on studying abroad because I did not think it would fit in my schedule, and I would have to give up some activities at school for the year... However, I knew that I wanted to make traveling a priority in my life, and this was the perfect opportunity! I chose the Roman-Greco program because it allowed me to become immersed into two different countries. Italy was the top country on my bucket list, and Greece was not far from the top! I wanted to experience something drastically different from MN, and these two Mediterranean countries with a language barrier were the perfect fit!

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

In Greece I was surprised by the amazing hospitality of the people. Every cafe or store we went to the workers would start a conversation, and give us extra goodies. One specific experience that stood out to me was when a group of us went to a local wine shop just down the street from our apartments. Wine is a large part of Italy and Greece's culture. Our professor recommended that we check out this place because the guy was friendly, and the wine was cheap! We thought we would be in there for 15 minutes, but we ended up being there for two hours! The owner had his friends over and we talked with them, ordered pizza, and learned about the owner's business. Those small relationships that you make with the locals are the best relationships because you learn about other people's day to day lives in different parts of the World.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

How do you describe the most amazing four months of your life so far in one paragraph? I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to twelve different countries throughout my four months abroad and see all their different cultures. Not only traveling, but living in two different countries gave me such a different outlook on the World. It was nice to have most of our classes out in the city (instead of reading about the Colosseum, we were standing inside of it)! This program also has several weekend excursions to different areas of Italy and Greece that I did not even know existed. Most importantly, I formed new friendships and learned a lot about the World and myself.

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?

Although the cultural change is drastic, it forces you to grow as a person, and see the World differently. There is a tough language barrier in both countries and that gives you the opportunity to learn to communicate in different ways. In Italy and Greece people live with less, and it helped me develop a sense of how fortunate we are in the USA. They also "live to work, not work to live." They love what they do, and don't do it to make the money, but to be happy and make others happy. I've taken some of the values and customs that they have and applied them to my life. Spending four months in a new environment has opened my eyes to what is important to me and my future.

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

Take every opportunity that is offered to you because it all goes so fast! Wake up early, avoid Netflix, and explore the city. Some of the most amazing places and moments were out walking around in new areas of the city! Travel around Europe as much as you can because once you are there flights are less expensive. Lastly, things will not go exactly how you plan them, but be flexible and go with the flow! It is the experience of a lifetime.