Amber Klein is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I decided to study abroad because I had never been out of the Midwest and I've lived in St. Joe my whole life. I was excited to see the world and experience new cultures that would introduce me to things that I could never experience back home. I chose London because it's a high-paced city and extremely diverse, a complete opposite atmosphere than what I grew up in. I was also drawn to the internship opportunity that is built into the program and was interested in developing not only as an individual but as a professional as well.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
We were living in London in the heat of the Brexit debates, which was a really cool time to be there. We had toured Parliament days before one of the biggest debates happened and watched it live in the pub down the street from our flat with lots of locals while eating fish and chips. That was at the beginning of the trip and really set the tone for the rest of the semester which was filled with more BBC watching nights, protests that derailed our travel plans to and from work and other parts of London and more. The best part about all of this was how involved the people of London were in what they believed in and how their governments decisions were going to affect themselves and their neighbors.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was indescribable. To put a semester with such growth, adventure and life lessons into words is really hard. I had the opportunity to travel to eight different countries in Europe, including England. I had a city of 8 million people at my fingertips to explore and learn from. We lived right down the street from the Royal Family in Kensington Palace and got to visit buildings and places that are many years older than our own country. My internship was a block away from one of the oldest and most famous markets in London, Borough Market, which is home to more than 100 different food and drink stalls with cuisine from all over the world. There are so many more things I could add that may help explain how special this experience was, but you'll have to contact me if you want to hear more. I met some life-long friends while on this trip and those relationships and the memories we share are also a very worthy reason to study abroad.
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?
The list of benefits of spending a semester abroad is endless. Spending four months in London helped me grow to be a more informed, progressive and thoughtful individual. Personally, I learned more about myself, what type of things I enjoy and how independent I can be. Academically, my classes pushed me to think outside the box and in a way that helped me to branch out from just a student but as a member of society and the world. I developed my skills as a professional rather quickly because I was placed at a company where I knew nothing about the subject matter of our products but was expected to provide information to clients, market our products and create ideas on how to further expand brand awareness. It challenged me and forced me to be quicker on my feet and think in new ways.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do it. If you're nervous, do it. If you're scared, do it. If you love it, do it. If your friends don't want to do it, do it. This is the time to get to know who you are, experience cultures from around the world and see that there's more to life than just where you're from and CSB/SJU. The world is an amazing place with amazing people. Don't let the fear of finances, being on your own or a new place turn you away from something that could be so beneficial and unforgettable. Embrace living outside your comfort zone and go for it.