Cecilia is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greece & Italy
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Study abroad is always something that I have been interested in. The opportunity to learn about a different country their culture through firsthand experience was too incredible to pass up. This being said, the study abroad programs here were one of the contributing factors in my enrollment at CSB/SJU. I loved that I could learn to be independent and travel all while continuing with my academics, and maintaining the community feeling of Saint Bens and Saint Johns.
The reason I choose the Greco-Roman program was mainly due to the rich historical and cultural backgrounds of the countries. Additionally, I loved the idea of making two extremely beautiful countries my home. Another reason I decided on the Greco-Roman program was because of the class our director proposed to teach. It perfectly aligned with my major, and proved to be extremely interesting.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience that had a lasting impression on me was a conversation with a local Greek at the local coffee shop. Not only was she extremely willing to talk to me, but she was completely open and honest. We talked about Greek religion, politics, education, healthcare etc. It was really eye-opening for me to have a conversation with someone on the complete opposite side of the world, and realize that we have so much in common.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I think this question is incredibly hard to answer, because there’s no way I will ever be able to fully describe my overall study abroad experience. We saw too many things, had too many incredible experiences, and ate too much amazing food to be able to narrow it down into a little description. All I can really say is that Study Abroad is honestly the best thing that I have ever done. Every single moment is a memory that you will want to cherish. When you’re in school, the Academics are interesting and often onsite. Furthermore, outside of school, the sky’s the limit when it comes to exploring and engaging in the culture of your host country.
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 been extremely important in all three of these areas. I think the most valuable thing I learned was time management and organization. I really had to find a balance between academics and my personal life. I stayed on top of all my Academics in order to take advantage of all of the other opportunities in my free time.
Professionally, I was able to develop my communication skills as well as the ability to think quickly and critically. Not everything goes 100% according to the plan while you’re abroad, and it’s how you react to these changes that allows you develop these independent skills.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The biggest advice I have when it comes to students who are even considering abroad in the slightest is to just GO. Even if you’re on the fence, take the risk. I promise it’s completely worth the reward. Another piece of advice I have is to look into different scholarship programs. A lot of people, including myself, are/were worried about the finances of abroad. CSB/SJU really does try to make it accessible for everyone, but it still does cost a good amount of money. The summer/semester before you leave, really try to save as much as you can. Additionally, when you’re abroad, spend your money on different experiences, not the material items.