Cole is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Student Athlete: SJU Tennis
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I choose to study abroad because I wanted to get a better understanding of what the world was actually like besides in the United States. I grew up traveling a lot because my mom is a flight attendant but I never had the opportunity to live/ study in a different country. I had to choose a program in the fall because of sports and I needed to finish my language requirements. Chile met these goals of what I was looking for academically. Also, Chile really attracted my interests because you get to live with a host family and the volunteer aspect, which was probably the best experience for myself. Another amazing aspect was living five minutes from the ocean and learning to surf.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A cultural experience that made a lasting impression on me was the day I had to leave my host families house. After four months of living with them you get really connected to your host parents and the sisters I had as well. This just reminded me about all the good experiences and times I had with them. Not forgetting that all the Spanish I know is because they helped me everyday to improve.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My experience could not have been better. I learned a lot in the classroom, but even more outside of the classroom. One of the best experiences is the opportunity to volunteer. I chose Valpo Surf Project which helped underprivileged children stay on track with school and keeping them off the streets. Another cool aspect is that on the weekends you take them surfing to the beach in Con Con. The opportunity to travel is amazing as well. There are so many places that you can visit just for a weekend or for a week as well. I traveled to Peru, Patagonia, the lake district in Pucon, Santiago, and the weekend trip you take with the group to the Atacama desert. You learn so much from the opportunities you choose to take.
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?
Spending a semester abroad really allows you to grow as a person because of the culture. For my experience of being in a foreign country with a language barrier allows you to become more independent. For example, you have to figure out how to get around the city with transportation. You have to interact with people you would have no chance of meeting. You meet life long friends in your group and from the country itself. There are so many benefits from studying abroad.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would recommend creating a budget so that you can have the opportunity to do everything that you want to do. I also recommend saving immediately and working hard over the summer so that it does become more affordable. Also, put yourself out of your comfort zone so that you can experience more and help you grow.