Colin Smisek

Colin is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria

Major: Biology

Minor: German

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

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience life in another culture. I decided on this program because I am a German minor and wanted to really apply my German speaking skills. Also, I have always been intrigued German/Austrian culture and I wanted to emerge myself into the culture that I have learned so much about.                              

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

We decided to eat a restaurant and we had extra room at our table. In their culture, if there is room at the table you take the spot even if others are at the table. So, native Austrians sat down next to us and at first it was a little uncomfortable but then we started talking to them. We talked for several hours with these natives and we learned so much about Austrian culture. This reminds that the world is a large place with many people all with different stories and that we should not be afraid to talk to anyone because so much can be learned from them. That will have a lasting impression on me.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

I had quite an amazing experience. I learned many useful skills that one might not learn by staying local. I would describe it as a four month long adventure. I had the opportunity to do something new everyday and I did things that I never thought I would've. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I wouldn't have traded for anything else.

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?

One thing I learned was how to be my own individual. I could do things that I personally wanted to do such as hike a mountain. I also had the opportunity to make lifelong friends with other Bennies and Johnnies on the trip and these friendships will be cherished for a very long time. Also, as a German minor it was wonderful to be able to practice my German in a native German speaking country.

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

I remember a quote from my study abroad adviser who stated, "There are two types of people, those who studied abroad and those who wished they studied abroad." After studying abroad this quote seems pretty accurate to me. At first I was a little scared to be studying abroad, which is normal, but if I didn't I would've missed out on so many great experiences. Going off of that, I would say to seize the moment. Everyday offers a new opportunity and go out and seize that opportunity! Don't lay around and be bored, there will be something new and exciting to try and I would encourage you to get out of that comfort zone because you will absolutely not regret it.