Dana Svensson

Dana is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London

Major: History and Philosophy


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

I always knew that if I had the opportunity to study abroad in college I wanted to take it, the hard part was deciding where to go. Eventually I realized that London was the best choice for me. Living in such a cultural hub allowed me to explore my interest in theater and the arts and I knew a big city would better accommodate my gluten-free diet. Ultimately though, it was the international internship component that really won me over. Not only was it a chance to gain experience in a field that interested me, I felt that it would immerse me in the culture in a new way and help me understand what it was like to be a Londoner. I was right. My internship was such a valuable experience and it ended up being one of my favorite parts of studying abroad.                              

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

Once, while waiting at the tube station on the way to my internship, I distinctly remember a TFL employee saying over the loudspeaker “We are not sure if or when the next Piccadilly Line train will arrive at this station.” Due to repairs and strikes the service was delayed, but I still needed to get to my internship on time. My ease in coming up with an alternate route (two other tube lines and a 10 minute walk) made me realize how well I knew the city, and how much confidence I had gained over the course of the semester. Later, griping about the tube delays with my coworkers over our mid-morning “cuppa” I felt like a real Londoner.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Study abroad pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way. I grew closer to the people on my program from CSB/SJU and met amazing people from all over the world. During my semester in London I did things I never would have had the opportunity to do at home. I traveled to six other countries, attended West End shows, and got to see all sorts of iconic places in London, not to mention working at an internship that I loved.

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?

I know everyone says it, but it’s true: study abroad will give you so much confidence and independence. Academically, study abroad is a chance to learn by doing—most of my classes incorporated a lot of field trips around and even outside of the city. With the London program specifically, there is also the international internship component. I was placed at The Foundling Museum, a small London museum following the history of the first public art gallery and children’s charity in the UK. My internship was perfectly aligned to my History major and interest in the arts, and allowed me to gain experience in a field I might go into one day. It was also an opportunity for me to get a glimpse of what it’s really like to live and work in London, and to get to know real Londoners.

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

Think about what you want to get out of study abroad and choose a program that will help you accomplish it. Travel on weekends and immerse yourself in the culture. Take lots of pictures and document your time abroad, even the littlest things are part of an experience you won’t want to forget.