Elizabeth Riitters

Elizabeth is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Valladolid, Spain

Major: Psychology

Minor: Gender Studies

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

I choose to study abroad this last summer because I love learning about new cultures and Spain seemed like a good chance to dip my feet in to traveling abroad. I decided on the Spain Language short term trip because I felt that it would be an amazing opportunity to improve my understanding and fluidity of the Spanish language, along with fulfilling my language requirement at CSB/SJU.          

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

On my abroad trip, we lived with host families. Being emerged in their daily lives forced us to truly live in their culture and learn as we go. We ate lunch and dinner together everyday and I tried to learn more about them during these times. My family did not speak much English at all, so I had to try my hardest to communicate with them by using my Spanish that I was learning. I also created a bond with them that I know will last a while. This experience of living with a family native to Valladolid, Spain truly helped me grow in my understanding of the culture.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall, my study abroad experience was unforgettable. The 5 weeks I spent in Valladolid are 5 weeks I will cherish forever. I learned so much about myself along with making long lasting friendships with students from CSB/SJU and my host family. I plan on studying abroad for a semester, so this abroad trip kicked off my hunger to learn more and experience the different cultures in the world.

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?

Based on my experiences in Spain, benefits included not only learning more of the Spanish language, but also achieving personal growth. I was forced to independently explore on my own with my classmates, not knowing anything around us. We had to work through misunderstandings with our Spanish professor, host families, and people native to the city. Having these struggles pushed me to learn the language as best as I could so I could understand them and communicate with them. I stepped outside my comfort zone on this trip, which was the biggest factor to my personal and academic growth.

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

I say to study abroad no matter what. Even if it is a short term trip, it is so worth it. You will never get an experience like this anywhere else, so take advantage of it while you still can. If you're financially worried about this trip, apply for as many scholarships as you can because a study abroad trip will change your academic and personal life. Take that leap out of your comfort zone, get uncomfortable, because experiences like that are what form who you are.