Emma is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Guatemala
Minor: Hispanic Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Studying abroad was always something that I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to minor in Hispanic Studies. So, I know I wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking. I narrowed it down to Spain and Guatemala and with the help of Roy Ketchum, the program director, I knew I wanted to go to Guatemala. I am more on the introverted side so the major draw was the one-on-one classes.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One day after going to Walmart/the mall with some friend, we took a mircobus back and got off near Parque Central. I thought that I knew where I was going but ended up taking us away from Parque Central. We stumbled upon a coffee shop with some college students and it was the start of some great relationships. We became good friends with the people there and the coffee shop became a beloved place. The people we randomly met welcomed us in the traditional Guatemalan welcome of a hug and a kiss, and just started talking to us. The friendliness of the people we met was such a blessing. Everyone from the teachers, to the families, to the hotel or restaurant owners we'd meet traveling were all so caring. There was such a sense of sincerity and care that it was so easy to make friends and have lasting relationships.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It was life changing. I, of course, came back with improved Spanish speaking abilities and confidence. But more importantly I came back more confident as a person and changed in many ways. The class structure was perfect for me and it really fostered learning. Overall, going to Guatemala is something I wouldn't change in the world. I came back with a new look on life and how I wanted to live it and kept some amazing relationships as well.
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?
It allowed me to think more globally and learn about how the world is so interconnected. And in returning the the United States I was able to reflect on our society. Being able to adjust to the different society and cultural norms allowed me to learn to be more flexible and not focus so much and time but getting things done well and enjoy doing it. I've learned how to deal with barriers such as language and learned how to be independent while still having others as support.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Get out there. Do the things you may have never done before. Do the things that sound interesting. Be by yourself and learn to be okay being alone. Make friends with teachers, family, CSB/SJU students, other students, and people from the community. As awkward or as hard as it might be don't let yourself stay in a safe bubble and just stick to a routine. Explore, have fun, and let serendipity do the rest!