Halle Erickson is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London in the Spring semester.
Major: Global Business Leadership
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Choosing to study abroad was not an easy choice for me. I didn't know I was going to apply until emails started coming out about the various different programs that CSB/SJU offers. I love being in Minnesota, not too far from home, and was content staying in my comfort zone. But when I started thinking about it, I really wanted to make the most of my college experience, especially at a school that gives up such great opportunities to do so. I ultimately decided to study abroad because of what I would get out of it. I wanted to embrace a new adventure, gain different cultural insights, and push myself to be the best me possible. I knew before choosing to apply that the spring semester was going to work best with my schedule, and knowing my major required an internship, London was the most appealing. What better way to gain knowledge and experience than doing it abroad surrounded by so many new and exciting people and places.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While studying abroad, you are immersing yourself into a different culture that is not what you are used to. My friends and I took full advantage of our time abroad, traveling as much as we could, fully engaging in different countries and their cultures. As we traveled throughout Europe, the specific cultural experience that truly held a lasting impression on me to this day was in my internship. As I was being introduced on the first day, I kept getting asked the question, "Are you alright?" I didn't know how to take this question being in America, it simply meant just that. Not knowing how Londoners approached each other was the first time I truly felt out of place, which truly was the best learning experience for me. You make up all these things in your head before you study abroad that scare you. Whether it is at your internship where you want to fit in and make a good impression, or simply walking the streets, you never want to feel out of place. But this experience of a simple question that I was unsure of how to answer was such a good learning experience for me. I truly realized that I was being approached as though London was my home and I was one of them. In the end, it is okay to feel as though you don't fit in right away. We all will feel out of place, nervous, and apprehensive especially when different cultural experiences occur in our life. I truly loved being immersed in a different culture that allowed me to learn something new about their way of life every single day. What I learned from a simple "Are you alright?", which means in London terms is how are you doing or how is it going, is that questions are welcomed. London was so welcoming to me and I couldn't be happier to call it my second home!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience as a whole was amazing. Being able to call London a home away from home, and gaining so much from such a great experience is something I will treasure forever. Before studying abroad, I was nervous. I didn't know how I was going to do being away from home for 4 months, thinking it would feel like forever. Little did I know, this experience passed in a blink of an eye. I was able to travel so much while in Europe, seeing other places that I wouldn't have been able to, meeting people I would not have had the chance of meeting if it wasn't for this experience. As well as school, my internship gave me friendships as well. I gained insight to charities throughout London and Europe in general, learned how businesses operate in Europe and some cultural differences that made London so unique.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?
Prior to studying abroad, you think of every question that may make you nervous. To me, being away for a whole semester abroad was scary. 4 months of independence, relying on yourself, and all of the uncertainties was something I was not used to. Now looking back, I wish I had had more time abroad. The saying "time flies when you're abroad" truly speaks the truth. I believe having the option to study abroad for a whole semester allows you to truly immerse yourself into the country that you are studying in. You start to recognize the noises, the people, the language, and the different cultural aspects that allow you to start to feel at home. I was able to learn so much about myself personally that I feel that I grew so much in such a short amount of time. Personally, I was able to become far more independent, I became more flexible, and I have learned to embrace everything with open arms. Academically, I have learned to give it everything I have, to not be afraid to speak my mind, and to embrace mistakes because that is how we learn and thrive. Lastly, by doing an internship, it allowed me to see what my professional future may look like. I now want to work somewhere with similar values that focus on helping others and their wellbeing. London truly helped me develop into the person I am today, and I couldn't be more thankful for the entire experience.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The ability to study abroad, learn in a different country, intern at a place you never saw yourself, is what it is all about. Gaining your independence, pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself by taking the adventure, and the friendships that will last a lifetime is how I grew as a person and believe I can help others that may be afraid to take that jump. Being at a school that allows you to do this, I thought why not take full advantage and see the world! These memories are going to last a lifetime for you! For some people, such as myself, I was afraid to even start the journey of applying to go abroad. I didn't think I could do it, I didn't think I could afford it, and was worried about being away from home for that long. But I did it and can honestly say it changed my life for the better. I want to be that helping hand for those that may be nervous or scared about considering studying abroad or simply nervous about leaving. This experience is once in a lifetime, and I want to be able to be that person that helps them take this experience head on!