Hannah Esselman

Hannah is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile

Major: Hispanic Studies

Minor: Secondary Education


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

I decided to study abroad because it was my best option to get the most out of my Hispanic Studies major. I wanted the full experience I could get here at CSB/SJU and since we are a leading college in sending students abroad, I decided to go. The Chile program was easy to choose because I wanted to go somewhere that seemed less explored than other places. Spain and Guatemala are beautiful places to see, but Chile offered so much more to me, personally. The different geographies, the unusual accent, and going to South America in general were the concepts that drew me in most.

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

My host family in general made a lasting impression on me during my time in Chile. There was one time that I'll always remember when we decided to try and cook lunch together. Lunch is the most important meal of the day to Chileans and usually consists of two or three courses. My Chilean host mom gave me the simple task of peeling tomatoes. Little did she know that I have nearly no experience in the kitchen. If I thought cooking in English was stressful, cooking in another language is ten times more stressful of a situation! In the end we had a good time bonding and she still gives me a hard time about not knowing how to peel tomatoes.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My overall study abroad experience was amazing. It was more than I could have ever dreamed it could be. The group I traveled with from CSB/SJU was cohesive and worked like a team. I was fortunate enough to travel on weekends to places like the San Pedro de Atacama, Pucon, and Machu Picchu. I was treated like family by a Chilean host mom and sister who still stay in contact with me to this day. The list goes on and on with things I loved about my experience in Chile.

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?

Some of the benefits of studying abroad for a semester are growing as a person, receiving academic credit, and being able to say you lived in a foreign country for four months.
Personally, I had no idea what life was going to be like for four months, but the mystery was ok with me. I used to be someone who needed everything planned out for weeks to come, but now I'm not afraid of not exactly knowing what my plans are. Studying abroad changed me for the better in that way.
Going to school in Chile was a great time. My professors were all understanding, helpful, and very knowledgeable. Because I studied abroad, it was very easy to fulfill a lot of credits for my Hispanic Studies major AND some of my core requirements for graduation. Receiving academic credit in Chile made it easier for me to stay on track to graduate in four years and I couldn't be more thankful.
Professionally studying abroad benefits me because, as an aspiring Spanish teacher, I am able to say I lived in a Spanish speaking country. Chile gave me the priceless experience I need in order to succeed professionally after I graduate.

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

My advice I can offer to those who are only thinking about studying abroad I say do it. Study abroad because it will, without a doubt, be one of the best experiences of your life. CSB/SJU excels at sending students overseas and going to Chile was the scariest but best decision of my life. If you are already planning on studying abroad, my advice would be to travel as much as you can. Netflix, reading that really good book, or talking to whoever can wait a little bit longer. Take the opportunity to go out and explore because you never know when, or if, you'll be back.