Hannah Kooima

Hannah an Ambassador who studied abroad in India

Major: Social Science

Minor: Secondary Education


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

Ever since choosing at attend CSB/SJU I knew I wanted to study abroad, it was one of the big reasons I chose this school. After hearing about all the programs that were available through the school itself and not through external organizations I was hooked. I decided to travel to India because I felt like it was a once in a lifetime experience—if I did not study abroad here now would I ever have the confidence to go later on alone?

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

Cultural experiences happen everywhere you go in Kolkata. While walking down one street to get to school you might hear, smell, and see a ceremony happening at a roadside temple and be able to grab some 5 rupee chai from the tea man all on the same corner (this is a daily “cultural experience”) Examples such as this happen all. the. time.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

It is difficult to describe my experience as a whole. I can put it into 5 words—Overwhelming, exciting, confusing, mysterious, and beautiful. If you want to know more just ask me ☺ I would also say that living with a host family was my favorite part of the experience overall. It was wonderful to become so close with people in my host country and to be able to talk with them about anything I needed or wanted. Related to this, if you haven’t heard, India (specifically West Bengal) has excellent FOOD! I did not even know I liked Indian food that much until travelling and now I miss it everyday.

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?

Studying abroad has changed me for the better in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. I am much more independent and comfortable being along which is something that I used to struggle with. It’s okay to go to lunch or have an adventure on your own, enjoy your company! I also learned be appreciative of people from different backgrounds because you never know where someone came from or where they are going. As a white-looking young American female, it was impactful for me to live as a minority for a while; to know what it was like to stick out and be stared at solely based on how I looked. Living this experience, I feel that I am more of a well-rounded young adult.

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

If you are thinking about studying abroad but are unsure yet I’d say go explore your options. Reach out to the ambassadors you find on these pages—they have gone through the experience and loved it and are so happy to talk about it with you and answer ANY questions you may have. Of course, I have to insert a shameless plug in for India. This program is so special and so close to my heart now. Don’t be afraid to explore it, even if you decide it isn’t for you.