Holly is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile.
Major: Integrative Health Science and Hispanic Studies
Student Athlete: UAI Futbolito de damas
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad primarily to expand my language horizons. This was my first concern but after speaking with people who had traveled abroad (not just on the Chile trip), I realized how much of a life-changing experience it could be. The other part of this trip that intrigued me was the location. I have wanted to travel to South America since high school when one of my teachers taught us about the region. Not only in my experiences during the semester, but also in my post travel experiences I was able to explore the country from the driest desert in the world in the North all the way to the mountains full of glaciers in the South, and everything in between.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience I had was an ongoing affair. It may seem odd, but my mealtimes with my host family became one of my favorite parts to my experience. What at first was an awkward silence while I butchered my Spanish, slowly became an opportunity to learn about my extended family and the culture that I was now immersed in. Whenever I had questions about something that happened, I would ask my host mom at lunch or dinnertime and she and my host sister would do their best to explain. More than anything, this made a lasting impression not only on my Spanish language skills, but also on my relationship with my host family.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I can't really say anything but that it was incredible. Every piece, from attending a class with all Chileans, to playing on the school soccer team and even getting to play in games, to experiencing the night life that is such an integral part of the culture there; every piece was unique and helped create so many memories that I will hold with me forever. Our study abroad group was an integral piece to every aspect of these things also. We went from people who said courteous "hi"s on campus to people who freak out when we see each other simply because we know that we share so much and have grown so much together.
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?
One of the most obvious benefits of the Chile program is living with a host family because this will improve your language skills more than anything else. I grew personally because this was the first time I had spent that much time consecutively away from everything that I was familiar with. I traded comfort for the unknown and that was scary at first, especially during all of those "firsts" that every student who goes abroad experiences. Slowly though, I learned my way around and became a part of the culture. It helped my academic goals because I was able to take all classes that counted toward my major during my time and completed my wishes for the "study" part of study abroad. Professionally, through the service learning component, I was able to work at a hospital with children, adolescents, adults, and elderly with mental disabilities. This was such an integral part of my trip that will distinguish me in the future because not only do I have this experience, but I have it and succeeded in another country that speaks another language.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would say just go for it. If even the smallest piece of you is considering it, you owe it to yourself to at least explore the possibilities. Even if you think the financial piece of studying/interning abroad is going to be difficult, at least apply. There are so many scholarships to help offset the total cost that this should be one of the last concerns. I would also say do your research. This school has so many opportunities between internships and study experiences that you will probably find more than one you're interested in - that's what happened to me at least. Connect with the ambassadors (we love to talk about our abroad experiences!!!) because we want nothing more than to convince you to pick "our" trip.