Jasmine is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy & Greece
Major: Nutrition, Pre-OT
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I first heard about all the study abroad opportunities CSB/SJU offered when I was a senior in high school, and I was not sure if it was something I wanted to do. I had never been away from home for four months, but I figured that the experiences I would have while abroad would be well worth the time I spent away. After learning about the different programs and hearing about the great experiences other people had while abroad, I began considering my options. The Roman-Greco program fit my academic plan and sparked my interest. The eternal city of Rome has always been somewhere I wanted to experience, and what better way than to live there for six weeks?! I knew I wanted to study abroad in a large city (two big cities, with this program!) since it would be unfamiliar to me, and push me outside of my comfort zone. The Roman-Greco program stood out because it would allow to understand, experience, and integrate myself into two unique cultures, with different languages, customs, and religions.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Our theology course in Athens required that we find and interview a Greek Orthodox Christian to learn about the religious tradition that permeates Greek society. I decided to take this assignment to a large garden near our apartment. I was walking around the garden looking for someone to interview, so I approached a man sitting alone on a park bench and asked him if I could interview him. It turned out that he was not Greek Orthodox, so I was quick to thank him for his time and walk away. However, he stopped me and told me to sit down. I had already learned that Greeks are always willing to talk about anything and everything with total strangers. Obligingly, I sat on a park bench and talked with this man for an hour about his identity, occupation, worldview, and personal struggles. This experience stuck out to me because it was not one that I would encounter again anywhere in the States. This man could have let me walk away and continue about his day. However, he was genuinely interested in the project I was trying to complete, my studies, and spent time sharing his life experiences with me. The stranger I met in the park represented many Greeks well: hospitable, genuine, and welcoming.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall, my study abroad experience was a real-life dream that I want to relive. It is still surreal that I spent six weeks in two of the most famous cities in the world. The four months I spent abroad went by so fast, yet I made so many memories, life-long friendships, and learned so much about myself and the international society we live in. My semester abroad was undoubtedly difficult as I was forced out of my comfort zone every single day. I learned something new about the culture I was immersed in, myself, and those I shared this experience with each day. My semester abroad was the most influential and memorable four months of my life so far.
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?
Spending an entire semester abroad allowed me to experience things that a tourist would not in addition to forming relationships with local Italians and Greeks. Studying abroad has helped me better understand the role I play in society and what I want to pursue in the future. When abroad, I had to be independent and confident in my abilities to navigate foreign places. Being able to communicate with Italians and Greeks across the language barrier also helped to develop skills in communication, which I believe will be beneficial to me in my future career. In addition, my ability to work on a team was enhanced during this experience. It was crucial to effectively work and communicate with my peers as we navigated foreign places together.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Take every opportunity that comes your way. You will likely only get the opportunity to study abroad once in your life, so make the most of it! The semester flies by so fast, so try the new food, talk with the locals, go for a walk around your neighborhood, swim in the sea, and travel on the weekends! Take the time to appreciate the moment you are living in because it will be over before you know it. Finally, reach out to Bennies and Johnnies who have done your program before. They have been in your shoes and have lots of recommendations and advice to help make your semester unforgettable!!