Justine is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy and Greece
Minor: Exercise Science and Sport Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad mostly because I wanted to experience new places, experiences, and cultures. I had not been out of the country much prior to studying abroad and wanted to truly immerse myself in the cultures of areas other than my own. It was the perfect chance to challenge myself in many aspects and to complete many of the common curriculum courses. In particular, the Roman-Greco program offered the the best combination of classes that I needed to complete. I also was drawn to the Roman-Greco program because I was able to obtain credit for my minor (Exercise-Science and Sport Studies) through our seminar class. The aspect of studying in two different countries really drew me to the program. Rome interested me due to my Catholic background and its rich history. Greece was always a place I have wanted to visit and it also has a deep history with which I was intrigued. I knew I wanted to go to Europe, and Rome and Greece were two countries from which I could easily travel to other countries. The large amount of excursions was also an element that helped me decide on the Roman-Greco program.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
For our Theology course in Athens, we had the opportunity to interview a Greek citizen about their faith and religion. I chose to interview a waiter at a restaurant in our neighborhood. During our interview, there were a few questions that the waiter did not fully understand, so he told me he would think about them and come back in ten minutes. After about an hour, I was sitting at my table studying and figured he had forgotten or did not want to answer the questions. However, I looked across the restaurant and he had actually stopped waiting tables and was sitting down with his phone, a pen, and a piece of paper. He was asking his coworkers for help and was using his phone to translate. He worked for a while before he came over to me later, as I was about to leave. He handed me a note and told me that he had written down his thoughts on his faith. The note itself had taken him nearly an hour to write and it was evident he had put a lot of effort into it. He told me that he hoped it would help. This type of great care and helpfulness is common among many of the Greek individuals I came across while in Athens. They often will go above and beyond what they need to in order to help others out. It is an experience I will always remember.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My experience abroad on the Roman-Greco program is one that I truly will never forget and one that cannot be accurately described. I was able to travel to eight different countries and see places I never thought I would be able to visit. During my time abroad, I learned that nothing is ever exactly how we expect it to be. In order to truly understand anything, including studying abroad, one has to experience it firsthand. The memories and experiences I had while abroad are some of the best of my life and are absolutely irreplaceable.
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 benefit of studying abroad is being able to see the places we have learned about so much in the past and be able to learn through firsthand experiences. During most of the classes, we were not in the classroom, but actually out in the city seeing churches, paintings, buildings, and historical sites in person rather than a picture in a textbook. Studying abroad teaches the importance of being flexible when situations do not go the way that you intended. It allows you to see the differences in which your own culture differs from those of other countries and ways in which they are similar. Studying abroad allows you to meet new people everyday and you will get to know the other CSB/SJU students really well and have 29 new friends because of that. The best way to learn is to make connections with ideas we have learned or experienced in the past and studying abroad allows new connections to be made everyday that I otherwise would not have been able to make.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My best advice is to start looking at what program you would most like to experience, and then apply. If you are considering studying abroad, just take the leap and go. It is likely your only chance at being able to spend four months in other countries. You will make a large group of lifelong friends and grow so much as a person while you are abroad.