Kirsten is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy and Greece
Major: Nutrition Dietetics
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
One of my chief goals in college was is to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone. I wanted to test my ability to cope with uncomfortable situations. The Roman-Greco study abroad program was the perfect opportunity to fulfill my goal because it placed me in a brand new environment with culture, language, customs, cuisine and many other aspects that are unlike the comfortable environment that I live in today. The Roman-Greco program sways away from the traditional, on-site classroom setting, and allows students to explore beyond the classroom. I knew that The Roman-Greco program would satisfy most of my remaining common curriculum courses including my fine arts, intercultural, experiential learning, humanities, and theology credits and would allow me to complete them in a unique way. The Roman-Greco program helped to keep me on track to graduate by satisfying these credits in two different countries, and other than the Greco-Roman program, I would not have the same opportunities.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One experience that made a lasting impression was one in a coffee shop just down the street from my apartment in Athens, Greece. The owner of the coffee shop made me feel extremely welcome in Greece. He genuinely cared about my experience there and showed it by giving advice and constantly asking how I was doing. He even took the time to learn some of our names and thanked us by giving out free treats from their bakery when we came in to talk and order coffee. This is just one of the many examples of the hospitable and friendly Greeks throughout my experience.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I truly believe that I am a changed person after studying abroad through the Roman-Greco program. Rome, Italy and Athens, Greece where nothing but beautiful and these places quickly became home. Rome and Athens taught me about myself and the world in ways that one could never experience without going. With constant education while traveling, there was never a chance to get bored and there was always something new to learn and experience. The Roman-Greco program challenged me to cope with unfamiliar environments and situations because right when we got comfortable with Roman culture, we were transported to the Greek culture. This program guided me to grow as an individual in becoming more independent, adaptable and flexible.
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?
The Roman-Greco study abroad program expanded and diversified my learning as I experienced courses in a different way than I could on campus at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. A goal of mine was to challenge my academics in learning to think outside the box by using critical thinking, and what better way to fulfill that goal than to learn in an environment of cultures and customs that are foreign to me. This program allowed me to develop my learning through visual and hands-on experiences and be entirely present with my learning. I believe I now stand out as an individual in regard to setting myself apart from the mainstream and allowing me to get ahead of other individuals. This program will help me to build cross cultural communication skills, which is helpful to someone who will be regularly conversing with others. Being exposed to cultures outside my own will be an important advantage to my future profession in the culturally diverse America
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Having doubts and being scared or nervous is okay. I guarantee you that all of my fellow classmates who have studied abroad (along with myself) went through it as well. Try to push yourself. Never be afraid to ask questions and reach out. We are here to help you through the scary decision and application process and even far beyond that. If you are even considering, apply. Studying abroad as a college student is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will not regret it.