Madison is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greece & Italy.
Major: Integrative Health Sciences
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I came to St. Ben’s I had no intentions of Studying abroad. However, I decided that the programs CSB/SJU offers are too great of an experience to pass up. I did a lot of research into multiple programs and ended up picking this one because it would allow me to live in and experience more countries than my other options. The Greco-Roman program allows students to become fully immersed in both Greece and Rome and allows for both independent and group travel. I was able to see much of Greece and Italy besides the cities I called home and travel out of the countries as well. It was great to explore Greece when it was warm enough to swim on the islands, and to explore Vatican City during Christmas time.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The Greek’s value hospitality very much, and while we were here, we felt so welcomed. Whenever we would go to cafes or tavernas we would be treated like family. This was especially so at our go-to local café, Kekkos. Towards the beginning of our trip, we had a few birthdays to celebrate. We told the owner we would be stopping by to say hi later. When we came by later, he had re-arranged his entire café to make a banquet table, topped with decorations. He brought out two cakes decorated with their names and sang and celebrated with us. Kekko’s, as well as many other people in Greece, treated us unbelievable generosity and hospitality that made us feel so welcome.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
The four months I spent in Europe were the best of my life. I experienced tremendous personal growth through a gain of confidence, cultural competency, and close relationships. I was able to experience eight countries, and countless cities in these countries. I tried new foods and danced to new music and spoke in new languages. I have immeasurable gratitude for the places and new faces that this trip brought me.
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 time abroad- no matter how long- is the perfect environment for personal growth. I gained confidence, made some of my closest friends, and gained cultural competency tenfold. I took classes that are outside of my major, which provided excellent progress toward the holistic liberal arts education St. Bens promotes.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
There is absolutely no other time in your life that you could find an experience quite like this. It is life changing- and so absolutely worth leaving your comfort zone.