Madison is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Minor: Hispanic Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have always loved learning Spanish and I knew the second that I was accepted to CSB/SJU that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. I chose to study abroad because it offered me the opportunity to use Spanish every day and to greatly improve my fluency in the language. I chose Chile instead of Guatemala or Spain because I have always wanted to travel to South America. I wanted to experience a very different culture from my own and to face the challenge of Chile’s unique Spanish, since Chileans speak very fast and use a lot of slang words not used in any other Spanish-speaking country. I did research on the three programs and I wanted to experience Chile’s cultural practices and to have the ability to travel to all parts of the country.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I will never forget the amazing Chilean friends that I made while I was in Chile. On September 19, my Chilean friend hosted a Chilean Barbecue (asado) for some of my CSB/SJU friends and I in honor of Chile’s National Independence Day. His family was very kind to host us in their home and they catered to us with serving us traditional Chilean drinks and food such as choripan (chorizo sausage and bread) and steak. We listened to Spanish music and immersed ourselves into the Chilean culture. We shared our United States culture with them by teaching our Chilean friends how to make Smores, which they have never had before. They loved them! I loved that we were able to share our cultural traditions with each other. This day marked the day that I felt truly immersed in the Chilean culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I cannot say one bad thing about my experience in Chile. I loved my experience and I wish every day that I could go back. There were days that were very challenging with trying to communicate my ideas in Spanish, but I worked through them and I believe these challenges strengthened my experience. I made amazing friends within my CSB/SJU group and with local Chileans. I believe these friendships will last a lifetime. Each day in Chile represented a new memory to be made and a personal growing experience.
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?
Studying abroad has allowed me to develop more self-confidence in myself and more independence. It changed me to become a stronger individual and to be able to better handle stressful situations. My Spanish has greatly improved by having the ability to speak Spanish every day for the entire day. The main way I improved my Spanish was by having simple conversations with my Chilean host family and friends, rather than from the traditional classroom setting. In addition, I want to become a Physician Assistant to help all patients in need. I want to use the Spanish I have learned to help patients who only speak Spanish here in the USA and abroad. Studying abroad has changed me forever and it represents my most eye-opening semester to the world.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Study abroad! Studying abroad represents one of the best experiences of my life and I wish I could go back. You learn so much about yourself and it gives you a better interpretation of the world around you. If you have the ability to study abroad, I would do it. I would make sure to research the programs in-depth to figure out which program is the best for you. Also, while you are abroad, do not take any day for granted. Go out and explore the country every day and experience everything that you can because it goes by fast.