Maggie is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to go abroad as a Sophomore to be challenged. I also saw an opportunity to get ahead professionally and London was the perfect place to do that. My dream is to work in Major League Baseball and in order to do that I have to find ways to place myself above the competition. Having been informed that only 1% of college students have an internship abroad, I was determined to take this once in a lifetime opportunity. Now that it is all said and done, the experience was even more crucial and informative than I ever could have imagined and I am so excited to share my story with others.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Coming from a small town and attending college 10 minutes from my home, I felt I was never exposed to certain challenges that many others spoke of or struggled with. While abroad, I learned you can never judge a culture based off a first impression or three day trip. After about a month of travel I realized I needed to change my mindset. For example, I traveled to the beautiful country of Spain twice. And the two trips could not have been more different in every way. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is something I do not just with places I go but when meeting new people or even something as simple as trying new food. In my eyes, this was a lesson that will impact me for the rest of my life. It is impossible not to make judgments, but being aware and keeping an open mind is key to a healthy life.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My experience was exactly like the rollercoaster the ambassadors at my send off spoke of, and boy oh boy I had no idea how accurate that would turn out to be! I struggled in the beginning; did not know many of my classmates, wasn't used to the "hustle and bustle" of the city, felt overwhelmed with the inconsistent schedule, and so on. One thing I did learn very early on is that it is okay to say no. Health and fitness is a top priority in life and I knew I had to make time and stay true to what is important to me, even if others don't understand. On the other hand, after walking all day in Rome (40,000 steps!!!) it is okay to skip the gym and eat a giant plate of pasta. It is all about balance. I would say to students about to start their journey to always be open to different adventures but remember to take time for yourself.
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?
In my opinion, knowing what you do not want in life is just as important, if not more important, than knowing what you do. My internship was great and the people were welcoming and kind, but I can say that it provided me with a lot more than just a broader understanding of the business world. My whole life I thought sports marketing was my calling, and halfway through my internship I came to the realization that I did not enjoy sitting at a desk all day and I was not patient enough. I missed interacting with people and being out and about. Now a few months later, I can joyfully say I am currently interning in a Public Relations role that I absolutely love. I have London to thank for showing me what I failed to notice prior to my time abroad.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I say without a doubt do it. It is going to be challenging, you are going to miss home, but you will learn valuable and priceless lessons that will impact the way you life your life forever. And most importantly, you will have a 30-40 new friends that know you better than some family or friends from back home. Even if turns out to not be for you, at the very least, it is an experience you can talk about in an interview or cool new Facebook profile picture.