Maya is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Major: Biology, Pre-Dentistry
Student Athlete: CSB Softball
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I was younger, I had the opportunity to visit my older sister who was studying on the Spain semester program. I loved my first experience abroad, and I knew that it was something that I wanted to do one day. Initially, I had planned on doing a short term program because I play softball in the spring and did not want to miss out on any of the fall festivities on campus. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and applied for a semester program the week before forms were due. I had heard incredible things about the London program from friends, and the classes that were offered fit perfectly into my four year plan. The London program also gave me the opportunity to work for a non-profit through an International Service Internship.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the most culturally immersive parts of my time abroad was through my Service Internship. The non-profit that I worked for helped people with disabilities or vulnerabilities lead their own lives. I worked at three different locations, and it brought me to parts of the city that I never would have experienced as a tourist. Each office had its own unique vibe, and it was interesting to see how relaxed the workplace pace is. It was common to take frequent tea breaks throughout the day, and socialize with coworkers and customers. I was able to learn more about London from the perspective of a local and I have made lifelong connections with my coworkers.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad in London was the adventure of a lifetime. I spent four months exploring the city, and yet I feel like I left much of it untouched. My time was filled with visiting different markets and boroughs, attending various events, going to theater shows, and trying many new things. London itself is incredible, but the flexibility of the program allowed me to travel to several countries outside of the United Kingdom during my time abroad. I got to see parts of Europe that I never dreamed I would get to see, and created friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
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 a semester abroad transformed our group from simply classmates into a family. Living together in another country undoubtedly creates friendships and bonds that cannot be made on campus. In addition to making new friends, I gained a new sense of independence. Home was no longer within driving distance, and I learned to live without the safety net of a traditional college campus. I am a biology major who is studying pre-dentistry, so the classes I took in London helped me expand my liberal arts education. My service internship at the nonprofit that I worked for helped me reinforce my career path, and I will always be grateful for the experience that it gave me.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I know that it can seem intimidating to apply and spend a semester abroad, but I cannot recommend it enough. My best advice is to find a program that fits your interests, talk to ambassadors, and apply! It is a once and a lifetime experience getting to travel the world with classmates. You will not regret it!