Nicholas Gonzales

­­­­Nicholas is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Italy & Greece

Major: Psychology

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I knew coming into college that I wanted an option to study abroad. I looked at other programs as well but decided on Roman-Greco because first, I would get to live in and experience two countries and second, the classes would help me finish the common curriculum requirements I had left. I've always wanted to visit Rome and Athens because of the history, religion, and mythology. I then decided that this would be the perfect fit for me and applied for the program.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

In Rome, going to the papal audience was amazing because at first we were able to have a mass underground St. Peter's Basilica and then could walk around it while it was completely empty. Then seeing the pope drive around in his popemobile and the huge crowd there to see him. Then in Athens, on marathon day, there were four people in our group who ran the full marathon. Some volunteered during the day on certain checkpoints and the rest were in the Panathenaic Stadium to cheer on the runners crossing the finish line. It was a great day of us showing support for those people who ran.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

The whole experience is one I will never forget. The academics were intriguing while also being a bit challenging but the professors abroad were great at helping the students. Our program leaders were basically like a second set of parents because they were always there for us if we had any problems, invited us to dinners, and would easily converse with any of us outside the classroom; could easily tell that they truly cared about us. My favorite part about this program were the weekend excursions because we would see these beautiful places while also learning about its history from the guides. On weekends that we didn't have excursions, some of us would still go to other places in the country for independent travel because it was so easy to. I loved my experience because the amount of places I went to and the new friends I made during it.

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?

CSB/SJU is only about an hour away from my house which is convenient if I needed to go back home for anything. Studying abroad for almost four months gets you away from what you are comfortable with. Experiencing a new culture and living in the heart of the city helps you grow in many different ways. You have to interact with people who have lived in these cities their whole life and how to navigate the area. This program also helps you stand out to future employers by showing that you aren't afraid to experience things you aren't used to and and how to handle that.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad? Don't hesitate to study abroad. It can be intimidating thinking of being away for so long but it is completely worth it. The time goes by fast but it is fun to experience and live in a different country with a great group of people.