Sidney Christopherson '20
Program: France Fall Semester
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad in France because I absolutely adore the French culture and love the language, I've been learning it for nearly 8 years now and it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. French is also my minor.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I accidentally took some butter from the fridge in the cafeteria on the campus in Cannes, France, which was against the cultural norms since I was a newer guest there. After I had taken the butter (for my baguette of course) one of the lunch ladies put a chain and padlock on the fridge so nobody could go into it but she never said anything to me about it.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It was truly the experience of a lifetime, I am so happy that I was able to go study abroad. I made a bunch of new friends and visited three countries, and I'm even fluent enough in French to become a French Citizen!
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?
I think that spending the three and a half months away from my family or parents really helped me grow as a person. I had struggled with my mental health a lot my first semester at Saint Bens and it was so rough for me I had to take that following spring semester off. But I bounced back from that and got my GPA from a .5 to a 2.5-6 and was able to go on this study abroad trip and my semester GPA over there was a 3.3 which is the highest it's been since my sophomore year of high school! I was also able to reach out to new people and make friends with people from other cultures which wasn't something I would have even been able to do a year or two ago.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
If you get the opportunity, seize it!! It is so beneficial in every way imaginable. Just remember that it is study abroad not abroad study, so it's important to focus on school while still having a fun (and safe) time in a foreign country.