Victoria is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greece & Italy
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because it seemed like the perfect - perhaps only - opportunity I would have to live in and be immersed in a culture that was drastically different from my own. A philosophy class I had taken freshman year had drawn me to Athens. Plus, I've always wanted to spend time on the coast of the Mediterranean.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
We had various opportunities with flexible hours to volunteer during our time in Athens and Rome. Greece is an essential gateway for Middle Eastern refugees to access the rest of Europe for aid. Despite their current socioeconomic crisis, granted not on the scale it should be, Athenian outreach programs aim to feed, clothe, and support refugees in Athens. Working first hand with the refugees in a local soup kitchen increased my own sense of moral obligation to help others in need. This experience forced me to reevaluate my plans upon graduation and think critically about what else I can be doing to benefit humanity itself.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Every moment was a learning experience - in class, traveling independently, and socially interacting with the culture. I was pushed outside my comfort zone and gained confidence where it was lacking. There were tough times, absolutely, but even from those we all grew from and created our own community abroad.
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?
What I especially enjoyed about the Greco-Roman program is that we were able to live in two countries for decent periods of time. The change of scenery renewed excitement of living abroad as well as helped with homesickness. As a science major I'm not exposed to the humanities courses as much on campus. So studying abroad was an excellent way to finish of generals and experience first hand the history, art, and religion of the sites we visited. We definitely spent more time on site than in the classroom which was extremely valuable to our learning abroad. I also learned a lot of skills in problem solving, communication, and cultural competency which are valuable to employers. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly was my personal growth abroad. I've learned so much about myself and the type of person I want to be moving forward. My experiences both challenged my belief system and strengthened it through giving me an outside perspective of my own cultural identity back home.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
You will definitely come out of this experience a different person, which is in no way a bad thing. I would have regretted not participating in this experience and would 100% do it again.