#GoGlobal with CSB/SJU
January 26, 2022
By Hanna Sobhani ‘22
Between St. Joe and Collegeville, there is a world of opportunity at your fingertips. As a senior who has completed two study abroad experiences through CSB/SJU, I can confidently say that studying abroad is one of the most engaging ways to develop personal and global skills. Last semester, I studied abroad in Athens, Greece as part of the first cohort to study in Greece for an entire semester. The city was the classroom, whether I was learning about Socrates at the Agora archaeological site or ordering a gyro in Greek. In my neighborhood of Pagkrati, it was a four-minute walk to class, which was right next to the original modern Olympic stadium (a great spot to run). I filled my stomach with Greek salad, pastitsio, and moussaka. My adventures took me all over Greece—from the southern island of Crete to the second-highest peak on Mt. Olympus. While exploring Athens, there is something so satisfying about confidently using the metro or bus. My peers and I were surprised by how we took initiative and became more independent. Living and sharing the experience with fellow Bennies and Johnnies grounded me as I became acquainted with Greece, and the relationships I made will last me a lifetime! Placing myself in the unfamiliar pushed me out of my comfort zone, and as a result, I learned more about myself than I could’ve anywhere in Minnesota.
Living abroad puts you in situations you had not previously imagined. CSB junior Ashlee Vyskocil studied abroad in Athens and left with some lasting impacts, “Studying abroad personally gave me the unique opportunity to be surrounded by a culture, a language, and a society that was different from my own. For once in my life, I was an outsider. That has probably been the biggest reflective piece of my abroad experience I am still grappling with today. When I came home, I had changed. I want more in life than I ever thought I did. I want to travel! Because of this experience, I am considering post-graduation opportunities abroad to continue to grow and become a “world-traveler, or so my family teases me.” It is common to suppose studying abroad will allow you “find yourself,” and I cannot promise you will completely, but it will be an experience of self-discovery and awareness in ways you did not expect.
Senior Johnnie James Moua studied abroad in Japan and highlighted its takeaway on his CSB/SJU experience, “Before going abroad, I still felt quite shy and nervous when meeting new people. This was something I became more comfortable doing after going abroad as I made various new friends from countries all over the world who were studying abroad as well. It changed my experience on campus as I came back from abroad feeling eager to get involved on campus and meet new faces. Overall, my experience here at CSB/SJU wouldn't have been the same if I had never studied abroad. There may have been experiences on campus I missed out on but being abroad made up for the missed time with the unforgettable memories I got in return.”
While abroad in London, senior Johnnie Nicholas Olberding noted how only knowing a few people in his program helped push him out of his comfort zone which importantly led to more personal and professional growth. Studying abroad also changed his outlook of home, “London made me appreciate the community on campus and how it extends across borders. It also prepared me to take the final step for college and move on in the world; I feel ready to move my skills elsewhere.”
The Athens program is one of many CSB/SJU programs that provide students with experiential learning abroad. In my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile, where I found a second home with my host family and developed a lifetime love for Latin America. Chileans are incredibly hospitable, and my improved Spanish skills will allow me to connect with a countless number of people in the future. Recognizing the improvement of my Spanish speaking and comprehension as I spoke at the picturesque Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and to my host family was one of my proudest accomplishments abroad. In addition to my host family, I traveled with a wonderful CSB/SJU cohort and met some of my best friends. Connecting with locals and exploring the diverse climate and culture of Chile and South America tailored my sense of adventure.
My experiences in Chile and Greece were distinct, and I immensely enjoyed and grew from both. There is no right or wrong abroad program, just what is best for you! Living in another country is exciting, enriching, and entertaining. You gain a temporary experience that impacts how you see the world and whatever you consider home. CSB/SJU also offers short-term programs and scholarships in hopes that every student finds the right fit. After studying abroad, I do not believe it is possible to return to who I was before. The confidence and skills I have developed abroad have made all the difference in how I carry myself. That said, I hope you go global with CSB/SJU.