Emma Culhane '21

Program: Chile Fall Semester

Major: Biology and Hispanic Studies


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

I knew before even coming to college that I wanted to study abroad. CSB/SJU had great programs which is one of the reasons I came here. I loved the idea of not just traveling to a country but actually being able to live there. I choose my program because I love being outside. Chile is a beautiful country and extremely diverse in its landscapes. I also loved the idea of living with a host family.

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

My first weekend in Chile my host mom asked me if I wanted to go to Santiago with her, her daughter and her granddaughter. I of course said yes, not because I was super excited but because I didn't think I had an option. We left for Santiago Saturday morning and were going to return Sunday night. While there I met her oldest granddaughter who showed me around Santiago. Her name is Mari and she's around my age. We had so much fun together. That night we went to a party with my host mom that was anything but normal. It was spectacular, they had an opera singer, amazing food and a whole floor just for their apartment. I danced and ate all night. It was the first moment in my study abroad experience that I knew I could do it. I could be in this country with this family for four months and be perfectly happy. When I got to class that Monday my director Dr. Livingston told me that he had heard I went to Santiago with my host family. He told me that I was brave and bold for doing that. Stunned I was because I didn't think I had a choice but looking back I can't imagine not having that first weekend in Santiago with the woman I now call my Chilean mom and who I talk to almost once a week. The lasting impression for me is that I will always have the memories and I will always have her.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

One word: incredible. It was an experience I will never forget. The people from CSB/SJU that I met there are now people I hangout with everyday here. I still keep in contact with my amazing host mom and her granddaughter. I have seen things that I never I thought I would like Machu Picchu, Patagonia and the Atacama desert. I can't imagine not having been there.

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?

There are so many benefits, learning about a different culture, having friends and family all over the world, learning different languages. Being truly independent in another country. Learning how to get around, travel and push yourself.

What advice can you offer for CSB+SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

It’s hard at first. It is. But the end result is what makes it all worth it. The experiences you lived and can look back on. The friends and family you made who you will always be able to talk to. It is a big decision but it’s a great one.