Kaylie Bednarczyk '18

Program: Bosnia and Herzegovina Summer Internship

Major: Biology and Peace Studies

Minor: Psychology

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

I've always enjoyed traveling and learning about different cultures. I am hoping to go into global public health and needed to complete an internship for my peace studies major. Through the Balkans program I was able to complete my required internship while also having the opportunity to learn and explore a different culture in a unique way. While I have traveled and been abroad with CSB/SJU before, I have always been in countries that primarily speak English. In this way, I choose this program to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone and grow further.

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

One cultural experience that made a lasting impression on me was coffee. I know that sounds a bit odd, but coffee is an experience in the Balkans. As I would visit families throughout my internship, we would often be served Turkish coffee, and Turkish coffee is a process. I can remember the day my coworkers taught me how to make it, and how they beamed when I learned how to make it correctly. Some of the best conversations I had were over coffee with my coworkers and friends.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall my experience in the Balkans was better than I could have possibly imagined. I made lasting friendships with people from across the globe and learned more about the world than I had through any other experience. Living and interning in a post-war community taught me a great deal about human resilience and truly inspired me.

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?

Going abroad has benefited me in so many ways. I am confident in my problem solving skills as well as resourcefulness. Additionally I have increased my awareness and openness to all sorts of cultures. Academically I have truly started to value what it means to have a liberal arts education. Interning in an NGO abroad has helped me discover my professional interest in public health and community well-being. Overall, going abroad has benefited me tremendously, learning both about myself and about cultures around the world. Any experience abroad opens your eyes to the common humanity shared by people across the globe.

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

Do it. Studying or interning abroad might sound overwhelming but it is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. Make sure to read up a bit on the country or culture you are going to and remember to have an open mind. Going abroad will not be an experience you regret!