Paige Folkerts '20

Program: South Africa Spring Semester

Major: Biology


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

My mother always told me that her biggest regret is not studying abroad in college. I love to travel and a quality study abroad program was at the top of my requirement list when deciding on a college. I chose South Africa because it was a program that offered many different experiences and would push me out of my comfort zone. Also, they had a really cool marine biology course.

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

Spending the night in one of the township communities in Cape Town opened my eyes to how the poor live. Even though they do not have a lot of money, they are satisfied with life and make do with what they have. Also, they were so willing and eager to have us stay with them. All eleven of the grandchildren sleep in the same room (smaller than a dorm room) but never have any complaints. It was inspirational.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

AMAZING!!!! I met so many wonderful people and made lasting connections. Although we went to class, I learned so much more by being out in the communities and experiencing the different culture. I experienced many aspects of self-growth and exploration. I also got to experience the beauty of the safari landscape, along with the mountains and the ocean.

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?

Studying abroad truly allows you to experience life as an adult. There is no living on campus with a meal plan. You are treated as an adult and given full freedom to explore all aspects of the culture. Although it may not be obvious, there is exponential self-growth in being immersed in a new culture. Classes abroad also offer a different perspective and style, demanding academic flexibility. Further, being surrounded by different cultures and customs allows for needed adaptation in different situations, such as in a professional setting.

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

Just do it! The pros outweigh the cons without comparison. Loans can be paid back, but there is no payback for regret. Travel is the best way to expand your horizons. There are so many different cultures to experience. There is so much the world has to offer, but you must explore the world to find its treasures.