Maggie McConville, ’25

Program: Chile

Major: Communication

Minor: Hispanic Studies, Political Science


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

I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to expand my view of the world outside of Minnesota, but also because I love meeting new people and exploring new places. I chose the Chile program because I wanted to develop my Spanish-speaking skills, and I couldn't think of another time in my life when I would have the chance to explore Latin America for five months in such an immersive way.

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

I think attending a Chilean university was something super crazy that I didn't quite expect to have as much of an impact as it did. University life in Latin America was SO vastly different from anything I've seen in the United States, and it also really allowed me to develop real, lifelong friendships with Chilean students through courses, extracurriculars, and social life. Immersing yourself in the culture is one thing, but being able to experience it with people your own age is something totally different and really special.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Incredible. Amazing. Would do it over a million times. I was in Viña Del Mar, Chile, and I had the opportunity to live with a host family, who I absolutely adore and still talk to every day. I was directly enrolled in a Chilean university which allowed me to meet tons of local friends and international students who I explored Latin America and Chile with.

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?

You meet people from all over the world which offers you a dozen new perspectives on family, relationships, your professional experiences, priorities, independence, and everything else. Having the opportunity to experience a culture that is nearly completely opposite from the one I grew up in allowed me to expand my idea of the "ideal" way of life and determine new priorities for myself moving forward. It also offered the opportunity for self-growth and personal development in a way I don't think I will ever see again.

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

Say yes! To as much as you can, say yes and lean into the difference with everything you got. It can be scary to try something new and we all know that, but if you only partially experience something because you were holding back out of fear, you are missing out on so much. Give 100% of yourself to the culture, experiences, and relationships you find abroad as you only have a short time to develop them-- your life in Saint Joe will be waiting for you when you come back!