Caitlin Shaw ’24

Program: Italy Semester

Major: Biology

Minor: Psychology

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

I chose to study abroad in order to more fully experience the liberal arts nature of my education. Being a Biology major, it can be easy to forget that I go to a liberal arts school, and I wanted to take this opportunity to fully dive into another side of education that I was not really experiencing on campus. I chose the Rome program specifically because I have always wanted to travel to Rome, and the classes offered on this program allowed me to fully immerse myself in both the Italian culture while simultaneously fulfilling many of my integrations curriculum requirements.

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

Every day was genuinely a new cultural experience while abroad. One experience that comes to mind is when a group of my friends and I traveled to Venice for the weekend. It was the first small group trip that we were taking, and it was nerve-racking to be traveling across a foreign country by ourselves, but once we got to Venice, it was absolutely worth it! Taking this trip allowed me to see how diverse the cultural experience can be even within the same country, as Venice was very different compared to Rome, and it made me more comfortable traveling overall!

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall, my experience studying abroad was life-altering. I was able to live in Rome, a city I have always dreamed of going to, while learning so much about the Italian culture and the city itself. I was able to learn on-site multiple times a week, which allowed me to see artwork and churches I was learning about up-close. The Rome study abroad program truly emphasizes experiential learning, as you are able to see places both in Rome, and around Italy, as you learn about them.

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 forces you to constantly be outside of your comfort zone. You learn how to adapt to situations you may not have thought you would ever be in, and you learn how to interact with new people daily. Studying abroad has allowed me to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I am now more confident interacting with people I may not know very well, and I am much more confident in my independence and decision-making! Studying abroad has also allowed me to learn in new ways both in and out of the classroom, as culture and teaching styles differed abroad.

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

Do it! Deciding to study abroad may seem daunting, I know, but it is well worth the risk! Go into your abroad experience with an open mind and be willing to adapt and try new things in order to get the most out of your experience!