Elizabeth Hamak ’24

Program: Italy Semester

Major: Communication & Theology

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

I chose to study abroad to have new experiences and expand my worldview in order to become a better student, friend, and person. I wanted to meet new people and live in another country when I had the time and resources. I chose Italy for the classes, culture, and people. The Rome program felt like just the right fit for me and what I was looking for in a study abroad experience.

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

I became friends with the bartenders at the local cafe below our school. Most mornings, I would go in for a cappuccino and croissant to start my day. One evening, they invited myself and a friend on my trip to go out with them after their shift ended. My friend and I spoke English, one bartender spoke both English and Italian, and the other 2 only spoke Italian. Although we had to translate between the 5 of us, we learned so much about each other and our cultures; both the similarities and differences. The language barrier was present, but it was evident that our shared humanity had brought us together. I cherish my time with those people and am grateful for the cross-cultural friendships created abroad.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was great! Living in a new country felt like a fever dream at first (in a good way!), but it was truly eye-opening and life changing. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and there were challenging moments, but that’s life. I was constantly learning and growing and am excited to use the skills I gained back at home.

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?

Taking a break from ‘regular’ life, I think, is a really good thing to do in order to assess what is important to you and why. In addition, and most obviously, seeing the world is so important to one’s growth and development as a human being and global citizen. Personally, I feel much more educated and informed after studying abroad. Academically, I took courses that are outside my major(s) and normal course of study, which challenged me to think deeper and more critically. Professionally, I feel better equipped to handle obstacles that may come my way, and to work with anyone.

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

Definitely go! It will be a great experience for you, and you get to make it so. Realize that there will be challenges, but we are all here to support you. Use your resources and make the most of it because you’ll never have another experience like it.