Sarah Skrove, ’24

Program: Italy Semester

Major: Theology

Minor: Classics: Ancient Mediterranean Studies

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

I chose to study abroad so that I could learn more about myself and grow in independence. I wanted to go somewhere that would stretch me and force me to challenge myself through intentional immersion in a foreign culture. I decided on Rome partially because of my Catholic identity and the deep presence of Catholicism in Rome, and also because of the great group of people that I went abroad with. I am thankful for the connections that we made and the environment that allowed for it!

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

One specific cultural experience that I had on my program was talking to a woman who was vacationing in Rome and got her purse stolen at a restaurant. My family was visiting me, and we went out to eat near the Trevi fountain when a woman on the same patio as us jumped out of her chair and began frantically searching for her purse. Her husband ran down the street in search of the pickpocket, but didn’t have any luck finding them. He came back, paid for their meals, and headed to the police station to report the incident with one of the waiters. Meanwhile, the woman was hysterical. I went over to talk to her and try to console her, and I honestly wasn’t overly successful. However, I felt good just being able to talk to her in an environment where she was frustrated, having difficulty communicating with the waiters because of the language barrier, and feeling helpless after being robbed. I learned from that experience to continue to be aware of my belongings, and also to show compassion to people who might be in distress.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Study abroad was an experience that I was so lucky to be able to take advantage of. I spent my four months in Italy living outside of my comfort zone, traveling Europe, and creating deep and lasting friendships with my fellow CSB+SJU students. Every hour that I worked to be able to spend a semester abroad was completely worth it. While it might have been the hardest journey I have taken in my life, it was an experience full of personal growth, and for that I am extremely grateful.

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?

One of the benefits that I experienced from studying abroad was realizing how I wanted my future after graduation to look. For example, I realized that while Rome is beautiful and exciting, I personally wouldn’t want to live in a big city long-term. I also learned that even though it’s adventurous and thrilling to be far away from your family, that sense of independence can still be felt without being an ocean away. I grew to appreciate a closer proximity to my family, which I’m not sure would have been as easily realized without my experience abroad!

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

My advice for students considering a semester abroad would be to seek out a program that best fits your needs as a student, a traveler, and a developing professional. Even though a program might look fun or sound impressive, it should also contribute to your future goals and aspirations. Prioritize your wishes and you won’t be disappointed!