Sophie Kelly ’24

Program: Italy Semester

Major: Sociology

Minor: Psychology

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

I have been looking forward to studying abroad since my tour at CSB. I had always dreamed of living on the beach and learning to surf, so last year I enrolled in Australia. Unfortunately, there were no other Bennies on the trip. I decided to look at my other options. Even though I did not have much interest in going to Europe I applied to Rome because they had an amazing cohort. I had all the intentions of dropping one of the programs, but I never did!

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

I loved meeting new people and trying new foods, but my favorite place in Rome was our local cafe (Lumiere’s). I’m addicted to coffee, so I would stop in once or twice a day to grab a cappuccino and chat with the workers. Over the semester we became friends. A few other members of my study abroad and I would go out with them and really connected on more than a surface level. It was nice to walk in the cafe and have the workers greet me by name. Lumiere’s made Rome feel a little more like home!

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall study abroad exceeded my expectations! As I mentioned before, I had very little interest in traveling to Europe. I am not much of a city person; I typically prefer to be surrounded by nature. However, over the four months I visited 9 countries and really grew to appreciate not only Italy but all of Europe. There is no doubt the experience was fast paced, and jam packed with adventure. I would not change a thing! Despite living in a mega apartment with 14 girls, we all got along great! I met amazing people I otherwise would not have crossed paths with and made friendships that will last long beyond our study abroad experience.

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?

I think it is easy to see how professionally studying aboard is a great resume builder. Academically widening your world view is extremely beneficial. For me however, studying abroad was so important for my personal development. Like many students from CSB+SJU I grew up not too far from campus and I have only ever lived in Minnesota. Going abroad was a chance to experience true independence. I had to navigate, new places, relationship, money, and travel on my own. It forced me to grow up, think about my values, and make educated decisions.

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

Please do it. I am obsessed with this school it was so hard to make the decision to leave. However, I promise it is worth it! Personally, one of the biggest barriers to my journey abroad was finances. My parents sat me down and asked what I had been saving my money for? They told me, “You save money for experiences like this” having the opportunity to live in another country for four months will not come along again… so take my advice and just GO!!