Santa Clara University

Julie Gamez '12

Peer Advisor: Workshop Series Coordinator

 

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
 
Last year when I was going through the study abroad process I came across a lot of obstacles that almost stopped me from studying abroad. Between changing my study abroad location, receiving mixed emotions from my parents about my desire to study abroad and struggling to fund my study abroad program all on my own, by the time school ended in June I was still unsure whether I would be able to study abroad. However, after receiving the Gilman Scholarship things seemed to fall into place and I was off to Seville, Spain in September. With that said, I would really like to use these experiences to help and support other students as they come across their own obstacles while trying to figure out study abroad. Since coming back from Spain, I have also come to realize how much of an impact studying abroad has had in my life in both my maturity level and the confidence I have in myself. I would undoubtedly say that it has been one of the best decisions I have made. I ultimately want to become an International Ambassador so that I can share my experiences with other students who are thinking of studying abroad and serve as someone they can go to for advice and support.
 
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
 
When the study abroad process began, I knew I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. One of my main goals for study abroad was to improve my Spanish and become more comfortable and more fluent in the language. I ultimately chose Spain because my dad is from Spain and I wanted to become more immersed in my own culture. I ultimately chose Seville for a number of reasons. One, I wanted a program that was not filled with Santa Clara students because I wanted to distance myself from my life in the United States as much as possible in order to be more immersed in the environment I was in. Another reason Seville was the perfect choice for me was because although it is a big city, it is not huge and still has a town quality to it. Finally, I also wanted to go to Seville because it is in Andalucia in the south of Spain. My dad is from the south of Spain and I felt a strong connection to this part of Spain and so it made sense to me that I would spend my time abroad in Seville.
 
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
 
It is difficult to choose one moment that was defining for me because to me my entire experience abroad has come to be a defining moment in my life thus far. However, one moment that was particularly important was the 6 day trip I took to Italy during the first week of December with two friends. This was my first time going on a trip without family where I was traveling to a country where I did not know the language. It was also the first time where transportation and hotels were not all figured out beforehand. Although we came across a number of other unforeseen obstacles, everything worked out fine in the end and I had an amazing time. After coming back from that trip I started realizing just how much I had matured and grown since being abroad. Of course I was fully capable to taking care of myself and doing things on my own beforehand, however I was very uncertain of myself and lacked confidence in myself. Although I continue to have insecurities (who doesn t?), that trip showed me that I was more capable than I had thought I was.
 
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
 
As far as what I could have done differently before going abroad, I can honestly say that I do not think there was anything more I could have done. Besides having to get a few things together before gong abroad, I think studying abroad is something you have to throw yourself into. However, after having completed my study abroad experience, I do wish I had taken advantage of more opportunities that my program offered, for example, volunteering and language assistant opportunities. But despite the few things I had wished I had done I am still more than happy with my study abroad experience.