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June Abigail Mazon '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
As a commuter student, studying abroad was my first experience of living somewhere other than in the comforts of my home. I am interested to serve as an International Ambassador because I would like to share my experiences from the perspective of someone who left her comfort zone and immersed herself into a completely new culture. I would also like to give back to my study abroad experience by helping future study abroad students in clarifying questions and keeping them relaxed throughout the process.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
When deciding my program location, I immediately knew I wanted to study somewhere that would allow me to learn a new language. Since I took Spanish in high school, I decided I would learn a different language at SCU; Italian was my first choice since it was similar to Spanish. Since I was taking Italian classes, I felt that going to Rome would help me become more fluent in the beautiful language. Rome's rich culture drew me in, not to mention its reputation for delicious cuisine. I chose to study with IES Rome, which was joined with SCU, because it housed students in apartments with Italian Student Companions (ISCs). I felt this was a good way to immerse myself with the culture since I would be integrated with Italians. Living in apartments also allowed me to learn how to get around Rome, since we had to commute to school.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
Since I've had many defining moments in my time here in Rome, I'll just describe my first defining moment, which was my first week here. Transitioning into a new culture was a challenge, but not too difficult. I remember having to recall Italian phrases that escaped my mind during the summer, trying to figure out how to get around the city, while also meeting new people and getting settled in my apartment. It was a really hectic week! Yet, the thrill of this new adventure made the transition easier. I, surprisingly, was not homesick.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
I would recommend prospective students to know a little of the language and culture of the country they are studying in. I found that just studying one year of Italian really helped me get around Rome and it also helped me communicate with the other tenants that lived in the same apartment building. Knowing key phrases will also help you get around when you first arrive - I remember I had to use some Italian around the airport when I first arrived. I would also recommend prospective students to really take in the culture of the country in order for that country to be your second home. Keep an open mind and enjoy every moment abroad!