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Jason Su '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I really enjoyed my time abroad, and made good use of the opportunities I had to travel, meet new people, experience different foods, languages, and cultures in whole. My experience was rather unique compared to most Santa Clara students who travel to a European country, and i think i can give a good representation of what traveling to Central/Eastern Europe is like for students who are interested.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I wanted my experience abroad to be an adventure. I knew nothing about Budapest, Hungary before I chose it as my city of study, in fact the months leading up to studying abroad, I chose to limit the amount of research I could have done on the culture and location. I wanted to submerse myself in a place completely foreign to anywhere i had ever been or any idea i had ever imagined. I did these things to challenge myself as a traveler, a student, and an adult.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
I was talking to one of my program-mates from the University of North Carolina and we were on the topic of how different our lives were compared to peoples of the same age in Hungary (Hungary being a developing country, previously under the control of the Soviet Union). She said that she felt a large amount of guilt when she had gotten more familiar with some of the locals because of the differences in wealth between our two cultures and how that limited their respective lifestyles. And when she asked my thoughts on the topic I said, not having experienced that situation yet, that instead of guilt I thought the emotion I would feel would be gratefulness for everything I had been given in my life. It was a week night when I decided to stay in and study for Hungarian language test I had the next day, and as I was in the process I began to talk to my friend who was a local from Budapest. Our conversation managed to dive deeper than average small-talk (which I also discovered differs between cultures) and it was at that time when I thought back to that first conversation I had with my American friend. I found myself fully realizing the differences that money, economic status, and mobility bring to people of different countries. There were many moments of significance that I could have written about, but I chose this because I believe it accurately depicts the vast potential students studying abroad have and the many opportunities that we have and often take for granted.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
To prospective abroad students, I would say in deciding, preparing for, and choosing a location and culture to study in, make sure to challenge yourself in these processes. In the months before leaving, get a good idea, of the type of person you are socially and intellectually. Get to know a bit more about your strengths and flaws and how you would like to grow as a person, student, and world traveler. While abroad take risks, and don't be afraid to lose yourself, let your experiences change you for the better, and always take on new adventures with some enthusiasm.