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Rebecca Gonzalez '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I would have to say that International Ambassadors are key in helping students decide what program they want to choose. I want to be able to serve as a resource for other students that are thinking about studying abroad, especially those interested in studying in Spain. I feel that I have learned a lot while my time abroad and I want to be able to share my experiences and advice with others.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
Since I am a heritage Spanish speaker, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Spain. I chose Spain over Latin America because I wanted to improve my knowledge on Castellano Spanish as opposed to Mexican Spanish. I chose the Barcelona program because it fit with my interests such as the location, the soccer team FC Barcelona, and its Catalan culture. It was also a great choice since it was an SCU program so the classes I took abroad would count for my major and core requirements. This was important for me since I have specific classes that I need to fulfill for graduation.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
The overall fact that I was going to study abroad was itself a defining moment as it was the first time that I was going to be away from my family. Santa Clara is only a 30 minute drive from my house so this would be the first time I would be away for more than a month away from the comfort of my home. Being away from home had forced me to live on my own and independently. I had to travel alone to places of interests which before seemed imaginable. I developed more compassion towards immigrants while my time abroad. I realized how hard it is to be in a different country and not know how things work or just simply how to read the metro map. It helped me realize how sometimes we take the smallest things 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?
The first thing I would advice students is to research the country and specifically the city they want to study abroad in so they are aware of what is going on. For Barcelona, it was important for me to know that Catalan as a culture and language predominate the Spanish culture in that region. Another important piece of advice is to be open minded and to challenge yourself to experiences you have never thought of. Don t be afraid to put yourself out there and to take risks. Step out of your comfort zone to try new things. This includes avoiding the familiar McDonalds menu and trying out something from the local restaurant.