Santa Clara University

Michael Caracciolo '13

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
Primarily, I want to encourage other students to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad. The past four months have been the most fun, fascinating, mind opening, and interesting time of my life and I believe every student, given the chance, should take this opportunity. I believe my unique experience in a Spanish immersion program where all my classes (Econ, Poli Sci, Religion, History) were in Spanish and I lived and interacted with Spanish students in a dorm gives me a distinct perspective of cultural immersion that I want to share.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
First, I wanted to travel in Europe. Second, I wanted to learn and speak Spanish. Third, I wanted to live in a small city. As a result, I narrowed my choices to Salamanca, Spain, and Granada, Spain. I ve been on immersion programs to Puebla, Mexico, and Nogales, Arizona with SCU because I like putting myself into unfamiliar surroundings and taking on the challenge of integrating myself into the culture. Because Salamanca was a immersion program, it seemed perfect for me. Lastly, my friend, Kate Flannery, was a Salamanca study ambassador and hearing about all her experiences living with Spanish students confirmed my interest.
Defining Moment Abroad?
Frying baby eel for dinner with my Spanish intercambio was one of many defining experiences. When I arrived in Salamanca still nervous, but hoping to improve my Spanish, I contacted a Spaniard in order to participate in what is called an intercambio, a weekly conversation to practice speaking Spanish (me) and in return practice speaking English (her). Sara, my inter-cambio, and I met regularly for four months. I really liked meeting with her, improving my Spanish, learning colloquialisms, helping her learn about American culture, exchanging movie recommendations, and learning about her home city. Before I left, we decided to teach each other how to cook. As we were making the baby eel and joking in Spanish I realized I had met my goal. I had truly been immersed in the culture.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
1.       Go! Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity so don t miss out. 
2.       Think about what you want to get out of your experience, before you choose where to study. Do you want to travel a lot? Do you want to be culturally immersed? Do you want to learn the language? Also, remember that you ll be living there for a while. Is this a place that you want to visit or LIVE? What s the standard of living? Commute? 
3.       Seriously practice the local language and learn some before you go. Though English is quite universal (but not always), knowing the language or at least making an effort is usually an in with the locals.   
4.       Make friends with locals. They will be some of the most interesting, fun, and different people that you ll meet and they ll think the same of you. Learning more about their culture will help you understand yours better. Plus, they know where the best local spots are.