Santa Clara University

Ivana Colendich '13

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University to share the passion I have for life abroad. I have many experiences from my host country and travels to share. I had an image of what my abroad experience would look like, but everything changed once I was orientated in Vienna. As an International Ambassador I would stress to the future abroad students to have the most unique experience abroad. To create their own personal memories by not subscribing to a "typical" abroad experience. I will provide honest answers to questions or concerns students will have. Most importantly I want to pump up future abroad students and share in their excitement. Personally serving as an International Ambassador will help with my transition back to Santa Clara. I have spent much time reflecting on life before, during, and after a cultural emersion. By creating a dialogue with future students about these feelings I have the knowledge to be somewhat prepare for what they might go through.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I chose to study abroad in Vienna, Austria for a completely new experience. For some, freshman year of college is a brand new experience, but this was not the case for me. I grew up in Santa Cruz County and spent a lot of time growing up in the greater San Jose area. I know many alumni from Santa Clara, including my older sister. Life as a Bronco was familiar to me. I love Santa Clara and have had the best experience here. However, I knew that by staying within this comfort zone I would be beyond ready for something new within my collegian years. Study abroad was my escape. My interest in Vienna started with my brothers recommendation and further research led me to preference Vienna. I loved the idea of going to a country I had never been, I did not know anyone, I did not know the language, and that it Vienna is a popular place for Santa Clara students to attend. These minor details aside, I was attracted to Vienna's central location, how safe it is, and how culturally alive it is. Everything started to fall into place, such as, the class options, the program details, the field trips, the internship options, the housing options, and more provided that Vienna was the perfect place for me. I have heard and agree with people who have told me that they can see on my face from pictures that Vienna was the perfect home for me.
Defining Moment Abroad?
Picking one defining moment is not easy, when it was the little moments or feelings everyday that affected the person I am now. A full understanding and realization of the differences in who I am now became apparent when my brother and sister visited me in November. I was fully confident in being a tour guide. I was able to express all my love and knowledge of the city. I recommended restaurants, coffee houses, museums, traditional dishes, explained transportation, and rattled away history. They were so impressed on how I embraced the culture and tried my best with the language. I had always been a mature and independent person before abroad, but developed an even deeper independence, especially in confidence. Vienna felt like home and when my brother and sister called me a "local," that is when I knew how far I had come in such a short amount of time.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
I honestly did hardly any research about Vienna or Austria before I arrived. I had no expectations and was blown away everyday by how amazing the city is. I am now embarrassed to admit how unaware I was about Vienna and Austria's importance throughout history, especially throughout Europe. I would recommend future abroad students to have some background knowledge about their host city and country prior to visiting. But not to stress about knowing and having everything planned prior to arrival. Everything will change once students are oriented in their city and have made friendships abroad. I learned much more by actually being there and going out to explore than I would have reading about everything before I was abroad. This allowed me to go with the flow and being able to jump on board for anything and never stop exploring. I would recommend future students to get lost in their city. I discovered and became orientated with the city through wandering. By the middle of my time abroad others in my program were asking me for recommendations and directions in the city that we had been living in for the same amount of time. I would recommend future students to allow their time abroad to be all about themselves. To not worry about being connected to life at home. Future students need to embrace the short amount of time they are abroad and that returning home will eventually come. I advise future students to constantly live in the present moment while abroad. And on a lighter note, do not over pack! There are too many goodies that need to be brought back home weather to share or save for memories.