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Bonnie Given '13
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I would like to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University for a variety of reasons. First of all, my experience studying abroad was one of the most unbelievable, eye-opening experiences of my life and I would like to share it with other people. I think it is important for all students who participated in a study abroad program to take time to reflect about their journeys with one another. Another reason I would like to serve as an International Ambassador is because I want to help other students interested in studying abroad whether it be by answering their questions, giving them advice, or simply being there as a helping hand. Finally, I would like to serve as an International Ambassador because I do not want to forget my memories I have of studying abroad. It is easy as a college student to get busy with school, extra-curricular activities, and jobs and forget about the experience they just returned home from. Being an International Ambassador would allow me, and my fellow students, to share and treasure our experiences abroad.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
When deciding on three study abroad program-locations, I knew that I wanted to study abroad in Spain. However, there were many aspects about Barcelona that were more appealing to me than the other cities in Spain. First of all, Barcelona is an SCU affiliated program and I knew I would be able to get credit for the classes I took abroad. Also, Barcelona offers an internship opportunity, which is something I participated in and could never imagine my experience with out. Barcelona is also a beautiful location that is lively and full of many different cultures. I knew that by choosing Barcelona I would be able to experience an exciting new atmosphere and I definitely did.
Defining Moment Abroad?
While I was studying abroad in Barcelona, I was working as an English teacher with a non-profit Peruvian based organization called FEPERCAT for my internship. The work was challenging for me because I had to teach the entire English class, a group of people I did not know, in Spanish. Since Spanish is not my first language, this was challenging and made me very nervous. As the semester progressed, the work became easier and more enjoyable and I began to feel at home in the organization. One day, one of my students came up to me and told me she really liked me as a teacher and wished I did not have to return to the states. This was a very touching moment for me. It affected me personally because it made me feel connected to my students on a deeper, more personal level. I did not know that I would form such close relationships with my students when I first started working at FEPERCAT. The moment also affected me academically, because it gave me confidence in my ability to think outside of the box and be creative with my work. With out a doubt, that moment is something I will remember and cherish forever.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
The most important advice I would give to prospective study abroad students is to not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, living in a different country is scary and intimidating and it is tempting to only do what you know. However, to take full advantage of one's study abroad experience, it is important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This does not mean putting oneself in dangerous situations but, instead, being uncomfortable for a temporary period of time to have an unforgettable experience in return. There were many times during my experience abroad where I felt uncomfortable or nervous trying something new, like eating new food or speaking in Spanish to native speakers. However, I feel like a more experienced person now because I decided to take the chance to step out of my comfort zone. If I were to prepare different to maximize my study abroad experience, I would have done more research about Barcelona before I arrived so I knew more about the culture I was planning on living in the next three and a half months. Though there are exciting aspects about a place that you can never prepare yourself for, I wish I had been more knowledgeable about Barcelona before I got there.