Santa Clara University

Karen Salas '12

International Ambassador

 

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I had an amazing and life-changing experience abroad. My main reason for considering studying abroad was a personal goal; I wanted to better practice my French skills in a place that would allow me to do so. I attained this goal, and I want other people who have similar goals attain it as well. I felt limited to what I could do in the classroom, which is why studying abroad was such a great opportunity. I know there are other students who want to expand their learning beyond the classroom, which is why I want to share my experiences with them.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I love the French language and culture, but I always had trouble feeling comfortable with my speaking ability. I wanted to study in Paris because I knew I would be able to step out of my comfort zone. I would also be in a city filled with so much history and beauty. I definitely made the right decision.
Defining Moment Abroad?
During my final dinner with my host family I realized how quickly I could communicate and how fearless I was about speaking in French. I made jokes and could not keep them from laughing. In the past, I was always very critical of my spoken French, and was very shy when it came time to expressing myself. However, it was at that moment that I realized that all my hard work during the semester paid off. I was able to make people laugh, in French! Seeing how much I have grown in my knowledge in the French language also made me want to consider a career in which I can continue to use it. At this point, I do not want to stop learning French. I definitely plan on returning to France to further refine my fluency in French.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
I would advise them to keep an open mind to the cultural differences that will arise while abroad. They should also make sure they fill out all necessary forms on time and ahead of time to make things simpler. Learning more about the city where you want to study abroad and having an idea of what sites you want to visit will make it easy when it comes to thinking of what to do while there.