Santa Clara University

Elizabeth Tompkins '13

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I thoroughly enjoyed my abroad experience. I believe studying abroad was an integral part of my SCU career, and I would like to help other students feel confident venturing to other places. I am very committed and dedicated, and I would love to aid other students in their studying abroad adventures.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I have always been an admirer of Scotland, so my choice was easy to make. Additionally, I appreciated studying at a real university with a very respectable academic reputation. I do not speak other languages well, so I chose to studying in an English speaking country.
Defining Moment Abroad?
My parents and little brother came to visit in early November during our Reading Week (which was our week off). We met in Edinburgh, toured part of the Highlands, and concluded in St Andrews, Scotland. When they visited, I realized how settled and comfortable I had become in Scotland. I felt as though I belonged there. I showed my family the cities with a sense of burning pride and familiarity. It was as if I had been in those cities for years, and I was so proud of the history and the culture. We hiked in the most beautiful hills, and we finished in a wonderfully lush glen. In those moments, I learned so much about myself. I was amazed at how independent I had become, and I felt at such peace with myself. I was truly happy- with who I was, with where I was, and with what I was doing. Finding that sense of peace is something for which I will always be eternally indebted to Scotland. I miss that country deeply, but I feel so much stronger and satisfied because of my time there.
Advise to Prospective study abroad students?
I would advise students to stop asking questions about their specific programs. I asked previous participants far too many questions, and I over-prepared for my time abroad. Each person's abroad experience is unique and exciting; some of the fun is in the unknown. Let go of the uncertainty and take every chance you can. In twenty years, you won't look back and remember the cramming you did for your midterm, but you will remember dancing all night at the Ball with your abroad friends. Set some goals before you go, and try to achieve something just for yourself. If you want to gain a new sense of independence, plan a trip to another country and realize you are completely capable. Take a hike somewhere, and find the natural beauty in the place you are studying. Find happiness in the simplest things in your country. Be okay with letting things be as they are- not every weekend has to include a different country. Some of my favorite moments were spent simply wandering around my little town with new friends. And last, but certainly not least, don't discount anyone as a potentially life-changing person and friend. Whether European, Middle Eastern, African, American, Hispanic, or other, each person I encountered made an impact in my life. But- you have to be open to the impact.