Santa Clara University

Andrew Koike '12

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?

Studying abroad truly enriched my college experience. Being on my own in a foreign country expanded my horizons and allowed me to discover new things about other cultures and myself. Being thrust into another country pushed me to do new things I would have not thought possible before: I made friends from all over the world and traveled around New Zealand on my own accord, taking in the sights and adventuring across the southern fjord lands onto the glaciers on the west coast. After all that I have seen and experienced, I want to share my experiences with other students in the Santa Clara community and encourage others to travel abroad and discover more about themselves and enrich their own college experiences.
 
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
 
I had previously visited New Zealand in the spring of 2003. Traveling there with my family gave me a short glimpse of a culturally rich nation with a diverse landscape and strong cultural identity. Ever since then I had always wanted to return to New Zealand, explore the country as an adult, and learn about the small island nation. When I saw that Arcadia University offered a study abroad opportunity in New Zealand I knew that it was time to finally return.
 
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
 
During my winter break at the University, a 7.2 earthquake hit Christchurch, the city I was studying in. With power cut to a majority of the city and classes cancelled for an extra two weeks, I learned how to become flexible and adapt to new situations. The crisis in my study abroad city illustrated to me the need to be sensible and level headed even amidst a crisis. With an extra two weeks off and nothing to do, I was faced with the opportunity to sit on my hands for the duration of break or go out and explore. Several friends and I then pulled together a last minute backpacking trip that proved to be the most rewarding experience of my time abroad. The earthquake taught me that when problems arise one must adapt. There are many opportunities for growth and self-exploration to any who look.
 
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
 
I would highly recommend that study abroad students make an effort to reach out to their fellow students from different universities and experience as much of the country they are in as possible. By experiencing as much as possible, a student can get a holistic experience that will greatly contribute to their development as a person. While abroad I became friends with people from all over the world, gaining insight into different cultures and experiencing their point of view. It is crucial for other students to do the same: instead of sticking solely with other Americans or Santa Clara students, one must branch out and meet new people. Although it is difficult to break out of one s comfort zone, it is rewarding to meet new people and try new things.     In retrospect, I would have encouraged myself to be more adventurous. During the first months of my time abroad, I was a little too timid. Instead of meeting new people and exploring my host country, I was content to stick with other Americans and stay in my comfort zone. Although I learned to branch out later in my time abroad, I would have appreciated any extra time spent with locals.