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Joseph Bittner '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I would like to be an International Ambassador because I want to have the opportunity to share everything I learned abroad with students preparing to go off on their own journey. There are many things I wished I had known before going abroad, and I would like to help in any way I can in preparing students for their study abroad experience.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country to improve my Spanish skills (I am a Spanish Minor) and wanted to be able to travel throughout Europe while abroad. In terms of picking Barcelona over another city in Spain, I had a lot of friends who participated in the IES Barcelona program and had only good things to say about the program and Barcelona as a city.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
A few weeks into my study abroad experience, I was stopped on the sidewalk by some lost tourists looking for directions. Without even looking at a map, I was able to direct them to where they wanted to go. Once I realized that I had given directions to somewhere in Barcelona from memory and knowledge of getting around in the city, I realized that I could truly say I was living in Europe, not just visiting. After that, I felt much more confident with myself, knowing that I had successfully adapted to a new culture to the point where I felt like a true local, not just an American student abroad.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
If you have the opportunity, opt for a homestay. Being in a homestay enhances your experience abroad and lets you see how a true local family lives, versus living with other American students who are also abroad. Local families are not only welcoming and there to make your experience better, but are full of helpful information and tips that make your immersion into a new culture much more enjoyable.