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Andrea Dlugos '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I want to serve as an International Ambassador because I had such an amazing experience abroad and I want to share everything I learned with future study abroad students. This is the best decision I have ever made in my life, and I believe that my enthusiasm and knowledge I gained from my experiences will be extremely helpful in preparing students for their upcoming adventure. I also feel that I wasn't as informed about the SCU Rome program as I could have been, and would love to be able to provide advice for future students that I didn't receive.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I have wanted to study abroad in Europe ever since I first discovered it was a possibility back when I was in middle school. The summer before my sophomore year I spent 10 days in Tuscany, ending with only one day in Rome, which is not anywhere near to enough time to experience the city. Even so, I fell in love with Rome and Italian culture and knew that that was where I wanted to study abroad my junior year. Rome is also in a great location to travel from, which is something I knew I would be doing a lot of during my time abroad. I am also a history and economics double major, and the SCU Rome program offered courses in both of these areas that would transfer back towards my major, which was extremely important since I would probably not graduate on time if they didn't count.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
Picking just one experience that had a huge impact on me is nearly impossible; every day brought something new and exciting that allowed me learn more about myself, Italy, and the world as a whole. There is, however, one experience that stands out in my memory. I was on my first trip outside of Rome to Capri and Sorrento. We had only been in Italy for a few weeks, and my Italian skills, along with those of my roommates, were very minimal. We stayed the night at a bed and breakfast in Sorrento run by an adorable old Italian woman named Rosa, who spoke about as much English as we spoke Italian. Somehow we managed to communicate with her though, and even talked about American politics over breakfast. We realized that we had learned much more than we thought. This experience made me realize that actually being in the country you are learning the language of helps you out tremendously in picking it up, especially when you go knowing nothing. Language shouldn't be a barrier in deciding where to go; although it is difficult at times, you end up coming away learning much more than you thought you would.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
Go in with no expectations, because no matter how much you think you are prepared, you are going to have experiences unlike anything you ever imagined. Being open minded about your time abroad will not only let you enjoy the culture more, but you will try more things and meet people who will become lifelong friends. Being flexible is also important, especially in Rome where public transportation isn't exactly dependable. Looking at everything as part of your adventure and a learning experience, even when things don't go as planned, will make your time abroad much more enjoyable. I ended up finding some of my favorite places in Rome while I was lost that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Something I should have done to prepare differently was to actually realize how much the exchange rate affects the price of things, as well as added on international fees. Euros may look like monopoly money, but the effect on your bank account is cold hard reality. Prepare yourself to be bombarded with opportunities to spend money during the first few weeks and then rubbing your eyes in disbelief when you finally check how much you spent. I also wish I had followed the packing guidelines a little more closely. Coming home you are going to have so many more things than what you left with, and paying for overweight bags is not fun.