Santa Clara University

Kristyn Heath '12

Peer Advisor: SCU Programs Coordinator
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I want to serve as an International Ambassador at SCU because I truly believe that studying abroad is a great opportunity that every student should take advantage of. My story of deciding whether or not to study abroad was different than many of my peers. Due to financial circumstances, I was unsure of whether or not I could go until a month before the program started! I took a lot of risks in going, however, I do not regret my decision to study abroad in Barcelona at all. I had such an amazing time and learned a lot about myself and the Spanish people as well. I would love to help other students who may find themselves in the same position I was in this past summer.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I had always wanted to go to Spain, so I knew that I would study abroad there, I just needed to choose which city and program. After researching different cities like Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona, I knew that Barcelona was a perfect fit. I loved the location of Barcelona - it's a thriving city on the coast, near both the beach and the mountains. Barcelona is also a very diverse and open-minded place. I chose to study with IES because they had a tailor-made program for SCU students that was more affordable. They also had classes that fit my major (business management) and I had a friend who participated in IES the year before and highly recommended the program.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
I think something that I experienced throughout my trip that affected me personally was the overall kindness of the Spanish people I came in contact with. Whenever I was lost and needed help with directions, someone was more than happy to help out. I had great conversations on the bus with complete strangers. And once received a short history lesson on Catalonia while watching a demonstration during La Merce, one of their biggest holidays. I was surprised by how nice the people were and how they took their time to explain things to me, sometimes without even my asking. The Spanish are so proud of their heritage and I admire their kindness and willingness to share it with complete strangers like myself.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
1)Make new, LOCAL friends! Everyone says that they want to learn more about the culture of the country they're going to study abroad in. However, many students travel in packs of American students and never even attempt to make friends with the culture they're so excited to learn about! Making a local friend is the easiest way to learn more about the country. And there's more you can learn from a person, than from the Internet or a travel book. 2)If you can, stay in a homestay. You get to learn more of the language (granted it's not English) and get to eat more cultural foods. It's a win-win