Santa Clara University

Kathryn Kouchi '12

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
Study abroad came with its challenges and difficulties, but it was also the most rewarding experience for me. I grew as a person, saw the world differently, gained more confidence in myself, and learned so much. I believe that everyone who has the opportunity to study abroad should, and that is why I would like to serve as an International Ambassador. There are many uncertainties and worries that can come up while preparing to go abroad and I would like to help other students to prepare for the amazing adventure that is study abroad.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I wanted to be in a culture that I could immerse myself in, but I also wanted to push myself. I decided on Rome for many reasons: the SCU program was affordable, the apartments with Italian Companion Students was a great opportunity to live in Rome, and the acceptance of any Italian skill level made the program very appealing (I had no previous Italian Experience). I have always been interested in Italian culture and having the opportunity to live there for 3 1/2 months was too good to pass up.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
There was no one experience that was my favorite or that single handily changed my life. The entire experience: living in the bustling city of Rome, trying to learn the language and interact, going on field studies with amazing professors, travelling with my friends, navigating the city's public transportation and eating amazing food all made me fall in love with Rome. There were many surreal moments, like watching the fireworks over the Tiber or seeing the student riots, which made me realize that I am in a completely different place. I was truly affected by how Rome became my home and how much I had grown because of that. Two of my classes (Roman Architecture and Urban Design and Contemporary Issues in the Catholic Church) showed me that I could be passionate about areas outside of my major and possibly make a career out of that. I discovered so much about myself, I am truly grateful for everything Rome and my time abroad has given me.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
First, go abroad! It was the most challenging and difficult experience for me at first but it was tremendously rewarding.    Second, know what you want to take out of the experience before you start. This applies to the classes you take and the travelling you'll do. I had an option to have an internship or take a religion class (Contemporary Issues in the Catholic Church, being 20 minutes away from the Vatican made the class truly unique). Either option would have been truly wonderful and once in a lifetime opportunity, which made the decision that much harder for me. I decided to take the class because I felt that it would be the best for me to grow in my faith. The class turned out to be one of my favorites. As far as traveling while abroad, ask yourself do you want to travel all over Europe (or wherever you happen to be)? Plan some trips once you get to your program city and actively coordinate with your fellow study abroad students that you meet. Do you want to truly immerse yourself in the city you live in? Take some weekends to just be a local and walk around the city and discover hidden paths or stumble upon some famous sites.      Also if you're into taking pictures: take your camera with you everywhere, you never know what you'll see. Have no regrets! Time will go by so quickly, I promise you. Know that ahead of time and make the most of your experiences. Take chances and just enjoy the wonderful experience.