Santa Clara University

Lucas Tamayo '12

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
I want to be an International Ambassador because I want to share my experiences with prospective study abroad students. Studying abroad has been one of the smartest and most rewarding decisions I have made throughout my college career and I want to make sure that other students take advantage of the opportunity. I am also confident that I will be able to advise students on how they should prepare and how to make the most of their experience once immersed in a different culture and society.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I chose to study abroad in Paris, France because I began studying French in 8th grade and have always enjoyed studying all aspects of its language, history and culture. Therefore, I wanted to go to France to improve my French and experience the culture first-hand. Furthermore, I chose to study in Paris because I wanted to have the experience of studying in a major city where I would get to interact with the locals, but also have the opportunity to meet other international students.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
About a month into my semester in Paris, I had some free time after classes one day, so I decided to go to the Notre Dame Cathedral. As I was sitting down in the cathedral, I looked around and admired the building's architecture, its stained glass windows and the overall breathtaking immensity of the building. I wondered how people were able to build it without any of the modern technology we have today. I thought of all the people who probably died falling from the scaffolding or the pillars. I then thought about why go through all that trouble for a building, could they not have been doing something more productive and the only reason that came to mind was "ad maiorem dei gloriam" (to the greater glory of god).    I then looked around and saw all the tourists funneling in and out of the building, snapping photographs with their digital cameras, and not taking the time to appreciate what they were looking at. The people who built these structures must be turning over in their graves because that cathedral among many other structures I got to see while abroad were not built for the purpose of tourism, they were built for a purpose dear to the people of the particular era. From that point on, I vowed never to take anything I got to do or see during my study abroad experience for granted. I did not want to be like one of those other tourists who just takes picture, looks at art from behind the lens of a camera and doesn't take the time to look at it through their own eyes and appreciate it. I wanted to do all I could to ensure that I would remember forever every detail of what I was seeing and I always thought of how blessed I was to have the opportunity to be there.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?

The most important advice I would give to a a student studying abroad is to be objective. They should just accept things for how they are and eliminate all prejudices that they might have about the particular country and people where they are studying. This will allow them to better appreciate them and not only learn about the other culture, but also learn about themselves. Secondly, I would recommend that students simply walk around and purposely get lost in whatever city they are in because you never know what you will run into, who you will meet, or what you might see. Last, but not least I will advise students to learn as much of the local language as they can and incorporate as many of the local customs and behaviors into their daily routine.