Santa Clara University

Caitlin Nalty '12

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?

I want to be a resource for students preparing to study abroad. I look forward to giving advice, sharing my stories and experiences and giving future abroad students information that I wish I had received prior to studying abroad.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
In choosing to go to Rome, I was choosing a lifestyle that I had never experienced before. I had never lived in a big city, I had never lived more than an hour away from home, I knew nothing of the Italian or Roman culture, and didn't speak Italian. I wanted to challenge myself and put myself in a culture completely different than my own.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
Coming to Rome, I didn't speak a word of Italian. While studying there, I took an Italian language course. While I did learn a lot in class, I was never brave enough to attempt to hold real conversations with Italians in the community. I would rely on others who spoke more Italian than me to talk for me, or explain to the Italian person that I didn't speak Italian very well and ask if they spoke English.  During my last week in Rome, I had finally built up enough courage to set out on my own for the afternoon. I had some Christmas shopping I wanted to do before I left Italy to go back home, and buying what I had in mind (two beautiful leather purses) would require me to speak and negotiate with shop owners in Italian. While in the shop, I surprised both the owner and myself at how well I could speak. I successfully negotiated the sale and held a conversation with the owner. As I was leaving the store, the owner complimented my Italian and thanked me for speaking with her. I walked home with the biggest smile on my face knowing that I had finally communicated on my own in a language that I didn't know how to speak only 3 months before.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?

When packing, make piles of what you want to bring and what you don't want to bring. Then cut the pile that you want to bring in half, including only the essentials and things that you can mix and match.  When traveling on the weekends, make sure you only bring a small duffel bag or a suitcase. Cheap airlines are very strict when it comes to baggage size.  While studying abroad, make a real effort to get to know the city that you're in, rather than traveling to other cities every weekend. You chose your location for a reason!