Santa Clara University

Robyn Hylind '12

International Ambassador

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

I want to serve as an International Ambassador so that I can share my wonderful experience with students preparing for their own adventures. There are a lot of things going through your head when you are about to travel across the world without anyone you know and I hope I can help answer some burning questions. I think my insight would also be helpful because not a lot of students here go to New Zealand, and it is a very unique place.
 
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
 
I ve always been drawn to New Zealand. I think it s important to choose a location that feels natural and simultaneously pushes you to try something new. I wanted to go somewhere I had never been and did not have a preconceived set of expectations for. I was also excited about the abundance of natural wonders in New Zealand. There are mountains, glaciers, fiords, and beautiful oceans all around you to explore. I had also heard good things about the people in New Zealand, which is very important for day-to-day life. Kiwis are some of the nicest, laid back, and most hospitable people I have ever encountered. Since they are English-speakers, there was no initial language-barrier and no initial delay in making connections with the locals.
 
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
 
It is difficult to pick one defining moment in a five-month, adventure-packed period of time, especially in a place with an affinity for extreme sports and an abundance of natural spectacles. One thing that does stand out in my mind was a three-day backpacking trip on a remote Island off the coast of New Zealand. During the excursion, there was no cell phone service, no electricity, and minimal contact with other people. It was towards the end of my trip and it was a great time for me to reflect on how my perspectives had changed and really allowed me think about life in a simplified way, removed from all of the distractions in civilization. Not only had I been removed from American culture for a long time, but in the wilderness I was pretty much removed from human culture all together. This allowed me to think about my own values and goals without any influence from society and it allowed me to learn a lot about myself and how I had changed during my study abroad experience.
 
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
 
I would advise prospective students to try to keep an open mind as much as possible. I didn t have a lot of specific expectations for the semester so there were no disappointments. I think you will be surprised how fast you adjust. On the first day of class, I couldn t figure out why my professor sounded a little different. It took me almost the entire lecture to realize that he was American and sounded strange to me because he did not have a New Zealand accent. I would also advise students to take advantage of every opportunity. It seems like you have a lot of time to do all of the things you want to, but once you are there time flies by faster than you can imagine.   When you are in a foreign country, every day is a new adventure and a chance for you to see something different than you have ever seen before. You only get as much as you put into the experience. If you are trying new things and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you will have a much more rewarding experience and since most students only have one study abroad opportunity, you will want to make the most of it.