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Carolyn Entress '13
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I would love to serve as an International Ambassador because through my experiences in Florence, I have learned so much about myself and a completely different culture; I want to encourage other students to study abroad because it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that offers so many unique learning opportunities. Santa Clara University gives students countless options and programs for study abroad. I would be honored to contribute my personal experience and help other students figure out what they are looking for.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I am an International Business Minor and love to learn languages. Upon entry to Santa Clara, I started talking Italian classes and fell in love with the language. Since I knew I wanted to study abroad, I chose Italy so I could utilize my language skills in order to develop them. I also wanted to stay with a family in order learn about the culture and city better. The Syracuse Florence program was one of the only study abroad options that offered a home-stay with classes in English. I have visited Florence before and fell in love with the city, therefore the Syracuse Florence program seemed like the best choice!
Defining Moment Abroad?
There is not one moment in particular, but I would definitely say that staying with a host family was one of the most life changing experiences for me. I was placed in a home with a middle-aged woman. Since it was just us two and she does not speak any English, I had to quickly adapt my language skills. She taught me so much about Florence, the culture, people and food. She always encouraged me to go out and wander the city, giving me specific cafes, restaurants and museums to see. Without her, I would have never found the quirky places that have become my favorite parts of the city. In addition, she helped me think independently and discover what are my true beliefs. At dinner, we would have endless discussions about politics and the world in general. We have differing points of view, so it taught me to understand the other side of an argument while still holding true to my beliefs. I think most importantly, my home-stay taught me how to appreciate life and love what is around me. She is truly a loving woman and showed me the importance of love in every aspect of life: with family, friends, cooking and appreciating the beauty of a city. It was truly a life changing experience.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
I would tell students to analyze what they are looking for in a study abroad experience, rather than thinking what is the "right thing" to do or the most popular. Students learn the most when they are thrown into challenging experiences and grow in entirely different ways. The location and type of stay is very important and only a decision they can make. In addition, I would encourage them to talk to students who studied abroad in their destination. I should have talked to other students in order to prepare myself better with clothes and general knowledge. It is very helpful to buy travel books and maps before arriving. Research is essential! I would also tell prospective study abroad students to throw themselves into the city and try to experience everything. The few months away fly by and it is important to take advantage of every situation! It is truly a unique experience that all should take advantage of if they have the ability.