Santa Clara University

Chris Knauer '13

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I had an amazing time while I was in Argentina. As an ambassador I feel as though I will be able to share my experiences with prospective study abroad students and be able to better guide the students who are studying in Argentina the following year. Through my travels and experiences in such a large city such as Buenos Aires, my knowledge can be applied to the future abroad students, either those going to Argentina or other places around the world. Also, during our meetings in April when we met everyone from Santa Clara going in our program, my ambassadors cleared up some important questions I had about my time there. I would love to be in this position helping future abroad students and with my traveling knowledge, think I could successfully accomplish this.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I chose my abroad location based on a couple of different factors. Firstly, I needed to study in a country that spoke Spanish and had business programs as I am a finance major. This limited my options considerably. I also wanted to be in a place I had never been before. One other factor as well was going someplace off the beaten path. Lots of students choose Europe as a place to study and I wanted to be a little different. Not many people have been to South America, let alone have lived there. I thought it would be an interesting experience in a continent I had never visited doing things I, and many others, have never done.
Defining Moment Abroad?
While I was abroad, I took all of my classes in Spanish. This proved very challenging in many aspects of my life, not only academically. I took one of my classes, econ, at a local university. This was my toughest class however, I learned much more than solely about the economy. Having class in Spanish is very difficult. It was a three hour long class and attended class with all other native Argentine speakers. I had to be attentive and listen to every word my professor said in order to fully understand what was happening and what we were talking about in the class. Also during one of these classes, there was a political protest that occurred in the street right outside my classroom as the presidential elections were coming up in the next few weeks. My professor stopped the class and started a debate about Argentine politics as well as US politics and how they affected Argentina. I found this was very interesting. I was surprised at how much the other students as well as my professor knew about US politics and what events were happening. Although I knew before how important and how much the US affects other countries, this fact hit me hard. From this experience, I now more fully understand the role of the US in the world and how much our decisions in the States affect others around the world.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
When I went abroad, I did not read very thoroughly the student blogs or student feedback about their experiences specific to where I was studying, Argentina. If I could do it again, I would read these as these provide invaluable information about the program, what to bring, what to expect, etc. They provide a real life account of what life is actually like in the city or country. Also I would say it is very important to do research about your country before you leave. Although you learn a lot about the country while you are studying there, through classes, experiences and interactions, it is still important to have at least a basic knowledge of the history, politics, places to go and important facts before leaving for abroad.