Santa Clara University

Natasha Patel '13

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I would like to be an International Ambassador for Santa Clara University because I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad at University of Capetown. Although I was hesitant to go abroad, the excitement and encouragement that I received from other students helped relieve my apprehension and I would like to do the same for future study abroad participants. My semester abroad was one of the highlights of my college experience and I would not want any future student to miss out on the opportunity due to apprehension or unanswered questions. As an ambassador I would be able to provide a service to the future students that considered Cape Town or any other location for their experience by answering their questions and sharing tips to help them through their journey that would allow them to make the most of their time abroad.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
The deciding factors that lead me to choose CIEE Capetown as my study abroad program were that the program taught in English, the people spoke a language that I was familiar with (English or Spanish), the university had a variety of courses of my interest to choose from, and the location provided a culture that would enhance my educational and abroad experience. Capetown was one of the locations that provided me with all 4 factors above. The university taught their classes in english and although a variety of languages were spoken across the country, english was also commonly spoken. I am a sociology major and the university provided a wide variety of sociology and other social science courses that I was interested in. South Africa also had such a fascinating history due to the racial divides of apartheid that as a sociology major I was interested to see how a group of people with various racial and cultural backgrounds came together to form a thriving community despite their differences. One of the main highlights of the Capetown program that also heavily influenced my decision was the volunteer opportunities. My time volunteering at the Baphumelele children's home was one of the greatest highlights of my experience abroad, it was humbling to see how the children in the townships struggle in their day to day lives and I was grateful that I was able to make an impact on their future.
Defining Moment Abroad?
A defining moment of my study abroad experience was the progress I noted in the children on the last day I volunteered at the Baphumelele children's home. As part of the program we chose a location to volunteer at and I chose to teach children in an after-school program at the children's home. My partner and I would provide a lesson in math, reading, or any other subject to the children for an hour and a half twice a week. It was one of the highlights of being abroad, the children I met were beautiful and full of life despite the conditions they lived in. The progress that my partner and I noted from when we first met the children on the first day to the end was incredible. Children from all the classes, not only our own, had grown so much in terms of personality and in our class over time we noted that many had a zest for learning that could not be satisfied by the minimal schooling they received. When we all left the program I could say that we were humbled by the experience but also inspired by how incredible the children we met were and how much they influenced our lives while we attempted to influence theirs.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
Go for an adventure. I've travelled abroad on vacation before but Africa was new which made it even more exciting. When you decide your program make a checklist of what you want out of the experience and the qualifications that the program you choose should meet for both your personal goals and academic ones. Use the study abroad office well, if you cannot find the answer to your question chances are that an International Ambassador or someone at the study abroad office will. Remain open to new experiences and friendships and prepare to meet the challenges you face. Enjoy your time abroad, it will be one of your fondest memories in the future.