Santa Clara University

Julia Drimmer '13

International Ambassador

 

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
Everybody knows that studying abroad can be the most amazing time of your life and an incredible opportunity for students at Santa Clara. The reason that I want to be an International Ambassador is that I feel as if I can convey so much more than that. Before leaving for Spain I was extremely anxious and nervous, as I am sure most people are. However now that I have gone through the entire process, I would love the opportunity to be able to ease some of those feelings for the future study abroad participants. Studying abroad was everything that I had expected it to be and more, and I think that was mainly due to the fact that I truly took advantage of every opportunity that was given to me while I was there. I know a lot of people that did not have the same experience as me, which I completely understand because I was very hesitant when I first arrived. Living in Seville I learned so many new things and life skills, and I want to inform future students of how amazing the things that they will experience are. I would really love the chance to be an international ambassador because I want to be able to convey my experience to others and hopefully encourage them to study abroad and have a life-changing experience as well.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
When deciding to study abroad I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be in Spain. I am an international business minor, and I am fulfilling my language requirements for it with Spanish classes. I really wanted to be somewhere that I could work on my Spanish speaking skills and experience a true cultural aspect of Spain. I chose the Spanish city of Seville because it is a unique city that has traditional characteristics, yet is modern and not too small. It is not the most popular destination of Spain, and I really liked that it was unique in that sense. Seville is also in the Andalusian region of Spain, which has a very distinctive culture that I did not think I would be able to experience anywhere else. The final deciding factor in my decision to study in Seville was the homestay program that they have. I had heard amazing things about the homestays, and that they are a great opportunity to improve your Spanish language skills. This proved to be true, both in the fact that I loved my host family as well as the fact that my Spanish greatly improved.
Defining Moment Abroad?
The most defining moment in my study abroad experience was when I went on a trip to Morocco for four days. It was an excursion that was led by my program, which made it much more rewarding because we were able to get a true cultural experience that I never would have had otherwise. There were several defining moments of the trip that opened my eyes personally, intellectually, spiritually, and even academically. The first of these was when we went up to a village in the mountains and ate lunch with a Moroccan family. We had a translator with us, and the father of the household spent the entire meal questioning every single one of us about our lives. It was incredible how genuinely interested he was in our lives, and how knowledgeable he was about the world. We ended up having a major political debate, and I learned things from him about my own country that I had never known before. Another example is when we stayed with a Moroccan family for two nights. Despite the language barrier, we ended up spending the night watching TV with subtitles and dancing around the living room to American music. I can honestly say that it was one of the most fun nights that I had while abroad, and even though we could hardly communicate through speech, it taught me how similar we all are throughout the world. I had the opportunity to go to a first world country for the first time, and had an incredible experience that would never have been available to me if I had not studied abroad.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
I think that the biggest advice that I could give to any prospective study abroad student is that your time abroad goes by quicker than you could ever imagine so you truly have to take advantage of it. Studying abroad is something that most people look forward to for a long time, but before you know it, it is already over. The first few weeks were a huge adjustment for me, and in retrospect I wish that I had made more of an effort to jump into everything sooner. It can be very easy to stay in your comfort zone, but as hard as it may be I would advise students to do it as soon as possible. It s a rewarding experience on a personal level for your future, and you are also able to have that much better of a time studying abroad. The other thing that I would advise is for students who are going to study in a non-English speaking country. I had previously taken Spanish classes before I went to Spain, however there were a lot of basic words and phrases that I wish I had known before arriving. I went in with the assumption that I would pick up on everything right away, but I ended up running into issues because I was not able to express basic things. Although my language skills significantly improved, it did not happen without effort on my part. My advice for future students would be to be prepared beforehand and be prepared to make a conscious effort to speak in the native language because it definitely pays off in the long run.