Santa Clara University

Jacqueline Madison '13

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
Studying abroad during my junior year was something I had been looking forward to since I arrived on Santa Clara’s campus as a freshman in 2009. Initially, I had the impression that studying abroad was my gateway to traveling across Europe, a continent that I had yet to visit at the time. Now that I have returned from Spain I have seen how much I have grown as a person. As I boarded the plane for my journey back to the United States it hit me, I have really matured. Now that I have had some time to reflect upon my experience I want to be able to share my knowledge of Barcelona with next years abroad students. I can remember our pre-departure orientation like it was yesterday and the information provided by the previous abroad students was very influential. I had a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to anxiousness, and having the opportunity to ask the ambassadors questions really helped with my reassurance. I want to be able to provide students with the same reassurance that I achieved. In addition, I want to serve as a continual resource over the course of the semester for students that are abroad in case any questions or concerns arise after their departure.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
Spain had always been of interest to me because I have relatives on my mother’s side that originated there and learning about the culture within my family was important to me. For my preferences I listed two cities in Spain, Barcelona and Madrid. I based my decision off of what each city had to offer me, and when it came down to ordering my preferences I put Barcelona first and Madrid second. The deciding factor for me was making sure the program I decided to go with offered several business classes that would transfer for credit. Now that I have returned I have definitely left a piece of my heart in Barcelona and I will be revisiting the city the first chance I get.
Defining Moment Abroad?
I signed up to take my second religion while studying abroad in Barcelona. The course was titled The Iberian Peninsula: Cultures and Religions Through the Arts. In this course we began by learning the history and events that had an impact on Spain throughout the years, beginning with the birth of Muhammad and the Age of Expansion and ending with the termination of Islamic presence within Spain. From there, during the second half of the course we focused on analyzing how art and architecture over the previous time period were affected. We intently studied countless images and discussed how repetition, ornamentation and geometry were present or not present within the photographs. In architecture our focus was on the Alhambra, the Great Mosque of Damascus, the Mezquita of Cordoba and the Dome of the Rock. Towards the end of semester in November I took a trip to Morocco where I visited the cities of Casablanca and Marrakech. In Casablanca I had the opportunity to visit the Hassen II, which was entirely the jewel of the city. The mosque sat on a platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and as the sun set the view of the lit up mosque was something truly spectacular. Upon taking time to examine the exterior of the structure I began explaining every detail to my friend Monica who accompanied me on the trip. The archways, the colors and the repetition all had distinctive meanings that I was able to convey to my friend after discussing them in my religion class. As the weekend progressed I was able to act as a tour guide for every tomb, palace and mosque we entered. On the train ride back to Casablanca from Marrakech I remember journaling about my experiences from the trip and one thing that really stood out to me was that I was able to successfully apply what I had learned over the course of the semester to all the architecture I encountered that weekend. At that moment what I was studying became more than a class, it really shaped my trip and was a way for me to put my knowledge to the test and I loved every second of it.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?