Santa Clara University

Amanda Nelson '13

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I would say that, as someone who had not had many opportunities to travel internationally before, my time in London has been one of the best experiences that I've had in college, and in my life as a whole. I will always treasure the experiences that I had, and the friends that I made. But I remember being apprehensive to embark on the program, just because there were so many unknown variables. Going to the information sessions and talking to students who had previously gone helped to put me at ease. And they were able to give me a lot of "behind the scenes" tips that ended up being very useful while I was abroad. I would really like to help put future study abroad students at ease, answer their questions, and give them tips so that their abroad experience can be as incredible and fulfilling as mine was.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
The main factor in my choice of study abroad location was the classes offered. As a student in the business school, I have a lot of core requirements that other study abroad programs couldn't fulfill. But in London, all of my classes were able to count, which allowed me to stay on track with my courses. I also chose London because I had not had the opportunity to travel internationally much before, and I felt that London, with it's rich history and culture, would be a great place to start.
Defining Moment Abroad?
It's hard to pin down a specific moment, but I would say that the internship that I received through FIE was a very transformative experience. I interned at a small non-profit called the Pesticide Action Network - UK. It was my first experience working in the non-profit sector, and it definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world view. It was inspiring to work alongside people who were truly dedicated to their job, not just to make money, but to create a better world and a better future for all people. The non-profit I was working for has been struggling financially due to the poor economy, and their staff has been reduced from over ten people to three in the past year. And yet, all of those former employees continue to help out PAN-UK where they can, because they truly believe in what the organization does. Their dedication has really inspired me to seek out a vocation that I truly care about, a job that I would want to do even if I wasn't being paid.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
The greatest advice that I could give would be don't be afraid to try anything and everything. I'm a notoriously picky eater and as a part of my internship's Christmas party, I was taken out to have Ethiopian food, and now I can't get enough. I think the best part of studying abroad is trying out new things that you don't expect. Even if you're not that into history or art, check out a museum. Even if you're not that into sports, go to a rugby game. It was the experiences where I did something that I wouldn't necessarily normally try that were my fondest memories.     
In retrospect, I would looked more into weekend trips within the UK. The UK has some great cities outside of London, and I was able to experience a few, but I wish I had seen more. I wish I had looked into more opportunities ahead of time so that I could maximize my time while I was there.