Santa Clara University

Caitlin Baker '13

International Ambassador

 

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I want to serve as an International Ambassador because I had an amazing time studying abroad, and it made me passionate about encouraging other to take advantage of the opportunity. I also would like to talk to and give advise to anyone one who is considering studying in Alicante, or Spain in general. As a sophomore, trying to pick a program, and then prepare to go abroad, I found it very helpful to be able to have someone to ask questions to and get advise from. Study abroad was an experience I will never forget and I would like to encourage other students to take advantage of the opportunity to experience a new culture, while having a great time living abroad.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I choose to study in Spain, because going to a Spanish speaking country was important to me. One of the goals I had for my study abroad experience was to be able to learn a language and participate in a cultural immersion. The ability to travel within Europe was another deciding factor in choosing my program location. I choose Alicante, because the program itself had many of the things I was looking for, such as a homestay option, language immersion, and an awesome location on the sunny Mediterranean coast.
Defining Moment Abroad?
I would say the most defining moment of study abroad was the culture shock I felt in the beginning. I remember it being only my second day in Spain, and I was moving into my homestay. Here I was, moving into a house with someone I didn't know, having to live and build a relationship with someone in another language. It was definitely frustrating and stressful at first, but it was also the experience that I got the most out of. Being alone in a foreign country, having to make new friends, speak a different language, made me grow so much as a person. After a few weeks, I no longer had fears of speaking up in class or interacting with people I meet in the city, I was more independent. By the time I reached the end of the semester I was shocked at how much I had matured and grown for the better.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
My advise to anyone considering study abroad would be to do your research in choosing a program. Before you decide, figure out what is important to you in terms of learning a language, location, traveling, housing options etc. I would also encourage others to talk to people who have done the program, and research the city. You will find there are pro and cons to very location and program. For me, I was really set on going to a non-English speaking country, but having done that I can see the benefits of going somewhere were I fluently spoke the language. And lastly, be prepared to feel culture shock and homesick, it happens to everyone, but it is also the tough times that truly make study abroad a life-changing experience.