Santa Clara University

Briana Colon '13

International Ambassador

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?

I want to serve as an International Ambassador at SCU because as the first group to experience the Winter Quarter experience in Rome, I believe I have the knowledge to expand the program and improve it for future students. I want to serve as an ambassador because I want to provide a valuable resource for students going abroad into this program as someone they can come to with any questions or concerns. Studying abroad is a privilege and there are so many things I learned while abroad that I want to give back and aid students by helping them to prepare for this step. I want to serve as an International Ambassador at SCU to help students make the most out of their rewarding study abroad experience. 

What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program and/or location?

I decided to study abroad in Rome winter quarter because it was a program that would work out perfectly with my schedule and would enable me to ultimately graduate on-time in four years. I especially wanted to study in Italy because having been there before, I always knew that I wanted to go back. Italian culture appealed to me from the start and the people really make the experience for me. I was not disappointed in choosing Rome to study, because the Italian people and ways of life still appealed to me. Participating in a program through SCU was also a factor because it would be the same price and would require little hassle. The fact that the program was a quarter long also appealed to me because I did not have to go through the trying process of obtaining a student visa.

Describe a defining moment in your abroad experience.

While studying abroad, I had a defining moment while living with my host mom and roommate in Rome. My roommate and my host mom have very different personalities from me, so living with them was a growing experience where I made friends with people that I normally wouldn't. I am grateful for this defining moment in living with my host mom who introduced me to Italian culture through her eyes. Living with people who are so different than me enabled me to grow and relate the experience to my academic and spiritual studies. It forced me out of my comfort zone and to assert myself more. I taught them aspects of my more sensitive nature and they taught me to be more assertive and confident. It was an exchange of personal values and ultimately it changed all of us for the better. Living with people so different from myself, especially my host mom who has different cultural traditions strengthened my respect for others and their cultures.

What advice would you give to prospective study abroad students?

I would advise prospective students to research the many programs for a long period of time. This would include figuring out when the best time is to go abroad or which quarter and what the ideal price range would be. I would recommend that students take full advantage of the International Programs office because they are there to help students with the whole process. Communication with the study abroad office and international ambassadors can help students decide which program to choose based on their individual preferences. I would advise students to utilize all the resources available to them for this process to ensure that they make the right choice in choosing a program they would not regret. I would recommend also that students immerse themselves in the culture they study in to experience new way of life. This will enable students to grow by coming in contact with others who can challenge them with their unique lifestyles. This will involve getting out of one's comfort zone and culture of familiarity. I would recommend that students endeavor to make friends with locals when they study abroad and avoid only communicating with Americans because it's safe and familiar. This will help students maximize their study abroad experience.