Student Perspective: RaKesha Gray

RaKesha Gray is a sophomore majoring in English.

St. John Lateran Basilica

St. John Lateran Basilica

Ten days in Italy created memories worth a lifetime! I shamefully admit that in high school, I had no real interest in studying abroad. Even though I had been exposed to stories from my parents and friends of the family who had traveled abroad, I always thought of it as being uncomfortable for half of year in a foreign place.

I’ve always enjoyed traveling, but I did not realize the options of studying abroad until I got to CBU. I sat through a session in the summer. Dr. Forsdick and students passionately shared their experiences, and that passion must have transferred directly to me. I learned of the best opportunity ever dealing with studying abroad. There was a chance to take a class (The Chemistry of Cooking), get to know students, and then travel with them to enjoy a foreign place for about ten days. How cool! It dispelled my fear of being totally uncomfortable. Short study trips are a great segue for first time international travelers. However, I now have the excitement and courage to study abroad for a whole semester.

Lighting in Dozza

Lighting in Dozza

Being in Italy allowed me to experience the taste of authentic pasta, gelato, and pizza. (The pizza and gelato class was even more awesome!)  Being out of the country allowed me to realize how big the world is and what a small place I occupy in it. I also realized that despite language and cultural differences, we all smile the same. We all want to enjoy life.

I had not financially prepared to go on this trip, but a little faith and willpower took me a long way; literally. I learned to budget and to ask others for help. I am very appreciative for the generosity of family, friends, and church members. I am blessed to have been supported with monetary gifts and words of traveling wisdom.

The overall process of traveling abroad is indescribable, but I know it makes one grow up. I could go on and on about how life changing it was, but that doesn’t even touch the surface. If you want to be rich one day, study abroad. Traveling is truly the investment that pays. I agree with the saying it’s the only service you pay for that makes you so rich. In what ways is my life now richer? You’ll have to study abroad to find out.

Interview: Griselda Matos Martinez

Griselda Matos Martinez is a junior currently studying business at LaSalle Barcelona, one of CBU’s student exchange institutions.

Griselda in front of the Sagrada Familia

Griselda in front of the Sagrada Familia

How is attending a university in Spain different from attending CBU? I would say that universities in Spain are more relaxed than in the United States. For instance, instead of having homework, various exams, a midterm and a final exam throughout the semester like in CBU, the Spanish university only has one or two big projects and possibly a midterm or a final exam throughout the semester. Barcelona, which is where I am, is a very popular destination for international students. It is considered a city for the youth where many cultures converge and mix. That’s the reason why, on average, 20% of the classes are usually exchange students from different parts of the world.

Why did you decide to study abroad? I’m originally from Panama City, Panama in Central America. I went to the United States to pursue a dream and a better education. The same impulse that made me leave my country and go to the United States is the same one that made me leave the United States and go to Spain. Studying abroad in the United States opened so many doors and opportunities for me that I would’ve never been able to get in Panama. In the same way, studying abroad in Barcelona, is opening many more doors and opportunities for my future.

Why do you think it is important to study abroad? I think it is important to study abroad because it helps you broaden your horizons and it makes you look at things from another perspective. It looks good on a resume, but the most important thing would be the experiences gained while abroad. It will certainly be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in college.

Students listening eagerly at foot of professor.

Students listening eagerly to their professor in Barcelona

Tell us about Spanish culture. Spanish culture is very relaxed and informal. Since Spanish is my native language, it is easier for me to communicate with other people here in Barcelona. Although Barcelona’s most spoken language is Catalan, Spanish is also widely spoken. If a Catalan sees that you don’t understand Catalan, s/he will happily switch to Spanish or English if they know how to speak it. Since it is a popular tourist destination, English is common. I referred to Spanish culture as “informal” because of the way Spaniards communicate. A way of saluting or saying hello would be with a kiss on each cheek. That might come off as a culturally shocking experience for Americans because it is not a common practice in the United States. The way they address each other is also informal. Instead of saying “buenos días” (good morning) or “usted” (you in a formal way), they would merely say a simple “hola” (hi) and they would use “tú” (you in an informal way) to refer to people older than they are.

How has this experience affected you and how you observe the world? The biggest reward this experience has given me so far would be the possibility of getting to know myself a little better. When you find yourself in another country with another culture and having to do things by yourself without depending on others, you will get the chance to understand yourself better. I came to this country with a phrase on my mind: “Every adventure starts with a YES,” and I’m planning to make it count. Defeat fears, break barriers and explore every chance you get!

What are the best and worst parts of studying abroad? Why? The worst parts of studying abroad would be the feelings of being lost and uncertain that you get when you first arrive and the feeling of melancholy you get for being away from your loved ones for so long. Although you get that feeling of sadness, for me, the best part of studying abroad is being able to learn how to appreciate and cherish the time you have with those loved ones once you see them again.

A Letter from China

Brennen and classmate in Beijing

Brennen and classmate in Beijing

Greetings from Beijing!  After graduating from CBU with a business degree in 2014 and studying abroad in both Switzerland and China, I decided to do something a little more adventurous for graduate school.

I researched the best graduate schools in Asia and applied to their MBA programs.  Fortunately, I was accepted into the International MBA programs of the two highest ranked universities in China and am currently wrapping up my first year at Peking University in Beijing! It’s been an incredible year with lots of learning. Most of the professors are Chinese nationals that were educated in either North America or Europe, so class discussions often lead to really interesting discussions comparing and contrasting the Eastern and Western economies. Sitting in class with the brightest students in Asia every day is really eye opening and exciting because not only are our opinions diverse, but it seems as if we are all piecing the information together in a way that will benefit the whole world.

I highly recommend undergraduate students at Christian Brothers University to explore their study abroad options early in their academic careers. Starting early means having time to tailor your bachelor’s degree exactly to your needs by making sure you have time to spend a semester (or two) abroad- hopefully studying something different and enlightening that will set you apart from your peers in the future. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do for a career, open as many doors as possible and make decisions NOW that will give you the tools and experience to accomplish anything in the future.

Good luck,
P. Brennen Reynolds (Finance ’14)

Student Spotlight: Stancia Harvey

When I first started college, or even before then, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. It was just always something I wanted to do. I always wanted to see the world and learn about different cultures.

ormskirk3

Ormskirk, England

So, when I learned that an international experience was required for my major, I knew right away I wanted to study abroad instead of taking one of those short trips. That actually gave me the initiative to go ahead and do it, since I was not sure I was going to have the time. Also, I was a little wary of the process. I anticipated it would be long and quite difficult. But, the process was actually relatively easy since the Study Abroad Program was there to guide me through the whole process.

Of course, I was excited at the prospect of leaving the country for the first time! But, I was not anticipating the nervousness that came along with it. I was constantly transitioning from being excited to being nervous and also very scared at some points, but I knew that if I did not take this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I don’t think I really had any expectations from the experience except to leave home with an open mind. I knew I was planning on traveling to at least a couple of other places while I was in Europe, but I didn’t really have any preconceived notions about leaving. However, I know that when I leave England I will miss all of the friends I have made, and I will cherish the experiences and all the places I have seen while here. I won’t take this experience for granted, and I am definitely coming back. — Stancia Harvey (Interdisciplinary Studies ’15)

Life Is the Key Lesson

Picture9Adrianna Smith of Georgetown University, who spent six months in Spain studying abroad, explains in her article for The Washington Post that she faced her fears while she was in Spain. She stepped outside of her comfort zone to immerse herself in the culture. What impacted her the most was her interaction with the natives of the country.

The time she spent there was a huge culture shock given she was still in the Western world, but she did have to become accustomed  to the small details of daily activities. “Everybody’s study abroadexperience is intensely personal,” says Smith. The trip started as just an escape from her normal run of the mill life, but it ended up being an experience that deeply changed her life.

Smith, Adrianna. “Studying Abroad: Life Is the Key Lesson.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 08 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. Read the whole article here »

Student Spotlight: Anna Baumheckel

Picture8 RomeI can honestly say that being a part of last spring’s study abroad trip to Italy was one of the most defining times in my college experience. I was able to immerse myself in a new culture for a week, bond with some amazing classmates, and take cooking lessons in Italy; what could be better? As we traveled through Rome, Florence, and Bologna we soaked up the local culture — enjoying all the history, arts, architecture, and delicious meals possible.

My favorite stop on our whirlwind tour was definitely Florence. The charm of the city’s cobblestone streets and gelaterias on nearly every corner was captivating. The shopping was second-to-none, too!

I’m very proud to have been born andRome raised in the South, but I am so grateful I was able to take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity CBU provides to expand students’ horizons. Not only did the Chemistry of Cooking trip through Italy open my eyes to new, and old, ways of life, it also gave me a sense of empowerment. After conquering five airports, three hotels, and countless Metro stops and taxi rides within 10 days, I feel as though I could take on the world — and I just might! — Anna Baumheckel (Chemical Engineering ’15)

 

Student Spotlight (& Advice): Bijou Coulibaly

Bijou Coulibaly

Picture3 France is a beautiful place, I am glad to have been raised and educated there. But when people think of France, they usually think of Paris, or stereotypes of the cold, rude, and distant Parisian. However, just like America, France is quite big and diverse.

I was raised in Montpellier, South of France. Located on the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, it is the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice. People in Montpellier tend to be very outdoorsy because, let’s be serious, if you live in the most beautiful Area of France, why would you want to spend time inside?

Another great thing about Montpellier is that it is really close to Spain, like we are good neighbors. So it will only take you a few hours by TGV train ride to get to Spain. Words can’t express how much I love Montpellier. But I am a big traveler, for my mother is from Morocco and my father from West Africa/Mali. I had been to both places and to other places in Africa like South Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Burkina-Faso.

Picture4

I’ve also been to a lot of places in Europe like Spain (our cool neighbors), Rome, London, Paris (now I’m laughing), Switzerland, Monaco (so far my favorite), Amsterdam, and Berlin. Most people like me who have a diverse background due to both parents, who are from different countries and tend to travel a lot, but I think that being raised in a place like Montpellier also has something to do with it, because in Europe places are so close to one another that most people tend to travel to different countries taking the TGV almost every other weekend.

I would encourage CBU students to enjoy this experience, because traveling has done so much for me. It helps you know or discover different people, and trust me when I say this: you will be amazed by how people are different in both good and awkward ways. For instance: Moroccans would be really offended if you walked into their living room with your shoes on, and a Spaniard would feel insulted if you asked them do any task during Siesta time. And, of course, a typical person from Montpellier (myself) will be disappointed if you have no diverse background and have no interest in traveling around the world. So travel, explore the world, and come back here and let me know how it went! — Bijou Coulibaly (Business Administration ’16)

Stop by the Study Abroad Office and visit Bijou and discuss her adventures and upcoming trips for CBU.

Upcoming Trips

Neuville-Saint-Vaast_-_IMG_2551

Memorial at Neuville St. Vaast

Watch for Dr. Neal Palmer’s study trip on World War I sites. In France, students will visit Paris, Reims, Arras, and the battlefield memorials at Vimy Ridge, Verdun, national cemeteries at Neuville St. Vaast and Notre Dame de Lorette, and the Meaux Museum of the Great War. In Paris, we will visit the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, and more.

Other locations may include Barcelona and Shanghai. Stay tuned!

Travel Testimonials: Student Standpoint

AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA WAUFORD (Mechanical Engineering ’15)
by Keyara Baltimore

Becky

What were you most excited about before the trip?
I was excited for the overall experience. I love traveling and seeing new places and meeting new people, so I was excited about everything, really.

Describe how this study abroad trip has helped further mold your college career and ultimately your life experience in general?
I want to do something with my life that will be able to positively affect the world. I want to help solve the world’s problems. The trip inspired me to look for ways to take what I am studying and try to find a way to help people.

How did the trip affect contribute to a new potential outlook on life?
After I was treated with such kindness, I try to be very welcoming to people who are visiting — from anywhere, not just from out of the country. I also saw just exactly how fortunate we are in the U.S.

What do you feel that you gained while studying abroad through CBU?
Because I studied abroad through CBU, I got to meet other Lasallian students and teachers. The Lasallian connection that we have through CBU is incredible. We have friends all over the world. Also, because the group I was with was so small, we got to know each other, the professor, the people we met, and probably even the places we went, on a much deeper level.

What did you discover about your own culture while on the trip?
I discovered that engineering students internationally have the same personality types. I discovered how blessed we are in the US. I discovered that other countries have healthier (and really yummy!) food choices than we do. In both Mexico and Spain, people were a lot more family-focused. We sometimes take our families for granted in the States.

Editor’s Note

by Melanie Horne 

blue-grotto

The Blue Grotto

I am often flooded with questions about my experiences abroad. Therefore, I thought I would include a journal entry from my time spent in Italy this past summer. While it is impossible to gain as much insight from reading versus firsthand experience, I hope this opens your mind and broadens your awareness of the world outside our own.

Friday, June 21, 2013
“I had been looking forward to visiting the Amalfi Coast all month. Some say it’s always necessary to take a little vacation for a vacation. Driving into the Province of Salerno, I was unaware that it is the second most populated region in Italy. Judging from the location, I figured these islands became pertinent for their coastal trading. Yet, why is it that this particular coast is more famous than any other in the country? After some research, I found that the Amalfi Coast was actually popularized by a single fan — the writer John Steinbeck published a short story/article entitled ‘Positano’ in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953 and made everyone aware of its coastal splendor.

The highlight of my weekend was a trip to the Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzura). From our tour boat, we were transferred to a smaller rowboat, only seating five people. The rowers instructed us to literally lie down in the canoe-like construction. I soon realized the reason for this extreme precaution.

Upon the arrival to the Grotto, one could only enter and exit through a minuscule entryway — so small that the rowers had to lean back, held up only by the support of a chain that helped reel us into the cave. Once inside, I didn’t even notice the surrounding boats or the close proximity of the cave walls. The piercing blue color ignited within the depths of the water is a mystery to the senses. How can something this beautiful be hidden within the confines of a mountain?

Our rower allowed us to “fall out of the boat,” letting us dive into this earthly wonder. While wading, between bursts of thrill and adrenaline, pangs of guilt also came to mind. I too had just succumbed to a wave of tourist influence, obstructing the grotto’s natural beauty for the envied experience of saying I had left my mark. I suppose I can blame Christopher Columbus for this idea.”