Even though she's a self-declared "homebody," sophomore Kaitlin McNicholas decided last year to expand her worldview beyond the United States.
So, in December and January, McNicholas spent a few weeks in Italy in the towns of Rome, Assisi, Florence, and Milan. She completed a Winterim Study Abroad experience, which is considerably shorter than staying in another country for a semester.
Like so many students who didn't know if Study Abroad was something they wanted to do – and then took the plunge anyway – McNicholas said she was glad to have pushed her limits.
Read below about her Study Abroad experience.
"In Assisi, we took a pre-dawn hike to the top of Ermete. When I reached the top I was able to release all the negative events in my past and leave them on top of the mountain. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and all it has done to change my life for the better."
What is your favorite memory?
Seeing the resting place and remains of [our patron] Saint Ambrose. I already love it here at St. Ambrose, and I am happy with my decision to come here, so seeing the actual resting place of Ambrose made me very emotional. Not a lot of people get to experience what we did during the trip, which made me feel very blessed.
What was the hardest part of studying in a different country?
Getting used to the time difference and everything that comes with traveling was the first challenge. Also getting accustomed to a different culture was very difficult (culture shock). The disrespectful ways that the men treat women was a bit shocking. We also had to be aware of our surroundings, because we noticed others trying to pickpocket us everywhere.
See the World and Yourself in a New Light
At Ambrose, we believe each student should be exposed to new ways of looking at yourself and the world, and one of the best ways to do this is by studying abroad.
How did your Study Abroad experience impact you?
To be honest I wasn't sure if studying abroad was going to be for me. Even leading up to the trip and during the trip, I had a lot of anxiety.
But, this experience allowed me to grow and mature in ways I didn't know I could. Especially, in Assisi, we took a pre-dawn hike to the top of Ermete. When I reached the top, I was able to release all the negative events in my past and leave them on top of the mountain. I'm so grateful for the opportunity and all it has done to change my life for the better.
Do you have any advice for students wanting to study abroad?
To be completely honest: every email I used to get about studying abroad went straight to the trash. I never saw myself as a study abroad type of person.
Now, I would advise students to consider it and not just shut out the idea completely. You should really think about it and give it a chance. If you're someone who's more of a homebody – like me – I would recommend going for a short study abroad program rather than those offered for a full semester.