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Breanna Mekuly
      Breanna Mekuly

Hometown: Appleton, Wisconsin
Program: CIEE Chile
Location: Santiago, Chile
Semester Abroad: Spring 2011
Major: Spanish; Religious Studies
Memorable Experience:
One of my most memorable experiences is the study abroad program trip Iquique, Chile. This city is located in the driest desert in the world. We were able to walk around in the desert heat, looking at hieroglyphics on the mountains. Later, we went to an oasis and swam in a natural hot spring. It was wonderful to experience such different landscapes and ways of the earth.

Benefits of Studying Abroad:
I have learned how to live respectfully in another culture. I have learned patience. I have learned how to be okay with failure. I have learned how to be independent and introspective. I have learned how to be okay with mistakes, getting lost, and being confused. I have learned what it's like to really miss people you love, but how to live without them near you. I have learned how to accept more food, even after I'm ultimately stuffed, because rejecting it would be rude. I have learned how to trust.

Overall, I think all these things and more that I have learned will truly benefit me personally, academically, and professionally. No matter how easy or hard the lessons were (like learning how to fail - that's still a work in progress), I think they will make me a better, stronger, less-selfish person who is more conscious of the world around me and the people around me.

Advice & Tips:
Prepare yourself academically!

Make sure you choose a program and a university that is suited for your level of Spanish-speaking. Prepare yourself for culture shock; not only in terms of family-living and friend-making culture shock, but especially in the way of academic culture shock. Some programs are very difficult academically. If you are not well-prepared in the language, there is a good possibility that you will have a hard time adapting to the different, difficult academic culture, grading system, and ways of studying.

I've heard people before say that studying abroad is so fun and easy because they never had to do any work or the grading system was really easy. Of course, I entered the semester thinking that I would learn a lot of Spanish, learn another culture, and do a little homework. I spent the majority of my time in Santiago doing homework, and I'm still not sure if I passed all my classes. I've never taken such difficult classes. I think if I were prepared for this, Spanish-fluency-wise and mentally, I may have done better and stressed less. However, I was not prepared to enter the same grading scale as the fluent native speakers in subjects that I wasn't totally comfortable with.

Think about what General Education classes you need before you go. If you're planning on taking General Education classes abroad, scope around on the university's web site, talk with your advisors here and abroad, and ask what they think about you taking a class that for you is a General Education course but is full of native speaking majors.

Study Abroad Office

Phone: (920) 403-4068
Fax: (920) 403-4083

St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181