I have wanted to study abroad for about as long as I have known that I also wanted to study international relations and diplomacy. The world is full of amazing opportunities, and I wanted the chance to see what there was to offer is a place that is different from Midwest, USA, where I have spent most of my life. I always knew studying abroad was great for me in terms of learning more about the world and gaining cultural knowledge, but after spending 5 weeks living and studying in Valencia, Spain, I also realized how studying abroad would help my hopeful future career as a foreign service officer.
One of the biggest responsibilities of anyone who works in international relations is to be able to connect and communicate with people a different culture. Studying in Spain gave me the opportunity to practice that skill. I spoke to so many interesting and different people with whom I was able to build connections and while interacting, I learned so much about the Spanish culture and people. Even if I don’t end up working in Spain, the ability to practice these skills while abroad was incredibly helpful for my future career.
Being involved with international work means there is a lot of travel involved. Studying in Spain was a wonderful opportunity to travel on my own in a foreign country. Being able to navigate new cities, modes of transportation, and all the challenges that come with travel in a calm and organized way is a great skill to have for my future career and practicing it in a country where I had to it all in a foreign language was even more useful.
Speaking of a foreign language, I think that unique opportunity was the most useful skill I gained by studying abroad. When I hopefully work abroad, language skills will be incredibly important in both my work hours and leisure hours. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to practice Spanish in many different scenarios – with my host mom, professors, waiters, fellow students, and many more. This was incredibly useful, especially with sustained practice over time, because I had to think on my feet and react to diverse types of conversations and topics of conversation that often tested my vocabulary. It helped me grow as a Spanish speaker in general, but it also helped me learn to think on my feet and gain confidence in my ability to hold a conversation with new people. Even if I work in a non-Spanish speaking country, this experience gave me the confidence in myself to build connections with many different people.
My experience in Spain was an incredibly eye-opening trip. I had a lot of fun, and I saw many amazing things. But, one of the most impactful experiences was seeing how everything I was learning would be useful down the road in my future career. Opening myself up to new opportunities in Spain was one of the smartest choices I could make for my future career.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.