Baigin Thiel is a student at the University of Kentucky and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.
For anyone, making the choice to study abroad is a huge change. We are leaving the comfortable environment of our home universities, our friends on campus that have become like family, and the daily routines we are so accustomed to. Choosing to leave behind what we’ve come to know so well for the last two or three years is scary at first, but it opens our hearts and minds to new experiences and ways of living that we might not have even realized existed otherwise. We have an idea of what we think it will be like to spend a semester going to school in a foreign country and we can prepare as much as possible until our planes leave the ground, but ultimately, we have to learn to adapt and roll with the punches.
Similarly, as a college student in the United States, we are constantly working towards making a plan for after graduation and preparing to enter the work force. We have put in the hours studying and watched the adults around us work tirelessly to become successful in their careers throughout our lives, but at the end of the day, when we graduate and find our first jobs, we’ll have to learn to adapt and roll with the punches.
Although I’ve only been in Barcelona for one month exactly, I can already tell that choosing to study abroad was the best decision I could have made in preparing myself to enter the work force. Although as students, we make those treks to the painfully early 8 AM classes and ace exam after exam, the best learning we can truly do is outside the classroom. When we interact with the local people, work through those language barriers ordering our morning coffee, travel with people we’ve only known for two weeks, and learn to navigate a new city on our own, we are preparing ourselves in the best way possible to thrive in the work force. This is because we’re learning to be adaptable.
Speaking from personal experience, you can think that you are a flexible person in your comfortable bubble at home, but you don’t really know how adaptable you can be until you’re taken out of that comfort zone and forced to learn your way through those tough situations away from what you’ve always known. I believe that being able to continue to grow this skill of adaptability throughout my time abroad and beyond is only going to make me a more valuable employee in the future. When I’m given a tough project and am busy finding my place in a new company, I will, once again, have the ability to adapt and roll with the punches.
As a new employee straight out of college, I imagine you are so excited to get established in a career and start making a life for yourself, but you really have no idea what the daily 9-5 routine or the culture in your new company is going to be like. I can already tell that having the ability in that moment to look back on my time in Barcelona and recall how I was able to take the unknown of an exciting, yet slightly uncomfortable new chapter and turn it into the most incredible period of personal growth is going to be absolutely irreplaceable.
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