Let me start by saying, I have an impressive resume. I started working at 16 years old, and I tended to work with the same company and work my way up. At only 21 years old, I was managing a restaurant and at the same time I was working my first internship in Public Relations. Plus, I have been a 4.0 student for all three years of college.
I know it seems like I am bragging, but I promise I am not. I am extremely proud of all I have accomplished in my life, but with that being said, why would I choose to include a semester abroad on my resume? The answer is simple. Studying abroad changed my outlook on life, specifically work-life balance.
A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Sevilla with another ISA student. While we were walking through the colorful and lively streets, we were discussing our perspectives on our experiences here in Madrid. My fellow ISA student was talking about how much she was enjoying her time here, but at the same time she was looking forward to going home and finishing her education. Listening to her talk about her perspective gave me the opportunity to understand my own better.
For the first time in my life, my life doesn’t seem paused. My entire life I have been working towards something, even if I didn’t know what I was working towards at the time. I have spent years working full time, attending school full time, and spending what little free time I had trying to add things to my resume. At the time it seemed fine, but being here in Madrid gave me the chance to live for the first time.
Since I have been here, I have traveled all over Spain, met new people, became immersed in a new culture, and taken the time to do things for myself that aren’t just resume builders . . . they are simply things that bring me happiness in that moment. For example, trying all the best heladerias in Madrid (and trust me there are a lot to try).
And this is definitely something any employer would like to hear. Maintaining a work-life balance is extremely important: it lowers absenteeism, increases productivity, and lowers the most common workplace health issue (chronic stress). While it has taken me a long time to figure this out, this is a life-skill I need to make the most out of both my career and my daily life.
I am not trying to say that I have spent my life being miserable, because that isn’t the truth. But I will admit I have always placed school and work above all other things. I missed out on things I would have enjoyed because I felt guilty taking time away from my “future”. This time I have had abroad has helped me to see that I can be working towards things, while also taking part in the enjoyable parts of life (like my final months abroad in Spain).
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