The idea of spending a semester abroad always appealed to me because I was born and raised in Louisville and haven’t been away from this city for more than a week or so. Therefore, coming into college, I knew I wanted to participate in some sort of study abroad program to experience a different city and culture for a longer period of time. Since, my minors are Spanish and International Business, I decided that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country for a semester. I wasn’t completely sure how I would handle the separation from my friends and family for so long, but I knew it was something I needed to do for myself to grow as a person. I spent months planning and debating where to study, which programs to go through, and what classes to take. I reached out to nearly everyone I knew that had previously studied abroad what they did and how their experiences were. I finally chose Sevilla, Spain because I wanted a large city with a smaller town feel that would have a strong Spanish culture.
Studying abroad turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. Being independent of my family and friends for an entire semester helped me gain self-reliance and general life skills I never would have gained back home. I’ll admit that I was put in mildly uncomfortable situations on a regular basis…but this wasn’t a bad thing at all. If anything, it taught me a lot about myself and how to handle any situation that is thrown at you. Whether it was miscommunicating with locals on a daily basis or missing the wrong stop on the metro, I learned a significant amount about handling problems and high-stress situations in a calm and logical manner.
Additionally, communicating with my host parents and locals on a daily basis helped improve my proficiency in Spanish; however, what contributed the most was the linguistic exchange program I signed up for. It essentially paired me up with a local student from Universidad de Sevilla and I would meet up with her every week and we would go to her favorite restaurants and other spots in the area and I would practice my Spanish and she would practice her English. It helped me become better accommodated to the city and the culture of Sevilla. My professors and host parents also showed me the European perspective of the United States which was not only eye-opening but also refreshing to see how other countries thought of us. The classes I took helped me realize that I’m very interested in the concept of globalization and pursuing a career in international business.
Overall, my study abroad experience improved my perspective on not only business, but the world in general. I think every student should take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad because they will learn a significant amount about themselves and develop general life skills that they aren’t necessarily able to develop in the U.S. You can only benefit from stepping outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis and experiencing new places and cultures however often you can.