What Seville Has Taught Me
I can’t believe I’m saying this – but, I return back to the United States in under two weeks. This semester abroad has been the most exhilarating whirlwind of an experience. It’s only been four months, yet I feel I’ve gained a lifetime of knowledge about myself and the world around me. I’ve traveled to more countries in this short amount of time than I have in my entire life and I’ve made connections that will endure any length of time or distance.
Overall, I feel that I have learned so many valuable skills from this international internship and study abroad experience that I will carry with me wherever I go and will serve me in any context. After living outside of my comfort zone for four months in a foreign country and foreign workplace, my confidence has grown immensely. I know that I have what it takes to adapt, learn, be humble, ask questions, and thrive in an unfamiliar setting. I didn’t quit when I faced challenges or when things got difficult – I persevered. I know that I have a lot of offer and feel confident in my ability to meet and surpass expectations in a future internship in the United States.
Through my internship I have learned to be flexible, adaptable, think in a globally-minded manner, improve my Spanish comprehension and oral skills, to be prepared to work in a multicultural setting, and to embrace and represent company values. I have learned the importance of taking initiative and finding my own sense of internal motivation. It was a big challenge to see other Spanish interns be able to understand and perform at a higher level than me, building trust faster, developing relationships, handling tasks with more proficiency. It was hard on my self-esteem at first, but then I remembered that it was I who had put myself in another culture, willing to challenge my sense of comfort and sense of humility. I know that if they had come to the United States to do what I do, they would be struggling just as much.
Spain has taught me that stress isn’t always necessary to live a happy, successful life and that sometimes it’s okay to take things slow. I’ve developed a much higher tolerance for ambiguity and a deeper sense of empathy for second language learners and those who travel to foreign countries to live and work. Despite cultural differences, potential language barriers and geographical distance, I have learned that people all around the world are generally the same – we all experience the same emotions, fears, insecurities, and sense of belonging. With the little exposure to foreign elements and people that many of my Spanish coworkers and peers had, they welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts and for that I am unbelievably grateful.
If I were to give some advice for future study abroad student: try to branch out from your other American friends and make connections with locals, travel as much as you can (but don’t fret if you don’t get to see everything), and make the most of your time abroad – those four months will fly by faster than you can imagine!
Amanda P. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger and international intern in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Senior studying Global Studies & Communications at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.