PROGRAM: Spain – SJSU Exchange – Toulouse Business School – Barcelona Campus
I chose to study abroad because it has always been a dream of mine to live in another country, especially during my younger years-an opportunity not many get. I also have traveled many times before so I felt comfortable going alone- and was very excited to.
Reflect on how your study abroad experience and the skills, knowledge, or networking has enhanced or contributed to your life back on campus or home.
I opened my mind to new cultures in many different ways. I learned cooking, dancing, and even just a difference in communicating, with many different cultures. I also learned many customs of different cultures, which have broadened my perspective on what I knew my previous world to be.
Reflect on the personal, academic, and professional goals that you had set out to achieve on your study abroad experience?
Personal: Become more independent and open my mind to new things- see what I prefer and don’t prefer as much. Academic: Be able to experience learning in a new environment to see if I learned better or not as well as in the States. Professional: Learn more about different manners, expectations, and worth ethics of people around the world. Also network. I achieved all of them!
I formed many meaningful friendships- some even deeper within the short amount of time I had formed them in comparison to some relationships I’ve had in the States. I learned that most European and some Latin American people seem to show lots of genuine care and appreciation to everyone, even if they had just met you. Conversations are deeper, they are more heartfelt and meaningful.
Share what courses you chose to take abroad and the strategies you used to ensure your academic success. How has the experience impacted your academics now that you have returned to SJSU?
I took courses on Marketing and Ethics. A lot of assignments were group-project based, so I did my best to do my part while also making sure that the group- most of them with English as a second language- were on the same page. I must admit though: going to a school with primarily French-speaking students- there was a lot of pressure I put on myself to not look like the “dumb American”. Blunt, but that was my experience as one of the two Americans in the entire school. At the end of the day, I am so proud of myself for never letting that pressure stop me from being the charismatic person I am and making so many friends-even with the initially reserved French students (One who I soon ended up dating actually). Although the different teaching styles made it hard at times- I had to keep an open mind and persevere. Returning home, I have used some new skills and perspectives I had collected abroad to do things differently than before.
My immersion has completely changed the view I have of the world and even my day-today life. All of a sudden I can bring a second perspective into the picture for almost every single situation in my life, as I have experienced the world in a completely different way than I was used to before. It has made me become an even more accepting and simultaneously curious person.
Study abroad has prepared me for my future by teaching me to be open and accepting of new things, even some which may push me out of my comfort zone, and most importantly; made me more independent and fearless.
Be open to anything. Meet new people. Eat funny things. Try to learn the language but even if you struggle – don’t be afraid to talk to those around you. Step out of your comfort zone. You traveled to this country knowing nobody- so don’t be afraid to go on solo dates with yourself when you haven’t made friends yet- even just as simple as a walk around your new neighborhood. You’re still young- go out more during the day and or night. Once you do this you will find even more to do, and establish even more connections. You will realize how quickly a 24-hour day passes, and some days there’s so much to do- it’s almost hard to choose. Give yourself mental rest when needed, of course, but don’t allow yourself to come back wishing you could’ve done more.