Friday, December 17, 2010

Why I chose to study abroad you all probably have your own guesses as to why I chose to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. Is it because everyone else is doing it? Absolutely not. Is it because I want to live a glamorous life in a foreign country? Partially.

The real reason?

I wanted to challenge myself. I have never been one for molds; I have ALWAYS made my own decisions and moved to the beat of my own drum. To be perfectly honest, my American college, St. Michael's, can feel quite small. I needed a break. I needed to explore another region of the world and start my next chapter of growth and development.

I did not choose the same city or program as my friends. Much like applying for college, I felt it would be more beneficial for me to place myself in a foreign environment; forcing myself to adapt, make new friends, and explore myself in a new locale.

I have been learning Spanish since I was in sixth grade. My family hails from these little islands, known as the Azores Islands, off the coast of Portugal; everyone could speak Portuguese, yet I knew nothing and was never taught. The compromise? Me taking the initiative to learn Spanish, a similar yet vastly different European tongue. I remember being fascinated with the language from day one: the sounds, the written word, the accents, upside-down question marks and exclamation points...what can I say? I'm a sucker for the language.

I was actually supposed to be in Spain during my Fall semester at SMC. I planned on studying in Salamanca, Spain with AIFS; unfortunately, finances worked against me in being able to do so. I was sad, but had eventually decided that I would remain at SMC rather than spending a semester abroad. I became complacent, alright with the fact that I would be staying with my great friends at my great school. I was in a relationship with a great guy at the time; unfortunately, we were on two different planes. The ending of this relationship caused me to re-evaluate my life, who I surrounded myself with, and what my future plans were.

I couldn't think on campus, so I took the initiative to get a job waiting tables at Applebee's and became a peer tutor for Spanish students. I was also working part time in the Student Activities office for my Federal Work Study. I frequently researched study abroad programs online while I sat there, waiting for the Student Activities phone to ring.

***And then, it suddenly hit me:***

Why not? Why NOT apply to a program, take some time out for myself, and get my life back together. In the process, I would be learning more about myself and growing as a student, learner, and free spirit.

I met with the Study Abroad Director, as well as the head of the Spanish (Modern Languages) Department. It was settled and sorted. API: Madrid, Spain--Complutense University, Spanish Culture program. My course was set.

I continued to work hard at Applebee's, serving dishes with a HUGE smile and silently refilling drinks as often as possible in an effort to make a 20%+ tip each and every time. I told tables about my plan in the hopes of making more, too. (It couldn't hurt, right?) Although I did not make as much as I planned, I am still excited. I won't be able to travel as much as some of my friends, but I'll be in SPAIN in less than four weeks! I've worked hard for four months for this, and I intend on meeting as many people as possible.

And hitting up every last dance club.

And smiling.

And taking TONS of pictures.

And being extremely thankful for what my hard work and dedication have fostered: the trip of a life time.

For now, I'm going to continue to blast some Rihanna and check out the orientation page on the API website. Keep your eyes posted for my next rant...hope this was as entertaining for you to read as it was for me to write.

~Live, love, and prosper.

1 comment:

  1. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! alex, you're going to have THE time of your life! i'm soooooo excited for you, but i'm going to miss you, quite terribly. I'm so proud of how hard you've worked for this. I have no idea what i'm gonna do without you, except sit in my suite and be incredibly jealous! at least we'll always have rihanna to keep us together!
    <3 <3 <3