Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Global Student - Day 1

As a participant of the Intrax StudyAbroad, I was one of four students selected to particpate in a pilot online course known as Global Student. Sponsored and run by Loyola Marymount University in California, the program walks me through the steps of becoming more prepared for my trip. It includes a fair amount of research and writing. Unfortunately, the blog that I WAS recording my Global Student work on, will no longer let me in, so here I am starting over again.

A. Top Ten Reasons to Study Abroad:

1. Learn a language in the country where it is spoken
The only way to become truly fluent and have command of a language is to be fully immersed in it. In a situation where you are forced to fend for yourself, learning a language becomes much easier. In an immersion experience where everyone else is speaking that language, your body will naturally reciprocate and soon your thoughts, speech and dreams will all be in that language.

2. Gain perspective on my own country and culture
I hope that traveling abroad will allow me to personally connect with a different culture. Studying abroad allows for the rare opportunity to have the perspective of being outside the fish bowl looking in as opposed to trapped inside. Hopefully, by learning a different culture and comparing it to the US, I will learn more about the United States and the perceptions it has abroad.

3. Make Connections that will last a life time
Having just come back from England and realizing the vast number of friends that I made over there, I am very optimistic about the potential networking in Spain. As someone who long term wants to work internationally, right now I am merely building my network. Already I have connections in England and now I want to expand that to Spain. I realize that many times the best opportunities come from those you know.

4. Learn about yourself and gain independence
For the past year, I have struggled when it comes to defining myself. I have not been able to decide what kind of person I want to be/ what type of person I already am. In Spain, I will be thrown into new situations daily and for the first part of the trip before I make friends, I will be alone. I want to figure who I am and this kind of situation is perfect for self discovery.

5. I've been learning history, economics, literature, and current events all from the perspective of the U.S. and I want to broaden my horizons by learning how other people look at the world.
The primary reason that things don't get done in the world is because everyone is restricted by their own bias. It is inevitable. However, traveling abroad and cultural immersion are the first steps to lessening that bias. I'm not saying that bias can be diminished, however, I do believe that bias can be altered to become more rationale by understanding others perspective.

6. Relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world rely on knowledgeable people who can speak from the perspective of having live abroad. Prejudice and ignorance are some of the biggest problems standing in the way of a better understanding between two countries people.
Like number 5, I hope to be a force that can break down this barrier by thoroughly understanding the different perspectives of the world.

7. I will create a whole social network in Spain.
It requires great communications skills to create a vast network, not to mention when the language is entirely different. Great communication skills are a must in 99% of jobs.

8. Resume builder
Today, many colleges and universities are starting to better understand the benefits of studying abroad. Many important life lessons are learned and they recognize that someone who has successfully completed a study abroad has a large amount of maturity, independence and sense of humor. Also, many companies desire people who can successfully live in a variety of countries and work with staff from different cultural backgrounds.

9. See the world
Although tourist trips are nice and pleasant, they miss so much of what makes a country so beautiful (apart from its monuments, museums and ruins). During an extended stay in Spain, I hope to delve deeper into the Spanish culture than I would if I were merely visiting. I want to become a local and become comfortable in the Spanish environment.

10. Experience hands-on learning
School Spanish is helpful however, you can only learn so much from being lecture. Being active and hands-on is the only way to truly grasp a concept. You need to figure it out for yourself, not just be told how to do.

B. What are you most looking forward to?:

1. Establishing a strong command of and comfort with the Spanish language
2. Creating a large network of friends and new family
3. Looking at the world with a different perspective
4. An opportunity to discover who I want to be
5. Living more spontaneously and relaxed - sometimes I just care about everything too much!)

C. What are you most worried about?

1. THE LANGUAGE!! - not being able to communicate what I want to say/understanding others
2. Not liking the food..
3. Unintentionally offending someone
4. Being lonely/overwhelmed
5. Not getting along with my host family

D. What are you going to miss most?

1. My family and my friends
2. Ability to play music (guitar, piano, singing)
3. American food
4. Sailing
5. People speaking English

E. What will you miss the least?

1. Self-imposed pressure regarding school, sailing, COLLEGE
2. Obsession with celebrities
3. Competition over EVERYTHING
4. How everyone (including myself) is very wound up and uptight - not spontaneous or relaxed
5. Fast food restaurants

F. The single greatest challenge for me will be:

For me, the greatest challenge will definitely be the language barrier. I am terrified that I won't know what I have to say when I need to say it, or understand what I have to when I need to. What if I completely butcher the language and nobody understands me?! Ahh!

"Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

This quote not only represents my feelings about going abroad, but it is also one of my life philosophies. Although I am only sixteen, I am very cynical regarding U.S. politics. I think that we have made far too many deadly mistakes and I think that change in our foreign policy is a must. This is why I want to work for the government. I want to be the change and help initiate the change that I hope to see in the world. By traveling abroad now, I am taking the first steps into understanding specifically what kind of change the world needs. I will be gaining different perspective and understandings of what we have messed up, and what we have done right. Studying abroad for me is the first step for me to become the change that I want to make happen.


First and foremost, I hope that my three month trip to Spain will help me establish a strong command of the Spanish language. I also hope that I will create a large network of friends that I can continue to keep in touch with. In Spain, I know there will be many times where I will be thrown into uncomfortable situations. I look at these situations as a way to handle them maturely and become more comfortable with who I am and the decisions that I make. I also see Spain as a wonderful opportunity to push my limits and determine what I can and can not handle in order to learn my own strengths and weaknesses. I want to find myself and I believe that Spanish culture will definitely allow that. Apart from self discovery, I also want to gain a better understanding of the United States presence abroad as well as how we are perceived internationally. Finally, I want to broaden my horizons and learn about the world from a non-American point of view.

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