(Erika's 4th from the right - with a bunch of Spanish Smurfs!)
We’re all big fans of our feisty and go-getter study abroad student, Erika, who’s currently in London. So, we had a Skype chat with her to find out what she’s been up to the past month and here’s the deal:
Erika had a friend visit her mid/late March. They hopped around London, went to Bristol to see Civil Wars (a band from Nashville) and did all the great touristy things. She then had a week free to complete & submit two papers before classes ended March 29th. The exam period starts April 30th but hers don’t start till May 11th so she has had a 6 week break to study for finals. Exams will be for around 2 hours each and she’ll be completing topics in these three areas: Building the American Nation 1763-1917; German History 1890-1990; American 20th Century. Exams 11, 14, 21st and leave may 22nd. All light & romcom type topics she chose (NOT!)
This is the really cool part and why study abroad is so critical! Erika went to Alicante, South East Spain for the 1st two weeks of April, for a 2 week intensive course in Spanish. She was a bit nervous to go but this trip absolutely flipped her over. She’s not taken Spanish for 3 years so wasn’t sure if she’d be thumbs up or down. Erika stayed in a flat with a few others including a new BFF French gal. She adored Spanish, her classes were amazing, the teachers were incredible and since everyone on & off campus spoke Spanish, she picked it up really quickly again. Not all students are in Alicante for 2 weeks, some are there for 10 weeks so the mix of students vary quite quickly – it’s a good constant shake up of people arriving & departing. She wanted to visit Barcelona but got sick. Nevertheless, it didn’t dramatically affect her since she loved Alicante and this trip changed her next studying path. This is the stuff that study abroad is made of – read on!
Originally Erika was set to go to Boston and continue studying Arabic when she returned back from study abroad, but this Alicante trip has changed all that. When she returns, her 1st semester will be back at Georgia State and switched her foreign language credit to Spanish. Not only is this new plan more cost effective (Boston was going to cost $3k) but it’s her absolute passion. She’ll try study Arabic independently to keep up with what she’s already learned but Spanish…this is her new love.
See, this is the thing about study abroad – it’s not about knowing what you like to pursue but more like knowing what you don’t want to continue doing! And if you have your eyes and mind wide open, you do see new opportunities that really accentuate your career & passion path. Erika found this out and acted immediately. Why stick with a plan when the option to achieve a more meaningful path hit Erika right between the eyes, so she jumped on the opportunity. We think this is brilliant! On the last day of Alicante, her teacher also gave her a great validation confirming she was doing great. Now she’d like to work over the next few months at a part time job to raise some funds and come back possibly for Winter 2012 for a few weeks – or even venture to South America.
To add a double thumbs up to this story, Erika also got an A in her last paper – a huge improvement than the prior result (B-). Exams are worth around 75% of the semester, yet the 25% of papers submitted are still important in helping understand cultural differences of how education varies per country. If you can’t adapt to the culture, it affects your grades. When in Rome…or Alicante!
We’ll get a final update from Erika after she returns to the USA late May. This blog post was insanely inspiring and a great example of how study abroad changes your life & career. Get it, retain it…now do it!
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