Hannah studied abroad in Seville, Spain and now works as a Program Associate for CEA Global Education.
Where did you go to school?
Where and when did you study abroad?
Seville, Spain – Fall 2009 – Universidad de Sevilla
What was the BEST part about studying abroad?
Reading how the Spanish menus were translated into English was always hilarious. I loved running along the river, Rio de Guadalquivir, each day and people watching. I loved nannying for two children of a professor. Feeling challenged 24/7 was exhilarating. I thoroughly enjoyed not driving, but rather using public transit or my feet to get around.
What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
I learned more about my own country than anywhere else while I was abroad. My ultimate take away from studying abroad was that I will always see the world through an American’s eyes. It sounds silly as I type it now, but I can never erase what I know. I can only gain new knowledge and expand on it.
What was your BIGGEST challenge when studying abroad?
Having my passport and wallet stolen on the way to fly back to the U.S. and to top it off it was snowing in Madrid and every departing flight was canceled. Wow – talk about a challenge. After being extremely careful with my wallet for four months, the worst of the worst happened on my final day. I had to figure out how to get an emergency passport and a new flight, all while I had NO money. Luckily, it ended up all working out fine – I went to the embassy and was also able to get a ticket for a flight the next day. Overall it was very overwhelming and stressful, but I learned so much from that trying experience. I am confident that it will not happen again, but if it does, at least I know what to do!
How did studying abroad change your life? How did it help you personally and professionally?
A few skills I have gained from studying abroad include learning how to deal with ambiguity, how to communicate across cultures & language barriers, and to be culturally sensitive to name a few. These have helped me become a more understanding person and a more adaptable employee.
What have you been doing post studying abroad?
Once I graduated I took an AmeriCorps position in Phoenix, Arizona. After my year of service I was lucky enough to find a study abroad organization, CEA Global Education, based right in the Phoenix area. I now work as the Program Associate in the Development Department. I work closely with our international staff to support them in all of the work they do onsite. I never thought of a career in study abroad while I was in school, but I am very happy with where I landed.
What’s your BEST piece of advice for a student who is thinking about studying abroad?
Remember that you are not traveling abroad, you are living abroad. Become invested in the city – join a club, get a part time job, do something that makes you feel as if you are living there and truly part of the community. Not only will this help prevent homesickness and provide a sense of belonging, but you will also probably meet some unique people this way.
Do travel on some weekends, but make sure you soak up the city you are living in. My goal was to leave saying that I really knew southern Spain, so I traveled around Andalusia and made sure to stay in Seville many weekends. That was much more valuable than just bopping around from one popular European city to the next (and cheaper!).