As I come to the end of my undergraduate career and my position as an AIFS Alumni Ambassador, I think about all the great things that come from staying involved with my study abroad experience.
Being able to finish college in four years wasn’t as easy as a lot of people make it seem but I tried my best to do so. Along the way there were many obstacles and tough decisions I had to make in order to be where I am, but one decision that I never thought twice about was studying abroad.
Studying abroad brought me so many great experiences, but it also helped me make friends for a lifetime. I, like many at my university, lived in Granada, Spain in the spring of 2016. Before I decided where to go I had some help from my advisor who ironically was an AIFS alum who had studied in Granada. Her passion for the way she talked about the city and all of the wonderful things to do there was the winning ticket for me. I immediately got home and researched it. It may seem funny but I even made a Pinterest board called “Granada, Spain” with some pictures of the places I would go! I had never been so excited about anything in my life, so in Spring 2015 I started to plan my trip. I was lucky enough to visit Madrid in high school, so I kind of had a sense of what to expect when I got to Granada, but my expectations were surpassed.
As I sit here reminiscing about my time abroad, I think about how it has shaped who I am and who I will become. As an undergrad, I will receive my Bachelors of Science in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Service and a minor in Criminology. Everyone asks, what’s next? And to that I reply that I will be going to the University of Southern California – USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work to get my Master’s Degree in Social Work.
My Master’s program even has a Global Immersion Program! Every spring they take students to different parts of the world to gain knowledge and insights on social work policies and practices outside of their communities, which will then allow the students to bring this new knowledge to their social work profession. In a sense, this is a form of studying abroad. After studying abroad in Granada, I definitely got the travel bug, so this experience will be very beneficial for me. Not only do I get to go to another country but I also get to learn about their policies and use that information help me choose what type of social worker I want to become.
Being an AIFS Alumni Ambassador has also helped me because now I am more knowledgable about other places around the world. Being able to hear my fellow Ambassadors talk about the cities they lived and studied abroad in allowed me to better inform prospective study abroad participants at my school about what lies beyond California and the United States.
In addition to knowledge, I acquired professional skills. I am able to express myself without being afraid of doing so as well as have more confidence in what I say. I may not always be correct but I feel confident and that’s a great trait because a lot of the times people don’t have the confidence to speak up.
Having been an Ambassador my senior year was truly a great experience. I hope other students take advantage of this opportunity because it truly does benefit and it helps us think about our future adventures.