My name is Steph Spirk. I’m currently a junior majoring in Global Management with a concentration in Spanish, a minor in German, and a certificate in Leadership and Ethics. I absolutely love Pitt, but I think my love of traveling may be a bit bigger, as this will actually be my third time studying abroad!
I’m an original yinzer, growing up in the suburb of North Versailles, but then when I was ten I moved to a very small town called Brockway. The first time I left the country was in 2014 to live in a small town in Germany for about a month through an exchange program with my high school. Living with a host family and exploring the culture of Germany was such an eye-opening and enriching experience that definitely had an impact on the course of my life. I caught the travel bug for sure, and hope to be able to incorporate traveling as a part of my future career.
The first opportunity I had to study abroad through Pitt was to lead the first ever service learning project alongside my fellow PBL members in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This was a consulting project where we worked with a non-governmental organization in Bolivia, hoping to use marketing tactics to increase the center’s revenue stream. We spent the spring semester taking a class to prepare our scope of work, and then traveled to Cochabamba for spring break, where we were able to really realize the impact that we could make on this organization.
Then, last summer, I participated in the International Internship Program, where I interned in Madrid, Spain for a startup equity crowdfunding platform called SociosInversores. There, I worked as a business and community developer, learning about the European regulatory landscape and developing content for an EU-wide crowdfunding site. I absolutely loved life in Madrid; I didn’t want to leave.
I wasn’t expecting to study abroad again, but once I learned about the Universitat Pompeu Fabra exchange program, I knew I had to look more into it. This program is an exchange, so I would be the only Pitt student studying in Barcelona, and I would have to find housing and schedule classes all on my own. I knew it would be a bit stressful, but I truly feel like I am ready for this experience to exercise my independence and grow my self-confidence while working on my language skills, too.
Although Barcelona is still technically a part of Spain, there are significant cultural differences between this city and Madrid. Therefore I am very eager to note these differences and compare these two experiences based on the knowledge I have so far of the situation.
On each of the trips I have been on, I have had the support and comfort of having other students from Pitt by my side. Even though I didn’t know most of the students on my trip beforehand, I ended up making lifelong friends. However, this time I won’t have this support system. I am a little bit nervous for this aspect of my experience, but my excitement outweighs it. I am ready to test my limits and grow as a person on many different levels: personal, professional, and academic.
I cannot believe that the fall semester is already over and that I leave for Barcelona in just 14 days! My excitement is growing more and more each day.
Hasta pronto, Barcelona!