Studying abroad, in essence, has proven to me that even in an interconnected world there is still an incredible amount of value to traveling. In America, we are blessed by the languages, cultures, food, and customs from other countries. However, having the ability to travel to these countries and witness how all these elements come together and impact their sense of identity was a privilege. Differences are not made to be shunned or erased in favor of homogeneity but rather embraced and celebrated. What I learned from Spaniards three-hour meals, English poshness, or the German’s frankness is that uniqueness is what separated their countries from every other country and makes them amazing in their own right.
Meeting new groups of students and professors, while switching environments every six weeks definitely was an adjustment. The whirlwind nature of the multi-country program forced me to immerse myself much more fully and faster than if I had been there for an entire semester. The sense of urgency and enthusiasm to explore the new home country prompted me to spend almost every day exploring on a quest to see something new. I will take this hunger to fully explore my surroundings back to Pittsburgh where I stay very centrally located in Oakland without branching out much.
Having an abundance of free time allowed me to pursue some professional goals that I had made for myself. One of the first goals I had met was to secure an internship for Summer 2019, which in past years had required tens of hours researching, applying, and networking. While abroad I relied on the professional network I had cultivated while at Pitt. I completed the application process abroad via skype and email and was offered a Procurement position at the Ford Motor Co. HQ in Dearborn, Michigan. This offer was incredibly exciting as it reduced the pressure of finding a compatible internship while enrolled in Spring classes. I also applied to become the Vice President for Supply Chain Management Club for the 2019 school year and received that confirmation. Last but not least I will be joining Tower A as an RA to freshman students when I return. I aim to inspire all of them to study abroad so they have their own amazing experiences.
I have already taken so many lessons away from study abroad as it was a constant learning process, but most, it importantly a re-learning process. It is easy and second-nature to think about things from a Westernized point of view, and not have your point of view challenged much when you are surrounded by people who come from backgrounds similar to you. While abroad Spain was dealing with succession protests from its northern province Catalonia; Britain was figuring out the logistics of Brexit; and Germany was still coping from the 2015 Refugee Crises. Being located in those countries while history was unfolding is an experience I will never forget. I am incredibly grateful to all the departments at Pitt, the study abroad office, donors, and my parents who were able to facilitate such a life-changing semester for me.