Por Última Vez

¡Hola Todxs!

If I am being honest, I am at a loss for words on how to start this blog post. I have experienced so much during my eight weeks abroad and have learned so much more than I ever expected that I am having trouble trying to sum it all up. While I am not surprised with how much I fell in love with Spain, or my host family, or my job, I am surprised by how much I feel changed by it. Before I left, I felt like I knew exactly who I was and what I saw for my future, but Spain modified those things. I left this study abroad program feeling rejuvenated and alive. I believe I am now better capable of adapting to new situations, whether it is a personal or professional situation. I also left Spain more confident than ever in my communication skills and with a new appreciation for different cultures and lifestyles. Every part of this experience has been informative, eye-opening, and just simply enjoyable.

For me, the most change I have seen is within the professional setting. Working at Smileat allowed me to improve both my technical and interpersonal skills. On the technical side, I was given the opportunity to learn and use Odoo, an open-source ERP and CRM system, advance my Excel knowledge by organizing current inventory levels and forecasting future purchasing amounts, and gained a better understanding of reverse logistics through processing e-commerce returns daily. Additionally, my professional written and spoken communication abilities increased exponentially, especially because I needed to utilize both English and Spanish. A large portion of my tasks included supporting the Supply Chain and Purchasing Director by researching and contacting suppliers for various products, including but not limited to ice cream molds, organic purees, and road transportation. This responsibility taught me how to craft an email which is direct and precise while also being professional (and also what is considered to be “professional” in the Spanish culture and language). Lastly, another large part of my time at Smileat included me reading, analyzing, and presenting solutions to various business cases. These cases enabled me to not only learn more about logistics and purchasing, but also to use my knowledge from previous classes to try to develop an approach which optimized resources and time. Overall, these varied assignments, left me with a greater comprehension of supply chain management and enhanced skills that will help me succeed in this field in the future.

On the personal side, I would say I have grown a lot as well. During my study abroad program I did not feel like I was changing, and I truly believed that although my life in Spain was widely different than my life in the United States, I would come home the same as I left. However, after being home for a week, I now realize how wrong I was. However, I can’t pinpoint the difference, I just feel it. Spain gave me the space to be more independent than I have ever been and to take time to be by myself and appreciate my own presence. I built a whole life there. I had a daily routine. I made new friends. I found new hobbies. I guess the largest takeaway from it all is that I now know just how adaptable I can be. While some points during my experience were overwhelming, such as being constantly confused by the language for the first few weeks or trying to notice and remember all the little habits of my host family in order to be respectful of their space, I still managed to create a life I loved living and find people and places I felt comfortable around. There is now no doubt in my mind that if I find myself facing a new situation, whether it be in the professional setting or personal setting, all I have to do is take a deep breath and remind myself that if I was able to go to a foreign country for two months, live with a family I didn’t know, speak a language that is not my native one, and still come out of it not only standing but feeling better than ever, I can face anything new.

In conclusion, I can’t really tell you all just how much I’ve changed from this experience, but the one thing I can say without a doubt, is that I left Spain better than when I arrived and that it will always feel like home to me.

For the last time…

¡Hasta Luego!

Saoirse Hopp