As my semester has progressed, my soft skills have gained a whole lot of attention. The soft skill that I feel has been most worked on that maybe had not of been as focused on had I not been abroad, was teamwork. Although when I say teamwork, I mean beyond just the classroom. For me, studying abroad has forced me to find and create a team every place I go. It has made me work together whether it be making plans, travel itinerary or language barriers; traveling to all these different countries has taught me the importance and need for this skill outside of just school. School of course is a majorly reliant on your teamwork skills as well and so has required me to use them in almost every aspect of my life abroad. For me this has been very bizarre, I am an independent worker and have always been one because in the States it is more stressed than group work. The very few times that group work was required back home, the work felt very disconnected. Here that has changed drastically, teachers will notice when a presentation doesn’t connect or flow and they will address it immediately. Which may sound a bit brutal… and it is, but mostly it is just very helpful.
As far as hard skills are concerned, I am in an exchange program and therefore do not participate in an internship. However, I have gained further knowledge of the French language through my daily usage. Although, my classes are all taught in english – besides my French, I find myself using my language skills at some point throughout the day. Most often I feel this skill has developed through my walks to the grocery store and listening to conversation on the sidewalks. It helps me retain an understanding of the slang and the common lingo used in everyday French conversation.
Thus far, I feel as if I have gone through quite a few situations that have forced me to face the cross cultural barriers between the French and I. For one thing, it seemed near impossible to thoroughly understand what sickness I was facing in the beginning of the semester. This is mostly because of the language barrier and not really knowing the names for my symptoms and just having to gesture for the pharmacist or doctor. Though these interactions were brutally painful, they have certainly shaped me quite a bit. I feel as though I am a lot more confident saying what I need and not caring if I look or sound stupid. Which I think before coming here, I might shrug off not understanding someone, I now can empathize with the discomfort that is the language barrier.