Hello, my name is Trish Reid and I am a junior at Kansas State University planning on studying abroad in Madrid, Spain through Academic Programs International (API) at the Universidad Antonio de Nebrija during the Spring Semester of 2014. My goals for studying abroad are to immerse myself in the Spanish language, to gain experiences that will help me in reaching my professional goals, and to connect with the affairs, perspectives, interests, and service of people with different experiences than my own. Studying abroad will increase my knowledge and appreciation of the Spanish language. I have been taking Spanish for seven years now and I am ready to take on my greatest challenge yet, to immerse myself in the Spanish culture by living in a Spanish speaking country. I am excited to live in Madrid, Spain for a semester with the hopes of reaching fluency in Spanish. My experience with learning Spanish has not always been easy. When I think about learning the language I think about the frustration I have felt when saying the wrong word for what feels like the thousandth time. I think about crying in my Spanish professor’s office at least once (maybe twice) while at K-State because I just couldn’t get it. I think about the long plateaus where it has felt like no improvement has been made.
But after getting past the bumps in the road, I have found that learning Spanish is incredibly rewarding. I think about the joy I felt when I was able to successfully communicate with an Ecuadorian student on campus. I think about comforting a Mexican camper who was homesick while I was a counselor at Kanakuk. I think about the week I spent in Guatemala and how the people and the culture touched me in ways that I cannot begin to describe. Studying a foreign language takes time and patience, but it pays off tenfold. I want to study abroad in Spain for a semester because there is no better way to learn a language than to immerse myself in the country where the language originated. I chose to live in the city of Madrid because it is in the heart of Spain. From what I have read, Madrid is the perfect mix of traditional Spanish culture and a cosmopolitan European city. With my study abroad goals in mind, I chose Madrid because I think it will offer me the greatest opportunity to communicate, interact, and learn from a wide array of people. I want to break out of the classroom setting and apply my language skills to the real world. I want to order my coffee drink at a local café, tell my host family thank you for the wonderful Spanish meal, and cheer for the Real Madrid soccer team all in Spanish. Studying abroad in Spain isn’t the beginning or the end of my life-long dedication to learning a foreign language, but rather, it is a giant leap in the right direction. I am a junior at K-State with a major in public relations, a secondary major in international studies, and a minor in Spanish. Studying abroad in Spain will help me professionally because it will give me the experience I need to someday work in international public relations. I am drawn to international public relations with interests in strategic corporate communications and nonprofit organizations. If I hope to specialize in international communication, speaking a second language is vital. There are three hundred and twenty nine million Spanish-speaking people in this world. Spanish is the second most used language in the world behind Chinese and in front of English. If I can communicate in both English and Spanish I will be able to reach out to over half the world. Our economy is becoming increasingly more global.
Many businesses work closely with companies in other countries and there is a need for workers who can communicate in different languages and understand other cultures. It is said that ❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞ I am ready to get out of one corridor and I believe studying abroad in Spain will be the first of many doors that will be opened in my professional career. As my wise father once said, “College is not the place you go to know what you want to do, it’s the place to prepare, so that when you know you can succeed.” As of right now I am focusing less on what I want to do, and more on preparing for who I want to be. Studying abroad will prepare me for who I want to be because it will force me to see the world from a new perspective while learning to be more independent and self-sufficient. I am willing to leave a comfortable situation for a challenging one because I desire to learn and grow in a place I am not familiar with. I want to develop a greater appreciation for the world but I also hope to leave Madrid with a greater appreciation for where I am from. I don’t think I can truly compare my culture to another when I have not yet been exposed to another culture in the way that living in a foreign country for a semester will provide. Communicating and gaining knowledge from people beyond the world of English will ultimately help me in contributing to my own university, community, and country. I am very excited about the journey I have chosen to partake in through studying abroad and I am ready for the world to be defined in ways that I have not yet imagined. Immersing myself in the Spanish language, gaining experiences that will help me in reaching my professional goals, and connecting with the affairs, perspectives, interests, and service of people with different experiences than my own are all goals I want to achieve while in Madrid. I hope to take a little piece of Spain with me when I leave, and if the Spaniards are lucky, a little piece of Kansas will be left behind as well.