I took my first Spanish class in 7th grade and instantly loved the language. Sure, at 12 years old I was only learning the simplest words and phrases possible, and we spent most of our class time singing the songs of the alphabet, months of the year, and the seasons, but I looked forward to it every single day. In 8th grade, I decided to take Spanish again, and I believe this is when my passion began to truly develop and grow. So, here I am, 13 years old, knowing a handful of basic Spanish vocabulary words (like desk, cat, and apple) and asking my teacher "puedo ir al baño?" --thinking I was mastering the language when probably the most complicated thing I knew was how to tell the time. I continued studying Spanish throughout high school, and although the content became more difficult, I knew it was something I was meant to do.
My sophomore year of high school, I was lucky enough to travel to Mexico with my mother, and I had an incredible time. I was finally able to utilize my skills and practice everything I had learned. I was shocked by how well I could converse with other people. It was such a gratifying experience. Everything I worked for and studied was actually paying off. It is a feeling unlike any other to know that your hard work and passion is actually taking you somewhere and benefitting your life. When we left, I immediately wanted to go back... not just because of the beautiful beach and amazing food, but
because I had the best time communicating with native speakers in their native language.
Learning another language is so fascinating and rewarding and I've enjoyed every moment of it. Aside from studying a language that I absolutely love, I'm pursuing a degree in something that will open so many doors for me. The use of the Spanish language is growing at an astonishing rate in the United States. Fluency in a foreign language (obviously not just Spanish) requires a skill set that is impressive and important to many employers. I would go as far to say that learning a second (or third, or fourth) language is imperative to our lives. Am I a little biased because of my absolute infatuation and admiration for the Spanish language? Maybe... but that doesn't make it untrue or crazy.
I decided to study abroad because a) this may be my only opportunity to travel to my dream destinations for a long time--there is no better time than right now, b) I will finally be able to immerse myself in the culture of a country that I have learned so much about during my 7-ish years studying the Spanish language, c) I struggle the most when actually speaking the language, and my confidence and comfortability will grow immensely during a semester completely immersed in the language, d) I love adventures and exploring and learning and meeting new people. This is an experience unlike any other, and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to live out my dreams this early in my life!
A social media intern position with Iowa State's Study Abroad Center would be a great fit for me. I love to write and take pictures (and post tons of photos on Facebook and Instagram) and share my experiences and thoughts with other people. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to not only help myself, but to help others too. Social media is an extremely powerful and useful tool, and if I can use it to help someone else realize their passion, realize they want to study abroad, teach them something about a foreign country, or even spark their interest in something that they had never thought about before, then I am doing what I should be. I believe that every college student should have the opportunity to study abroad and I know that many are nervous or fearful, and I want to show them how exciting and life-changing it really is.
I still have a month and a half until I leave the country for three months, but I already know that this will be the greatest experience of my life. I am so happy that I have the opportunity to not only document my experiences for myself, but to share them with my friends, family, and other Iowa State students. Iowa State has made this whole process extremely easy and exciting and I can't wait to represent my awesome school while studying in Spain!!