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It's Not Adios, It's Hasta Pronto

Well, the summer is winding down here in Barcelona. The last group of students leave at the end of July, and that means my On-Site Ambassadorship is coming to an end. When I look back to when I started with CEA in May, it’s funny how much my life has changed since graduation. All four years of college, I thought I knew what it would be like to graduate and leave the college nest. But as I learned from this summer, real life isn’t as easy as planning a semester in university. We’ve been drilled our entire lives on how to succeed in school; a four-year plan from day one, prestigious internships to boost the resume, club memberships to network, ‘hobbies’ to seem like you don’t just shuffle between the library and parties. We all know the perfect four-year recipe to success is what should eventually lead us to our ‘perfect’ post-grad life. And then you actually graduate. And things change. And you actually have no idea how to do anything despite that killer GPA, impressive resume, and university network.
 Enjoying a Paella lunch with some of the CEA Barcelona staff to celebrate the end of successful summer programs!

One of the most important things I learned during my CEA On-Site Ambassadorship is that it’s ok. Life is life and as cheesy as that sounds, you have to try new experiences, keep your mind and body active and alive, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with well-intentioned people who push you. Mix these ingredients together and you will have a life much more powerful than that picture they always paint in career centers.

When I flew to Barcelona three days after graduation, I had no idea what to expect. I had just said goodbye to my best friends, packed my entire life into a very tiny storage locker, and not only bid farewell to campus but also America. In all honesty, I had no idea what I was about to get myself in to. My employment plans that I had lined up all of senior year fell through in late April, and I accepted the On-Site Ambassadorship only a few weeks after that. Not only had my life in St. Paul changed drastically within a few months, but now I was flying to a foreign country (where I didn’t know anyone) to pursue my first post-graduate professional international opportunity, while also living with a local family that only spoke Spanish. Talk about post-graduation changes!

 A typical busy week at the CEA Barcelona Study Center! This board helps students know what's going on each week.

While I was nervous to start the On-Site Ambassadorship, I should have been more nervous of how quickly my time in Barcelona was going to pass. My two months in Barcelona were a whirlwind. I assisted student activities like cultural events and excursions, worked at the front desk while building relationships with students and helping them navigate their new city, and assisted in marketing and special office projects related to my degree. I even managed to get (slightly) better at answering the front desk phone in Spanish. From my post-graduation fuzzy haze to the end of my On-Site Ambassadorship, CEA gave me the chance to develop myself as a young, new, working professional just as they pushed me to grow as a student studying abroad in 2014. This On-Site Ambassadorship truly was the full circle experience of studying abroad.

Through the program, I grew more confident in my abilities, which was something that I seriously lacked when I graduated. I immersed myself culturally by taking Spanish lessons and living with a host family, which made me realize more than ever that I am a global citizen. I challenged myself to succeed in the office by fulfilling my duties and establishing working relationships with the CEA Barcelona team, which turned out better than I could have ever expected. It’s safe to say I have a very large Barcelona family to return to now :)

 The Barcelona July students enjoying the daytrip to Girona and Tossa de Mar.

This experience taught me that sometimes the things that aren’t planned or expected in life are what turn out the best. It’s the little things, like knowing you have people around you who fully support you and want to see you succeed, that make you feel invincible. Although my On-Site Ambassadorship is coming to a close and will no longer be a part of my everyday life, I will always remember that my CEA On-Site Ambassadorship and the experiences that came with it will always be what set the stage for my future career.

Ana G. is the CEA Barcelona On-Site Ambassador. She is a CEA alumna from the Spring 2014 semester in Barcelona, and Summer 2015 semester in Dublin, and a recent graduate of The University of St. Thomas.  

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