My name is Ana Gilbert and I am CEA's first On-Site Ambassador in Barcelona for the summer of 2016! In May, I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota with a major in Operations & Supply Chain Management and a minor in Communications.
I first got the travel bug when I visited my sister in 2008, who was studying in Florence. I was only in high school, but the trip left a huge impression on me. I loved the vibrant city streets, the loud culture, and most importantly, the food. It was so different than anything I had experienced living in Minnesota, and after that trip I could feel that traveling was going to be a huge part of my life.
|My favorite place from the last time I lived in Barcelona, right in front of Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.|
When I eventually got to college, I made my four year course plan budgeting on spending a semester in Europe. Every job that I took, I made sure to save my money so that when I eventually got to this big adventure, I could travel and have as many amazing experiences as my sister had.
In January 2014, the time finally arrived and I was off on my journey to spend the Spring 2014 semester with CEA in Barcelona. I chose CEA because of their reputation among American university students, program inclusions, and the general sense that they were there to support their students and wanted the best for them. I was not wrong. My semester in Barcelona with CEA lived up to all of my expectations of studying abroad. To say that it was picture perfect would be an understatement. Eventually April rolled around and I knew that it was time to say "adios" to my new European home and all of my friends, favorite places, and the Catalan culture that I had come to know so well.
| My fellow Dublin Summer '15 interns and
I at the Cliffs of Moher.
After I had arrived back in the US, I got an email about the CEA Alumni Ambassador program. They were looking for applicants who wanted to stay connected with CEA in a professional capacity, strengthen their communication skills, promote study abroad to prospective students, and network with other CEA alumni all over the country. I jumped at the chance. Talking more about my time in Barcelona? Perfect. Working with a well-regarded company as an intern while still talking about Barcelona? Even more perfect.
I worked with CEA as an Alumni Ambassador for about a year before I decided to go abroad with CEA again. This time, I chose one of CEA's new program, the summer International Internship program in Dublin. I figured, why work at an internship in Minneapolis when I could intern and live in Dublin, travel on the weekends, and experience life in another new culture? Instead of taking classes with CEA, we were placed with local companies and worked about 30 hours a week, while taking a supplementary seminar course. Interning abroad turned out to be very different than being a student abroad, but it helped me immerse myself fully into the Irish culture and every day life. While I was in Dublin, I also continued my working relationship with CEA as a MOJO (Mobile Journalist) and after the program ended, I continued my work as an Alumni Ambassador for Dublin and Barcelona. If I wasn't hooked with traveling and living in Europe after Barcelona, I was definitely hooked after interning in Dublin.
Then senior year rolled around. Like any graduating senior, I spent my last year spending time with my friends, going to my favorite places around campus one last time and applying for jobs. Everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place for my new post-grad life, and then everything shifted. My post-graduation plans changed within a few days and my future that I had solidified in my head since the fall was suddenly not a reality anymore. Like any senior would do, I went into panic mode.
|Here I am (bottom left) with some of the CEA Barcelona team at the Study Center!|
Exactly three days later, CEA's Senior Alumni Relations Coordinator that I had been working with since I left Barcelona, approached me and asked if I was interested in applying for CEA's new On-Site Ambassadorship program in Barcelona this summer. I jumped at the chance. Working with CEA, a community I had grown to love over the years? Yes. Continue my work with CEA in an even more professional capacity, but in Barcelona this time? Absolutely. I took a leap of faith in myself and my abilities and bought a plane ticket to Barcelona.
So what am I doing now? I am living in Barcelona and working with the CEA team as their first On-Site Ambassador. Like my first time living here, to say everything is going well would be an understatement. It feels as though nothing has changed in the city that became my home two years ago.
As an On-Site Ambassador, I divide my time between helping coordinate student activities, excursions and weekend trips, facilitating the study abroad experience for on-site students, and contributing to office projects related to my major.
I have never been so sure of a decision than the one I made to return to Barcelona.
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.
Read more about our CEA MOJO Bloggers & Photographers.