Hobbies and interests. I puzzled over the words on the CEA housing questionnaire. They were intended as a way to pair me up with another student with similar inclinations for my future homestay, not a philosophical dilemma. But as I typed my answer in the box (writing, video editing, hiking, piano, singing, cooking), I felt like a poser.
When was the last time I did any of those things outside of school or work? I considered myself a creative, but did I ever take on projects that were more than just marks in the grade book?
I applied to be a CEA Content Contributor during my semester in Seville, Spain, last fall because I thought it would be a good way to get some blogging experience — and, admittedly, it would look great on my resume.
I was right. But I didn’t expect to love it so much. I started writing articles for CEA towards the end of my time abroad. I wrote one on my favorite bar in Seville and one on navigating a long-distance relationship abroad. I even kept going as an Alumni Ambassador when I returned to the States.
It was a resume builder, yes, but I was having fun with it. On the weeks I wrote blog posts, I noticed a shift in my mindset. I was freer, more thoughtful. My Google document of poems got longer, I stopped at a shop for some watercolors and my journal grew thick with collages of found items and introspective musings.
My newfound burst of creativity had a lot to do with circumstance; I was flush with adventure in a city full of cobblestone streets to explore and alluring Andalucian accents to overhear. But I also owe it to my blogging assignments. I’d forgotten writing could be so enjoyable.
When my time in Seville ended, I applied for a blogging internship with Dressember, an anti-human trafficking organization I’ve been involved with for a few years. Thanks to my blogging experience in Seville, I had plenty of writing samples to provide, and I got a recommendation from Emily, CEA’s Social Media Manager. I got the internship and spent the spring semester becoming a better writer while supporting a cause I love.
I’m returning to Dressember to intern as the lead blog curator and editor this semester, and I can’t help but wonder if I’d have gotten this opportunity without my experience with CEA. Blogging has reminded me how fun writing can be when it’s on topics I’m excited about. It’s helped me augment my portfolio with pieces I’m proud of, and it will help when I start searching for my first job out of college this winter.If you’re looking to practice your writing, video, social media or photography skills and leverage your study abroad experience for professional growth, check out CEA’s MOJO, Content Contributor and Alumni Ambassador programs. You’ll certainly reap career benefits, and you might get in touch with your inner creative, too.
Learn more about studying abroad.
Shannon Gage is a CEA Alumni Ambassador and was a CEA Fall 2019 Content Contributor who studied abroad in Seville, Spain. She is a graduate of Liberty University.
Read more about our CEA MOJO Bloggers & Photographers.