I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
In less than one week I will have finished my semester here in Málaga. I knew from the beginning that 3 months wasn’t a long time, but I didn’t expect it to go quite so quickly. I remember how nervous I was getting off the plane in Madrid, how painfully bad at Spanish I was, and how sure I was of my future plans. 3 months later, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve changed.
I read somewhere that something like only 6% of all American college students spend more than a month abroad studying/working/volunteering. I am so proud to be part of that statistic, but so sad to realize that so many of my peers can’t or won’t take the same opportunity.
Here’s just a few reasons why study abroad was such a wonderful experience for me.
1. My eyes were opened to a whole new mindset, a different culture, and benefits of different lifestyles. This wasn’t just from the Spaniards that I lived with & encountered, but also my ISA friends who are from every part of the US. I’ve learned so much about being tolerant, accepting, and empathic to so many different ideologies. I have been so blessed by many of the people I have met and become friends with here.
2. Daily I was pushed out of my comfort zone to do something I didn’t want to do, e.g. speaking broken Spanish. And guess what – in the past month my Spanish comprehension has skyrocketed! I’m so excited!
3. I learned a new language. I can’t underline enough how vital it is to learn another language! The power of communication is so amazing! If you ever have the opportunity to learn a new language – do it! It’s one of the most worthwhile things you’ll ever do.
4. I learned to be independent. Nothing like living 5000 miles from home with limited communication to teach you that one.
Finally, 5. I learned that I don’t have all the answers, and that I need to trust God. That’s where Jeremiah 29:11 comes in. I came into this semester with a 2 year plan that was based on what I wanted, and failed to include God’s plans for me.
Although my plan wasn’t very detailed, it did include this: summer internship, awesome senior year, job offer in advertising/marketing after graduation. The ideal dream, right?
Well, none of the internships I looked at worked out, but God provided a job for me this summer anyway! I’m going back to my old job in a sense, but I was offered more responsibility and a wider range of experience. Add in that the benefit of getting to live with my family (possibly) one last time before graduation.
As for post-grad plans, I always said that I would never ever ever teach. Well, I came to Spain, and re-discovered my passion for Spanish, and now… I’m considering teaching Spanish, or teaching English in a foreign country. I still love Marketing, so it’s my first choice – but my first choice isn’t always God’s choice. Go figure. My mom always said that she would never be a computer programmer. What was her job for 7+ years? Computer programming. One of her friends said she would be a missionary anywhere – except Uganda. Where did she end up for her time abroad? Uganda.
So that being said, trust is a journey. But I think I just might be making some progress.