I chose not to pursue a degree in Spanish while at UVA because I had always planned on studying abroad and working on my language in a foreign country. This plan seemed like a good idea until soon before my departure I realized I was about to take a semester worth of Spanish business classes without having taken a Spanish class in 3 years.
Though I was a bit concerned, I was more excited than anything else. I was lucky to have had an amazing AP Spanish teacher in high school where I learned a lot from the majority of the class who were native speakers. It was a fun challenge to see how much I remembered and how quickly it would all come back to me.
As I prepare myself to leave for Singapore, I have spent time reflecting on my past trips abroad and why they hold such weight in my memory, why they constitute so much in the construction of my own identity. Beyond seeing new places, being exposed to new cultures and ideas, or learning a new language, traveling for me has always resulted in one essential outcome: a deeper understanding of what it means to be human and how important our connection to others is.
I wrote this blog entry as a letter to myself – literally.
In an hour you will arrive in Spain to stay there for five months. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in such a fabulous country for a long time while you’re still young and don’t have many responsibilities. It has been your dream to visit Spain, and you need to take full advantage of this trip. I want you to accomplish the following three goals during your life in Spain:
1) Learn the language
During my semester abroad, I want to gain a better understanding of how socialist economic systems function, and see how their strengths and weaknesses compare to the economic systems we use in the United States. Denmark is touted as being part of the ‘Scandinavian welfare model’ which couples socialist spending practices with high economic growth and a relatively small income spectrum. Additionally, I want to understand how the European approach to employee stakeholders affects the formation, growth and efficiency of firms. I would also like to learn functional Danish and visit the OECD in Paris with the hope of having an externship over spring break.