The 3 Invaluable Things That Studying Abroad Has Taught Me

Guest Post By: Anna Chang a Sophomore studying Finance and Marketing. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through ALBA Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, during Summer Quarter 2023.

Summer 2023, I booked a one-way ticket to Barcelona, not knowing how it would transpire. Little did I know that I would learn a variety of invaluable lessons about international business practices, worldwide market interdependence, self-development, and personal breakthroughs. Looking back at my study abroad journey, I noticed how much risk I took, how much I gave up, how many challenges I took on, and most importantly, how much I learned and developed through this episode of my life. As I was reflecting on my whole journey in Barcelona, I’ve come to realize the three major lessons that I’ve learned and how I’ve grown the most:

  • Turning Autonomy Into Independence 

In your study abroad trip, you will be offered plenty of autonomy to be independent with your schedules, finances, networking, and academics. I was able to take great advantage of the amount of freedom that was given to me, so I could manage my time and build my lifestyle around my school schedule. During weekends, I would go on excursions, book flights to travel abroad and explore, walk into my community to assimilate the Spanish culture and language, or solo travel to different cities to learn about the people and myself. Independence has taught me to be more open-minded with opportunities as well. With a relatively slow-paced lifestyle, I would take the extra time I had to sit down and uncover interesting topics side by side with my professors and fellow international students, piquing my interest in delving into more career options in international money management which helped me open my eyes to more opened doors and not to limit my ability. Independence offered me a space to reflect, explore various possibilities, and broaden my horizons.

  • A Self-Discovery Journey

Being abroad will push a pause on your life back home, allowing you to start off a new lifestyle and find your most comfortable domain. During this process, I’ve discovered the lifestyle that fits me the most, the kinds of people I love to surround myself with, and where my passions land. I learned that this study abroad trip went beyond meeting new people and visiting new places – it taught me how to listen to my own voice. Through my alone time, I would zero in on what gave me energy and what drained it. Understanding a new culture enabled me to find my individuality and uniqueness and exhibit them in real life. By adapting to this new environment, I learned to observe what types of surroundings bring out the best in me. On top of that, this experience made me realize my passion for traveling – how it’s recovering, transformative, and making me become more self-aware in a variety of ways. I realized that it’s hard to discover your full potential until you experience things with your own eyes and act upon them.

  • The Process of Building Confidence

Through the process of adapting and cultural exchange, you learn how to appreciate one another and grow in confidence in yourself. As I wandered around Barcelona, I got to witness its culturally diverse people and engage in its highly vibrant life. Because of this, people were more open-minded and accepting of each other’s differences regardless of their color, ethnicity, spoken language, or religion. Due to their unique cultural value and rich diversity, I learned to respect differences, became self-aware of my character, and developed confidence in my uniqueness. In addition to that, the friendships and skills that I acquired on this trip substantially boosted my confidence. I saw great improvements in my Spanish-speaking skills, growing independence and resilience, adaptive and interpersonal skills, and striking a balance in my life. I firmly believe that these invaluable skills will follow along with me for a lifetime and develop into my unique strengths later on.

This transformative learning experience has truly provided me with invaluable skills and business competence to tackle real-world business problems. The lessons I acquired went well beyond what the classroom could offer, from forging strong connections and adjusting to a new environment to gaining confidence and discovering your true self. As I travel back home, I’m eager to transfer these skills into my personal life and in every professional setting. I bring with me a fresh feeling of purpose and a deeper understanding of how to handle the ever-changing international business landscape.