I think that I finally have an answer for when people ask me, “what do you want to do after you graduate?” I normally despise that question, because, even as a junior in college, I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I envy the people who have known what they wanted to ‘be’ since they were young. For me, I went from wanting to be a teacher, to a writer, a news anchor, a lawyer, then there was that very brief period (better known as a lapse in good judgement) where I thought I wanted to be a vet… and then I remembered that needles make me faint, blood makes me queasy, and I don’t handle injuries well. So needless to say, I have never known exactly what I wanted to do. When I started my college career at St. Thomas two and a half years ago, I hoped that taking a variety of classes would help me to find something that I was really passionate about. I found my niche in the communications and journalism department, but that still didn’t give me the answers that I was looking for.
When I didn’t find exactly what I wanted at UST, I decided that maybe I needed to go further away from home to discover what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As a freshman, I did a J-Term (about a month) in Cuernacava, Mexico. Haven’t heard of that city? Don’t worry… no one has. At the time, I thought that Cuernavaca was the most amazing place in the world. I had freedom that I’d never had before and I was seeing things that I could never see at home. After being there for a month, I knew that I needed to do that again. As a sophomore, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and spend a month in Europe. I picked Spain mostly just because I could speak the language and also because I’ve always wanted to see Spain. I had no idea what to expect when I got to Seville, and I certainly didn’t expect to fall completely in love with this city. The whole time that I was here in January, I was still constantly looking for what I wanted to do with my life once I graduated…
It seems like the biggest and most important decisions that I make always come to me at the oddest times. When I decided to study abroad for the semester, I was sitting at a table in Starbucks with some people from my program and one of my friends was talking about how she was considering coming back for the semester. Up until that point, I had never thought about doing a semester abroad. I’m more or less a homebody, so putting my life in Minnesota on hold for 4 months was not something that I thought I could do. Saying goodbye to friends that know me better than anyone else and to family that is my support system was not necessarily something that appealed to me. But the more that this girl talked about it, the more that I kept thinking to myself, “hey… I could do this too.” It really was that simple. For the remainder of the trip, I kept weighing the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad, and when I was at the airport in Seville getting ready to fly home… I knew that I had to come back. I knew that it would be sad to leave the people that I’d met here, but I had no idea that I would be so upset just to leave this city and this culture behind. As I got on the plane, I promised myself that I would be back.
So here I am. I’ve been here for almost two months and I have exactly two months left as of today. To some people, two months somewhere might seem like an eternity… but here, the days fly by. Before you know it, the days turn into weeks, and those weeks become months. Here I am again, trying to figure out how I can come back. Then once again, it hit me: this is what I’m passionate about; this is what I want to do with my life. I tried to make it work so that I could stay here for the year instead of just the semester, but I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time. So instead, after I graduate, I’m going to move back to Spain for awhile. Maybe for a few months, maybe for a few years, but I know that I have to come back. Even though Spain’s economy is currently struggling, there are many opportunities for native English speakers. In my program alone there are dozens of families that pay for students to come and speak English to their kids to help them improve their language skills, there are opportunities in schools, or even after-school programs to help children with their English. I envy the kids here that were born speaking Spanish, because they have a level of fluidity that I don’t think I’ll ever have. But I also know that being born speaking English is incredibly valuable in today’s world, and if I can somehow help other people to speak the language the comes second nature to me… why wouldn’t I do it?
So, that’s the plan. I know that these next two months are going to fly by, and I can’t wait to see where they will take me. But now I know that in the future, I’ll be back again.