Expand Your Career Development Through International Opportunities
For as long as I can remember, I had desire to travel and immerse myself in another culture. While in college, I was eager to compliment my studies in Spanish with an experience abroad but wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. Study abroad seemed like something far out of my financial reach, so I began to create an immersion experience in my dorm. I spent time outside of class with friends who spoke Spanish so that I could practice, listened to music, and watched movies in the original audio and with Spanish subtitles.
Through this dedication, my skills grew; however, I still craved the experience abroad. So, I applied for a program in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was accepted! Immediately, I applied for scholarships. From my applications, I was awarded the Gilman scholarship and a study abroad scholarship through Temple University. These didn’t cover the full cost, but they helped. Through this process, I learned that it’s important to be strategic about the location one chooses to study abroad in, and that there are more scholarship opportunities for programs in underrepresented study abroad locations, such as Latin America. It can be exciting to go to a new country to live there, and scary because everything is different; having a study abroad representative in Buenos Aires helped me get situated.
That semester abroad was more expensive than a regular semester at Temple University, and it was covered entirely by loans, but it gave me so much - it was well worth it. While I was there, I took classes with other international students as well as with native Argentines. It was a challenge to keep up with courses not designed for a second-language learner. It’s different than taking a high-level foreign language course here in the United States, but I hung in there and got through it!
After coming back to the states and graduating, a few of my friends were taking teaching assistantships in Spain, so I decided to apply for a position with a company called ACTIVA. I was interviewed and offered a contract of 25-30 classroom hours in exchange for 900 euros per month. It may not seem like much money; however, this stipend, plus any extra cash earned by teaching private lessons on the side, was enough to live on. I loved Spain and the experience of living in Europe so much that I extended my stay for two more years.
What people may not know, is it’s easy to secure one of these jobs abroad! Your greatest asset is the fact that you are a native speaker of English, and American English. This skill has a market and a demand which makes it very desirable to prospective employers. Most of the peers I met in Spain had a placement at a public or private school facilitating English conversation activities and gave private classes to children and adults on the side for extra cash.
The programs we did in Spain required a bachelor’s degree and an intermediate level of Spanish. There is a similar program in France with the same intermediate level language requirement, and it’s for practical reasons. Unlike study abroad where there is a program representative waiting on the other side to help you process your residence, in Spain we had to find housing, sign a housing contract, and process residence at the police station all on our own.
If you’re interested in learning more about study abroad, contact the Director of International Learning, Brian MacDonald Brian.MacDonald@desales.edu. If you would like to talk to me further about anything, you may reach me at Natalie.DeRosa@desales.edu or come visit my office in the Academic Success Center, room #25. For more information, you can also find blogs and vlogs by Americans who are enrolled in institutions abroad.