#StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Feb 15, 2015 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Emily Dorso is a senior Advertising and Public Relations major, Spanish minor at the University of Tampa. Her experience studying abroad in Granada, Spain for a semester not only confirmed her passion for travel, but solidified her need to work with a company after graduation that shares her core values and unites both her passion and college degree. Emily continues to share her study abroad experience with her campus as an API Campus Advocate. She is currently both a UT student mentor for freshmen and a public relations intern at B2 Communications in St. Petersburg. Emily looks forward to post-graduation, which will be her most exciting and challenging adventure to date.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

The decision to go abroad was, ironically, one of frustration. I was tired of my routine and didn't feel like I was growing in the organizations on campus I was involved with. Studying abroad was something I had always planned to do, yet trivial things that weren't fulfilling me were getting in the way. That revelation is what lead me to make the decision to study abroad, and it was the most rewarding, life-changing decision I have ever made. I chose Granada, Spain because I'm a Spanish minor, and without that guidance, narrowing down a country to travel to would have been impossible for me.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?

My experience overall is probably very similar to others that study abroad, in that it was one of both extreme joy and occasionally embarrassment and frustration. Studying abroad in a country where you don't know the language creates a great deal of challenges, but that is what makes the payoff so much more rewarding. Communicating, whereas so easy in America, is a day-to-day challenge when studying abroad in a new country. Not only are you experiencing potential language barriers, but you are also forced to bridge cultural gaps you may not initially understand.

It's impossible for me to pick a favorite memory, because the entire semester of studying abroad in Spain is a treasured memory of mine. However, a specific moment that sticks out in my mind (besides seeing all of the amazing cities and countries) was my first hike in Granada. My roommate and I decided to take a hike on our own to the mountains. This was only our second week abroad, we had limited directions, and had never worked the public transportation system. Long story short, we got there, and when we hiked up to the top of that mountain and saw the spectacular view, I had a revelation - this was the definition of my 20s. I felt alive in a way I never had before. I felt young and empowered and adventurous. It was the moment that I realized that I could do anything, and that this was only the beginning.  

A close second would be Valentine's Day, when our program took us on an excursion to Rome, Italy. I spent the evening eating pizza and drinking wine, ending it with great friends and great gelato at the Trevi Fountain. Now that is a good Valentine's Day.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

I think it's impossible to come back from studying abroad and not be changed in some way. To this day, I am more culturally aware and consistently more interested and engaged in what is going on in the world around me. I developed my confidence as well, as anyone would successfully navigating public transportation in over 10 countries...most of the time, anyway. I also developed a curiosity for the world that I know will lead to more spectacular adventures and with each, their own individual lessons.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?

Studying abroad equally shook up my world completely and gave me a sense of purpose and direction. Before leaving, I had a specific idea of what I should do after graduation. But that was it; a post graduation full of "shoulds." You should get a 9-5 job right after graduation. You should settle down. You should be responsible and realistic. These "shoulds" were paralyzing me. After studying abroad, I realized that the only person I needed to truly listen to about my future was myself. And that was liberating. I now know travel will forever be a part of my life, including post-graduation. I even continue to share my study abroad experience back at my university as a campus advocate for international education.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?

The advice I have is the same I give my freshmen students - it is possible. Studying abroad comes in all shapes and forms. Worried about money, time, missing out, graduating? It can all be figured out. There are opportunities for everyone who wishes to study abroad. Summer and semester terms, volunteer trips, interning abroad. Scholarships are always available as well. It's all about communicating with the right people (like your study abroad office or affiliate programs) to truly understand all of your options. If you want to do it, you can make it work.  

I found my life-changing experience with Academic Programs International (API), and had an incredible time. Whatever you do, select a company and a program that offers a support system and endless resources. Getting to the fun stuff can be tricky (like dealing with visas and course transfers, etc.), so having that help is just as vital to enjoying your experience.

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

My experience in Spain changed my world in so many ways. Studying abroad connected me to so many incredible people that shared my passions of travel and cultural awareness. These are people I am still in touch with today (and plan on traveling with again very soon!). Whether it was watching the news in a variety of countries or sharing a meal with a local family, my international education opened my eyes to so much more than strictly the Spanish language. I learned about the world, and I learned about myself. For that, I am incredibly thankful.

 

 #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

Emily Dorso: #StudyAbroadBecause Adventure Awaits

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Emily Dorso