Like many students, Marlee Stein took advantage of many opportunities available to Spanish students, perhaps not sure how they would all add up or where they would lead. Marlee did the following:
- Studied abroad in Granada, Spain.
- Took the community service learning courses ("Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish and Entrepreneurship").
- She did James Scholar Honors projects in her Spanish courses. In my classes, one semester she blogged (on this blog) and another semester she worked on a virtual intercambio site-- got it up and running.
- She applied to teach English in Spain through the Cultural Ambassadors: North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain program. She was accepted, and she extended her stay into a second year.
Along the way, she figured out for herself how all of those experiences added up, where she wanted them to lead her. Here's a message Marlee recently sent me.
I wanted to tell you that I was accepted into the graduate program at northwestern "higher education & policy." This is actually my dream program and am so excited to start and pursue a career as a study abroad advisor as well as get involved with the university and local community (something I learned from your classes!). I wanted to thank you again for writing me a recommendation because your kind words I'm sure played a large role in my acceptance. It means a lot to me that you took the time to write a recommendation on my behalf as well as opening my mind to the many applications of language and culture. Thanks for inspiring me to take initiative and offering a wide range of opportunities in your classes because when interviewing for the program I mentioned my Intercambio website and they were impressed. After a lot of thinking I did decide to defer acceptance until June of 2015 and teach an additional school year in Spain. The NW advisor and I both thought that an additional year living, working, networking, and improving my Spanish will be extremely beneficial to a career in higher education and as a study abroad advisor. This summer I completed the entire camino de santiago-Frances in 33 days (over 800kilometers). After all my years of Spanish class and studying about the culture and history of the camino de santiago I was able to experience it first hand.
In Marlee's case, her path was both metaphorical and literal (el Camino de Santiago). And it's led her to an understanding of the path she wants to follow in the future. But she had to walk it to arrive at that point, at that understanding. So be patient. Take lots of opportunities. Reflect often.
What steps are you taking while you're in college? Are you doing all that you can with your Spanish program? Are you patient enough to follow a path without always knowing exactly where it will lead you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.