Why did you decide to intern abroad with World Endeavors in Valencia?
Shannon: This is my story...I had always wanted to learn a foreign language. Yes, in high school, I took classes. I knew the basic, elementary Spanish, but I was never serious about it. In college I had this yearning to really learn Spanish and I wanted to be more competitive with my resume by having a professional internship abroad. I wanted to go somewhere I have never seen, dance to music I couldn't understand, make memories and friends that I would never forget.
I knew the only way I was able to truly accomplish all of that was to emerge myself in their culture. So I did my research. I didn't want to go through my university, SDSU, because I didn't want to be in the typical situation that most students found themselves experiencing when they went abroad, surrounded by Americans, not forced to speak Spanish because all their friends spoke English.
Not me, I didn't want that, I really wanted to learn. I did my research and I found a program called World Endeavors and saw all the student's individual testimonies, spoke with their representatives and enjoyed every conversation and every story. I applied and was accepted. I was going to Spain! However, I didn't know a soul, but I was so excited for the adventure.
What made your internship experience unique and special?
Shannon: What made my internship so unique and special was that I was part of a program that was not affiliated with a university. This program took applicants all over the world. My peers were from other parts of the country, where English was not their primary language. You were not only learning about the Spanish culture but also learning other cultures from all over the world.
My internship was Spanish speaking only. I had to learn Spanish if I was going to work, live, and make friends in the city. I had always wanted to learn but this time it was different; it was vital that I learn in order to survive in the city.
Valencia was very different than most major cities in Spain. They took great pride over their heritage and did not want to compromise that at all. So this meant they did not speak English and they didn't try when you asked. The city was part of the original kingdom of Spain; so, they had managed to preserve its Castle, pillars, cathedrals, etc., it all was breathtaking. Everyone respects their heritage; you never, ever saw profanity or gang expression written on the Chapels, Cathedrals, museums, etc.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Shannon: My experience abroad has profoundly changed my life for the good.
I didn't know a soul when I went to Spain. I couldn't speak a lick of Spanish and I left all whom I love in California and packed my bags and took a chance. I had so much to lose, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I came back not only knowing Spanish, but with heaps of friends and memories that I will never forget.
How it changed me? If I can make it in another country then I can make it anywhere. Knowing that after I graduated from SDSU (San Diego State University) I applied and got accepted for an internship in New York City. I packed my life into two suitcases, I didn't know a soul in New York, but I knew I was going to be okay because I've done it before, in Spain. Now, I've been living in NYC for more than a year and a half. I have an incredible job, in which I do marketing and PR for international corporations. Like Frank Sinatra said, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." That is my story.