Study Abroad Student Profile
Name: Brooke Motsinger
Majors: Finance and International Business with a Spanish minor
Engagement on campus: CRU, Student Government, Student Exchange Buddy
Coop Placements: Cincinnati Bell Internal Audit Intern, FTJ Fund Choice Financial Operations Intern
Graduation year: 2018
Location and type of program: USAC Semester in Bilbao, Spain
Describe the location you studied abroad for someone who has never been there.
Spain is beautiful and so culturally rich. Each region within Spain is unique and offers something special. Bilbao is located in the Basque Country on the northern coast of the Bay of Biscay. The city is surrounded by mountains and beaches with many amazing views. The Guggenheim Art Museum is a main attraction in Bilbao, however there are many other things to enjoy.
Why did you choose your program?
I chose to do a semester exchange in Bilbao, Spain, because I wanted to improve my Spanish and travel throughout Europe.
What was your best memory from your time abroad?
I have so many wonderful memories from my experience making it difficult to choose just one. I really enjoyed spending time with my host family, learning about their lives and practicing Spanish with them. I also loved traveling to so many beautiful cities within Europe. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to enhance my worldview and meet so many great people from completely different backgrounds, with whom are still good friends.
How did you afford an international experience?
I was able to afford an international experience through my co-op earnings, my parents’ support, and financial aid.
What was your favorite class or academic activity abroad? Why?
One of my favorite classes was my Basque Culture and Language class. The class consisted of seven field trips to different places within the Basque Country including Southern France, a cave tour, a winery, a boat tour of Bilbao, and several other historical locations within the Basque Country. I really enjoyed this class because it provided me the opportunity to see parts of the Basque Country that I may have not visited on my own that are significant to the region’s history, allowing me to better understand the perspective of the people living there.
Describe interactions you had with locals. What did you learn from these people?
I lived with a host family during my semester abroad and learned so much about Spanish culture, beliefs, worldviews and customs. I spent a significant amount of time with my host mother and we have continued to keep in contact through email. I was able to practice Spanish every day and really immerse myself in the culture.
What professional skills did you gain while abroad?
During my time abroad, I taught English to first and third grade students at a local grade school. I learned how to conduct myself in a work environment while maneuvering cultural and linguistic differences.
How has study abroad influenced you career path?
Study abroad has influenced my career path in several ways. Globalization has always been fascinating to me and something that I would like to incorporate into my professional career. Living and traveling throughout Europe increased my awareness of the reality and effects of globalization on the world. I would like to continue to learn different languages beyond Spanish and travel often.
What is something you learned from studying abroad?
One thing I learned while studying abroad is to never limit yourself. Study abroad was a goal of mine for as long as I can remember and through months of planning, I was able to do it. I learned to live with less as I traveled to nine European countries out of a backpack. I became more open minded and gained confidence in my ability to live in unfamiliar environments, surrounded by different languages. You don’t always realize what you are capable of until you are pushed outside of your comfort zone. Study abroad is a great opportunity to do just that.
What was your biggest challenge while studying abroad?
My biggest challenge while abroad was time management in regards to all aspects of the experience including traveling, academics, friends and my host family. There were so many opportunities and activities to enjoy, the most difficult thing for me was choosing what I wanted to involve myself in and how much time to allocate to each area. There was never a dull moment.
What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time abroad?
I am most proud of how much Spanish I learned while living in Spain. One of my goals for my time abroad was language acquisition. I definitely was able to tell a huge difference in my speaking and language comprehension at the end of the semester. Even halfway through the semester when my family visited me during spring break, I realized I had been improving as they do not know any Spanish which caused me to have to do a lot of translating.
If you had the chance to study abroad again, what would you do differently?
If I had the chance to study abroad again, I would spend more time with local students. There were around 70 American students in the USAC Bilbao, Spain program which made it difficult spend a significant amount of time with locals outside of my host family. I really enjoyed spending time with the locals I did meet however and learned a lot from them.
In your opinion, why should every student study abroad?
Every student should study abroad because it will mold you into a better version of yourself. Traveling and experiencing the world will change your worldview and help you to more clearly understand different perspectives and lifestyles. It will cause personal and professional growth and force deeper development of personal interest, goals and opinions. Studying abroad is important because it forces you to become a more knowledgeable contributor to society and the world.