My name is Macy and I am a University of Idaho student. My junior year I studied abroad with USAC in San Sebastián, Spain, where I ultimately gained the skills necessary to apply for a career in the National Security Agency. My majors are International Studies, Economics, and Spanish, but I never expected Spain to provide me with the opportunities and career back it did.
Living With a Host Family
My friend had stayed with a host family during her time abroad and I was fortunate enough to stay with the same host family during my time in Spain. I loved my host parents Karina and Gorka. They were so kind, generous, and welcoming. My host mom took time out of her day to teach me colloquial sayings and she would write them down in a notebook we kept on the dining room table. I would highly recommend staying with a host family, I learned so much more through them about the culture in San Sebastián, the language, and what is means to develop genuine relationships.
Teaching English While Abroad
During my semester in San Sebastián, I taught English to 12 year olds at a local school. Teaching was something that I had never done before, and I wanted to try it out. It was very challenging, but it allowed me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I had a lot of fun learning as I went. It also expanded my skill set for future careers that I may pursue.
Participating in Local Festivals
If you study abroad in the spring you have the opportunity to witness and participate in the local Basque festival. My friends were in the Basque class that was offered through USAC and they were going to go participate in the Basque festival as part of the class. I was very curious about the festival, so I asked Natalia (the USAC professor) if I could join as well. She was thrilled that I was interested and told me to come along. The students and I dressed up as Cabezudos in a parade. Our job was to scare the children. It is a traditional festival to scare away the bad spirits and welcome the good ones.
Reflecting on the Semester Abroad
My study abroad was the adventure of my life. I learned so much more than I could have ever imagined. I learned more Spanish during my five months in Spain than I had in the previous six years I had taken Spanish back home. I made so many authentic friendships, immersed myself into the culture, and discovered more about who I was abroad. I would not trade that experience for anything.
As a result of my study abroad, I learned that I would like to pursue a career in the National Security Agency. Studying abroad enabled me to develop skills that are required to apply for a job at the NSA.
The core values of the NSA are: commitment to service, respect for the law, integrity, transparency, respect for people, and accountability. While abroad, I learned how to effectively communicate by learning and understanding another language. Furthermore it allowed me to gain a perspective of my native language. Concise and direct communication is essential for transparency. Furthermore, succinct and honest communication ensues public understanding. Living in another country provided me with the experience of immersing myself in new cultural customs. Through this, I gained a more palpable respect for people.
Understanding another culture enabled me to value diverse backgrounds and attain respect for rules of different societies. Moreover, living in another country expanded my understanding of the world we live in. I was able to uncover unintentional biases and overcome them. I re-established by comfort zone, I was responsible for my reputation as a student of USAC and the United States, and discovered what I truly valued in a person. I also practiced how to manage unfamiliar settings and mastered how to be resourceful. Life is unpredictable and always changing. Studying in San Sebastián encouraged me to adapt to these new environments. None of these things came easy, I had to work for it. Patience became a virtue I constantly practiced. I was committed to finding my way through another culture. All of the skills I have gained will be able to be transferred to a career in the NSA where I will be responsible for transparency, service, respect, integrity, and accountability.
San Sebastián became my home abroad, and a piece of my heart will always be there.