Eduardo Ahumada studied abroad in Bilbao, Spain. During his time abroad he participated in an internship that directly related to his classes abroad and his major. We talked to Eduardo about his experience in Bilbao and how it’s impacted his future.
What is your major and year studied abroad?
My major is marketing and I studied abroad for the Fall 2018 semester.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Bilbao?
I’ve always been interested in the Basque culture and so my decision was between San Sebastián and Bilbao. With the little research I did, Bilbao ended up being my choice literally due to a coin flip!
Where did you do your internship and what did the work consist of?
My internship was at MKM International Consulting. It is a small consulting firm where I researched the biotech industry and possible niches for this company to enter. I also did a lot of translating, from Spanish to English, for their market analysis reports and presentations.
Why was completing an internship during your time abroad important to you?
I was nearing graduation and I wanted to see how the environment within an established company would be like. I’ve worked all my life, but none were business related positions. I had some spare time and decided to remain somewhat productive and dedicate 12 hours a week towards an internship which would benefit me in the future. I now know I would never want to work in a consulting firm, but do appreciate all that I learned from it and the relationships formed within the workplace.
How did your time at MKM impact your study abroad experience?
Having an internship in another country was amazing because there is no way I would have found a Spanish firm within the USA and learned how to adapt to the Spanish culture and understand how other people of the world work and enjoy their time off. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I took full advantage of it. Everybody in the firm had their smoke breaks and cared about their time off, but overall weren’t too concerned about wealth. While learning about International Strategic Management in Ibon’s class, I was able to incorporate what I learned in the classroom into the internship. I was lucky to be given this opportunity.
What’s one stand-out experience from your time abroad?
The feeling of being tossed into a completely different environment alone with nobody familiar around you and quickly adapting to the culture and remaining eager to continuously learn more and finding yourself. If you’re asking for a single experience alone, that’s impossible to answer. Every week there was something that has remained prominent and vivid in my memories of studying abroad. Whether it was traveling alone in Granada and being lost for hours late at night upon arrival and finally stumbling across my hostel on a hill or the madness that occurred within the nightclubs or surviving the Merce Festival in Barcelona, there was no single “experience” or event that stood out the most. It was the accumulation of travels, people, and repetitive encounters of the unknowns that made traveling abroad one of the best decisions of my life.
Has study abroad impacted your major, academics, or professional goals in any way? If so, how?
Studying abroad impacted how I plan to do business with others in the future and greatly considering every individual’s background in any given environment I am a part of. Since then, I’ve made goals to travel the world much more and one day marry a Spanish princess.
Anything else you’d like to say about your experience and why students should choose to study in Bilbao?
Bilbao allowed me to truly find and understand myself and realize it’s okay to be lost and to always have the desire to take on the unknown. There is nothing wrong with uncertainty and there is nothing worse than regret. I am graduating next spring and would have deeply regretted not traveling abroad. I’ve spoken to many post grads and they wish they had the time to live anywhere else in the world for a few months, but they now have car payments to make, a job to keep, a serious relationship, and too many responsibilities to go. Money comes and goes, and much of it disappeared while I was traveling every other weekend while Bilbao. I promise you, the money will come again and the short term relationships you will make with your small study-abroad group while in Bilbao will be worth everything. You hop out the plane in a completely different country after a full day of travel and you may feel scared, might lack the confidence to stay strong and far away from home, and second guess yourself while there, but trust me, this will positively develop your character, your knowledge within the classroom and outside as well. Once the semester comes to an end in a city you ended up falling in love with, you’ll feel bittersweet. These strangers you traveled with that were from different cities from the USA have now become your life friends. Your daily life in a unknown country has now become habitual and will deeply appreciate the beauty of its people, infrastructure, culture, food, and nights out. Do yourself a favor and send it.