Thanks to my (now) alma mater Northeastern University, I had the unique opportunity to stay in Spain for yet another year. Through the International Business program (BSIB), I had the choice of studying for another year at ICADE, my Spanish business school, in order to obtain an additional European degree.
Honestly, it was a really difficult choice. Though my first year of studies were filled with tons of trips and adventures to beautiful cities and landscapes across Europe and Asia, the workload was intense, and I knew it would just get harder in the second year. Taking the second year meant buckling down and really working hard to maintain my honors status, my scholarships, and my degree in general. Rather than 4 classes per semester like at our American university, we were required to take 7 courses in one semester at ICADE, all in Spanish. During the second year, our Bachelors thesis would be added on top of it all. I already had a difficult time because I felt like I didn’t have a support system going on. Professors distanced themselves from students, were subjective in grading, and even discriminated against foreign students. In the first year professors cut us a bit of slack when it came to language barriers, but they expected us to have it together with no excuses for the second year. There were so many other reasons to turn back and return home, like the day to day discrimination for being Asian, homesickness, strained finances, missing recruiting opportunities in the U.S…
But I realized they were all pressures from external factors. I had to take a step back and ask myself what I really wanted for myself and from this program. I thought back to the day when I first applied to the BSIB program. I applied knowing it would be a challenge and a big risk; yet I also knew that I had the potential of reaping the greatest rewards. I assessed myself based on the goals I had made: to create a solid network of international peers, achieve a level of working proficiency in Spanish, to gain a true expatriate experience–homesickness, government papers, and all. I realized that one year was not long enough to achieve these goals at the level that I was satisfied with. And to be honest, although there were so many bullet points in the “cons” section of this decision, deep down I couldn’t imagine going back.
So, true to myself, I listened to my intuition and stayed.