The main topic of this post is my professional goals, but before I get to that, I want to address short term goals, and how my study abroad experience is affecting them. If anyone is reading this and is considering going abroad but is waiting for the best time, stop it. There will never be a perfect time to go abroad.
When I was trying to decide when I would go abroad, I wanted to pick a semester would not dramatically impact affect my biology major and a semester where I would have taken enough Spanish classes to feel ready. And from the beginning I decided to wait until my Junior Year. Fast forward to now and there are more biology classes offered this semester than last semester, and I don’t think an extra semester of Spanish has made much of a difference in my speaking capabilities. There are other things at Susquehanna that I am missing this semester.
BUT going abroad will always throw a wrench in your schedule. It’s impossible to choose a perfect time, because you will miss something (a class, an event, a holiday, etc…). But don’t let that discourage you from going abroad because the experience will be worth it. Just keep in mind what you are gaining outweighs any scheduling conflicts.
My shortest term goals after this semester ends is having a successful Senior Year, since all of my goals after college depend on this. This includes successfully completely my biology major and Senior Research, my Spanish capstone, finishing my minors, and being a successful Senior Community Assistant. The only one I am not worried about at all is my Spanish capstone, since this study abroad will drastically improve my command of the language. I am taking courses here that will transfer for my biology major, which is a big scheduling relief. I think in general, this experience is improving, and will continue to improve, my problem solving skills since I am basically learning how to live in a different country more or less on my own.
And now finally my long term(ish) goals. Science students are underrepresented in study abroad programs because it is harder to accommodate our busier schedules (see rant above), courses that we need are usually harder to come by abroad, etc… So that puts me in a second groups of students that are underrepresented in study abroad programs, which will be very useful when I start applying to graduate schools for marine biology/biological oceanography. Also, in one of my courses here, we have trips to biological reserves, which even though they are terrestrial, will still help. And knowing a second language is useful in basically every field, especially if I would have to travel somewhere for research and Spanish is widely spoken (i.e. a large portion of Latin America). Even though my science classes are a bit more difficult right now since I don’t know all of the terminology in Spanish, it will be worth it in the end and will be better than only taking central curriculum courses here (which I don’t need anyway).
All of this is also true when I’m ready to finally start applying for jobs (probably at a government agency or a university). There’s probably more ways that this experience will benefit me vocationally then I realize now.