This post was contributed by Amarachi Ngwakwe, a Global Ambassador for fall 2020. Amarachi is a Humanities and Health and Society major studying abroad in London, United Kingdom. Amarachi will also be taking over our Instagram Stories @texasglobalabroad, so be sure to follow along as she shares her experiences abroad!
Secure an Internship or Job While Abroad
As a senior come May 2021, when my yearlong exchange program ends, I will be transitioning into post-grad life. I will cross that glorious graduation stage, serve the world a good old “Hook ‘em” and begin my career by securing a job in the media industry.
To accomplish this, gaining professional experience in my field is my number one goal while studying abroad in London.
While academics serve as the foundation of gaining skills and expertise in my field, the application of that knowledge is the key to opening career doors and demonstrating my professional abilities to employers.
Throughout my time at UT, I have held numerous internships and volunteer positions that have provided clarity about my personal and professional goals. I plan to make my time in London no different.
An internship will allow me to
- sharpen my professional skills so I am prepared to start a career once my study abroad program ends,
- develop professional connections on an international scale, and
- provide me with some pocket change so ya girl can support herself financially lol.
If I decide to stay in London, professional experience through an internship or job will allow me to establish connections that could turn into more opportunities in the future.
I want this year to be an exercise in independence, and growing in my career is a major part of that.
Build Meaningful Relationships
After participating in short-term Maymesters in Costa Rica, New York, and London, I can guarantee you one thing about studying abroad: you always meet people who make you want to stay.
While abroad, the magic of serendipity is working overtime as you cross paths with people from all over the world and go through experiences that change your life. Maybe you have a host family that makes you feel welcomed or have a chance meeting at a Caribbean food shop with a girl who becomes your best friend (both of these have happened to me).
You can’t plan for these moments — they just happen, but they are some of the most beautiful experiences in the world.
While it is paramount to remain mindful of your safety and always approach new relationships with caution, making new friends is one of the best parts of studying abroad, and my goal is to build friendships while I’m in London.
I chose to study abroad for a year, specifically because I want to stay for the harvest.
What does that mean? When you start anything, your initial efforts are the seeds. Like a farmer you plant them in the ground hoping they will bear fruit. However, seeds need water, light, love and most importantly time to grow. I felt like I needed a year to see the fruits of my labor and build meaningful, long-lasting professional, social, and academic relationships.
Be Present, Stress Less, and Take Risks
I spent most of my undergrad worrying about the future.
Constantly consumed by the daunting question of, “what’s next?”, my time at UT was characterized by four years of worrying about graduating on time, securing internships, completing assignments, and having my whole life figured out.
I was so afraid of not knowing or having the answers to my future that I tried to plan out everything. While planning can be beneficial, in excess it can also be an unhealthy coping mechanism that feeds into anxiety and fear. Planning was my way of trying to control the future, a failed attempt at ensuring I avoided mistakes and setbacks in life.
However, the very act of living is characterized by mistakes and setbacks — we all go through them because they are a normal part of life.
I realized that by running away from failure I wasn’t living at all — I was hiding. Hiding from my purpose and my potential. I realized that instead of trying to live a life void of mistakes, I needed to learn to be comfortable with the unknown. Because sometimes in life we won’t have the answer. We won’t even know what we’re doing, much less “what’s next?”, but I’ve realized that it’s okay to not know and have grown to trust myself to figure it out.
I don’t want to spend this year abroad worrying about the future. I want to soak up every moment, be present, and believe in myself to accomplish great things. I worked too hard to get to this point only to squander it in fear. I deserve better. My efforts deserve better. This is going to be a great year, and I can’t wait to look back at this list and realize how I spoke all of my dreams into existence.