Alumni Spotlight: Karime Diaz


Karime Diaz is currently an Alumni Ambassador with CEA Study Abroad and a senior at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She fulfilled an international internship in Barcelona, Spain in Summer 2017. Traveling is something that she is passionate about and encourages anyone to do if they have the opportunity.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to fulfill an internship in a workplace setting that would challenge and help me learn more about my potential. I chose Barcelona because it was an ideal metropolitan city that had both the history and culture I was looking for.

I originally wanted to accomplish my internship in Madrid, but was happy that I did it in Barcelona instead. This city offers versatility in the sense that it had something for everyone, for example, there was a beach for the beach-goers and plenty of art museums to visit. I definitely have left a piece of my heart in Barcelona and hope to return to this charming place in the near future.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had two offices assist me with the process: Kean University's Center for International Studies office and the CEA Study Abroad office located in Phoenix, Arizona. I had to apply to both offices separately. CEA Study Abroad helped me the most with my process by reminding me to accomplish everything on my pre-departure checklist and just being a great resource. It was really generous for them to provide us with a travel voucher to use towards lowering our plane ticket price because as we know traveling can get pricey.

The things that I had to do on my own were to make sure I accomplished everything on my pre-departure checklist, for example filling out my housing application on time. One thing I want to point out is that CEA is very organized and they really found great living accommodations for us to spend our time in. The CEA onsite staff were there every step of the way once we arrived and helped us with anything whether it was restaurant recommendations or setting up doctor's appointments for us.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

One piece of advice that I would give someone going on my program is be aware that workspaces might be smaller and more intimate than ones in The United States. Going in, I was expecting to be working in a huge office with cubicles and separate work spaces, but was greeted by an office space in an apartment overlooking the beautiful Barcelona skyline.

By the end of the program, I really enjoyed working there because the environment made it less stressful and more enjoyable to work. Another aspect is that internship abroad programs are slightly different from a traditional study abroad one, for example, you are not just a student taking classes, but a professional as well obtaining life-long skills that will help you in the future. Another important thing I want people to be aware of-do not feel that you need to know everything about your career going in. This is the time to learn, make mistakes and gain experience worthwhile.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Moreover, as an intern, there were requirements and a schedule we had to follow each week in our two month period. We had to fulfill about 15-20 hours per week at our internship sites and a total of 120 hours before the program ended.

The average week consisted of working, interacting with co-workers, attending work events and exploring the city and embracing the culture. There were times where students would take the weekends to travel to neighboring cities and explore the popular attractions over there.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going into my experience abroad was being able to navigate the city and find my way around. I was especially concerned I wouldn't find my way to my internship placement, but during our orientation, the onsite staff gave us an activity to guide us to our locations so we knew ahead of time where we were going.

The way I also overcame this fear was by taking public transportation on my own, specifically the metro which helped me to map out the city and remember key landmarks. By the end of the program, I was taking the metro like a pro and genuinely enjoyed the daily commute that consisted of people-watching, street performers, and awesome scenery. Once you take yourself out of your comfort zone, you would be surprised what you can accomplish.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?

One thing that is really good to know is that with an internship schedule, you have the weekend free to explore your host city and to travel to close-by countries! Another great thing is that it's pretty cheap to travel around Europe.

There are so many beautiful memories and stories that I cherish that there is not one favorite. One memory that really sticks out is the one where we interns got to celebrate San Juan for the first time on the beach. I have never saw so many people in my life on one entire location enjoying each other's company and celebrating life to the fullest; it was a worthwhile experience.