Alumni Spotlight: Kaitlyn West

Kaitlyn West is from South Lyon, Michigan and attends Michigan State University. She enjoys learning languages, horseback riding, and shoe shopping.

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Connect 123 in Spain?

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Actually, I didn't directly choose Connect 123. Michigan State University, where I attend college, chose Connect 123 as the company through which to send their Barcelona program student interns. This was the first year of the MSU intern abroad program in Barcelona, and the first year that MSU has worked with Connect 123. I can tell you that was a smart choice on MSU's part! I loved working with Connect 123. The owner and founder of the company, Lea Levy, couldn't have helped make the experience any better! I would highly recommend using Connect 123 to anybody who asks and in any of their locations around the world.

What made this internship experience unique and special?

Let me just say there's nothing ordinary at all about getting the opportunity to spend your whole summer interning abroad. I would say if there was one thing that made it even more unique than the already inherent nature of interning in a foreign country, it was being in the city of Barcelona itself. Barcelona is situated in between the mountains and the beach and being that it is in Europe there is affordable and easy access to so many other beautiful European cities.

One day after work our MSU group decided to hike up Mt Tibidabo, we spent countless afternoons on the beach, and often on weekends we traveled around Europe. There was not just one thing that made this experience unique, but it was being in Barcelona that gave us a plethora of options we couldn't have dreamed possible before the trip.

How has this experience impacted your future?

I want to be a high school Spanish teacher. Therefore, this experience was invaluable to my Spanish language learning. I was able to enhance my comprehension, speaking, and written Spanish skills tremendously. Not to overlook the amount of cultural knowledge I was able to gain while abroad. I can now use these skills and this knowledge in my future classroom to teach my future students. I can't think of anything more beneficial as a future teacher than to be able to live in and work in the environment of your second language. To completely immerse myself in the culture was more helpful than I can describe in my mission to perfect my Spanish language knowledge.

Moreover, the time abroad, living on my own in a foreign place for three months was crucial to my personal growth. Even my mom mentioned how much more independent I became after this experience. It's something inevitable when you live on your own, having to communicate in a foreign language, navigating your way through a new city, and going to work every day. It was the most gratifying thing I've done thus far in my life.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Spain?

Magic Fountain in Montjuic, Spain

If I were to offer advice to someone thinking about interning abroad I would tell them just to do it. Yes it costs a lot of money, yes there are a lot of logistics to figure out, yes it is often a lot of traveling to make it to your destination, but also yes it is an experience unmatched by anything. I spent the best summer of my life in Barcelona this year.

Those were three months that I had dreamed of and thought about for my whole life and the actual experience exceeded every one of my expectations. If you're at all hesitant or apprehensive I would say just do it! You won't regret it. I'm not going to lie and say that was having fun every single minute; yes there were times of nervousness and difficulty in regards to my job or navigation or money, but overall it was all worth it.

The experiences that I gained professionally while simultaneously growing as a person and earning college credit are an unmatched experience. I have found that it is always beneficial to break outside of the normal and into the new or even uncomfortable if you really want to learn and grow. That is what I did this summer. In short, put all doubts aside, if any, and go abroad!