Alumni Spotlight: Joelle Messianu


Joelle is a Mexican American that grew up in Miami, Florida. She studied psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park and then moved to Extremadura, Spain to teach English for two years. She then decided to complete her Masters in Corporate Communication from IE Business School in Madrid. Ever since, she's been working as a PR professional with top global grands and trying to make time for traveling.

Why did you pick this program?

The main reason is because I wanted to move to Spain. It seemed like the best fit for me in terms of compensation, hours, and experience.

I also liked the idea of working for the Ministry of Education.I thought it would be a better resume builder than some other programs.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Keep an open mind and talk to strangers (contrary from what my parents taught me growing up).

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

DO IT!! You only live once and it's the most rewarding experience out there. It's a great way to get to know yourself and learn about different cultures.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

I was placed in a town with 4,000 people in the most remote area of Spain (Extremadura). I had hoped to be placed in Madrid, Spain. But because of an error in my application, the request never went through.

Anyways, I debated even going abroad because when I read about the town called Hervas, wikipedia said "wild pigs roam the area". Having grown up in Miami, it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around it. Anyways, I can definitely say that living in pueblito in Spain was the best thing that's happened to me to date.

What made this experience unique and special?

The people. I was "forced" to interact with people completely different from me that opened my mind to a different way of life. I learnt what it meant to enjoy life and nature.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I worked less than 20 hours a week and traveled twice a month. What else is there to say? I was living the dream! I also went hiking at least twice a week. And napping was completely acceptable and encouraged.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

The place and people. Hervas, Spain is completely gorgeous. It's a small serene town filled with charming streets, a well-conserved Jewish quarter, beautiful mountains and plenty of bars & young people to enjoy it with.

My Spanish also improved a lot. I now work in Spanish. Another big thing for me is that it made me get over my fear of public speaking. I remember my hands used to shake the first couple weeks of class.