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Koret Fellowship Program

Alexis Perez

Accounting major, Class of 2019

This past fall I spent four months studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain with IES Abroad. As an accounting major, I was unable to take courses in that field so spent my time fulfilling other SCU requirements that allowed me to learn about the local culture through different lenses.  Since this was my first time out of the country I was nervous and really didn’t know what to expect when I was getting ready to leave home for four months. The most challenging part about this was learning how to stay in touch with my friends and family back home. Attending a four-year university was a big step in itself and as a senior in high school I never thought that I would be living in Spain for part of it! It was a huge step for my family and I am so grateful for everything they have helped me with to get my to this point in my life.

Aside from the few challenges, studying abroad did affect me in ways I never imagined. By exploring cities and countries that I had never been to before, I was really able to step out of my comfort zone. This encouraged me to continuously go a step further in my relationships and interactions with people from other cultures. While I had many goals going into my abroad experience, two of my biggest goals for study abroad were to become more proficient in Spanish and to become more independent. Overall I would say that I have returned home satisfied with the progress I made towards these goals.

By living with a host family in Barcelona I was able to practice my Spanish daily. When I first arrived in my host city I was not as proactive in communicating with locals and speaking in Spanish, but as time progressed, my confidence grew. This personal growth is something that I think translated into other parts of my life and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to further myself in such a beautiful place like Spain. My coursework in Barcelona also contributed to such growth. Academically, I was challenged with managing my five classes with all the exploring I did while studying abroad. During the week I was learning about local Spanish artists and visiting their museums, and on the weekend I was exploring the Costa Brava while successfully completing assignments for my classes. It was a surreal experience that taught me to prioritize and time management in a new setting and a different learning environment.

Furthermore, through studying with IES I was able to take courses at local universities. By taking a class with local and other international students I experienced a part of the Barcelona culture in a very different way. One of the most fulfilling things I did was meet up for coffee with Catalan students that I had befriended and just talk to them about life in Barcelona and the differences between their experiences and my life in the States. It allowed me to learn about my host city, Catalunya, and Spain through the lens of a student the same age as me. This and all my other abroad adventures will forever be some of my fondest memories that I carry with me as I continue my studies at Santa Clara.

Now that I am home I have had time to think about my experiences and how they will translate into my everyday life. I truly feel like I have more of a global perspective and am engaged in issues that are outside of my immediate community. I am excited to apply this to my understanding of people I meet daily and specifically at my internship this summer with KPMG. While I was abroad I also met with a employee at the local KPMG office and talked about the possibility of working abroad in the future. Now that I know this may be an option, I am interested in exploring those opportunities in the upcoming years.

Studying abroad was a once in a lifetime experience and I am extremely thankful for being a recipient of the Koret Fellowship to support me in this experience. Thank you so much for the opportunity!