In June 2014, I was in the middle of an internship in social media at a sports newspaper in Seville, Spain. I had started a couple of months prior and was scheduled to stay until the end of the World Cup later in July. It was stressful to say the least.
I’ve always been a big sports fan, but I admit that my knowledge of headline writing and “soccer” in general was limited at the start. When the opportunity at this newspaper first came through to my email inbox, I could have let the fear of revealing my inadequacies keep me from accepting. I could have said “I can’t” to meeting some of the most talented athletes in the world. I could have said “I’m not ready yet” to experiencing the Spanish soccer world from an intern’s perspective.
Deciding to study abroad was my first big step out of my comfort zone. Admittedly, it was tough. It wasn’t glamorous like I had dreamed it would be. In Seville, there was no air-conditioning anywhere. Even though the locals are used to having foreign students fumbling through their Spanish dictionaries, not everyone was patient or polite. There were many days when my self-esteem would be outright crushed when my supervisor told me an article I had spent hours working on was “horrible” or “sounded like a kindergartener wrote it.”
While those days were hellishly uncomfortable and even made me consider going home before my scheduled time was up, I kept pushing forward. Instead of focusing on how perfect my Spanish sports writing was not, I focused on how much it had improved. I focused on all of the experiences and everyday learning opportunities that I had already had and all of the ones that lay ahead. By the time Luiz Suarez from Uruguay had bitten his last victim of the season, I was churning out articles that needed minimal revision and holding extensive conversations with sports fans all over the city. I had also earned a spot on the Dean’s List.
Fast forward one year and now I’m in an exploratory position at one of the largest residential and commercial security companies in the US learning the ins and outs of small-scale commercial software development. I was hesitant about leaving Texas for the business partner half of my Praxis experience. I had a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) on home state comforts like friends, family and Whataburger.
Six weeks after finishing the Fall 2014 semester in Texas and postponing graduation, I packed my whole life into my car and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I began working at ADS Security. The move itself was nerve-racking to say the least, complete with a flat tire that required an overnight pit-stop in Memphis and housing plans in Nashville that fell through at the last minute (fortunately, I was able to get settled into a comfortable living arrangement quickly afterwards). In my short time at ADS, I’ve managed to break codes, learn to fix them, break them again, spill coffee grinds all over one of our VPs and then impress him with a conversation about entrepreneurship and philosophical concepts that I learned through the Praxis curriculum.
My experience is just one of the many within the Praxis program. I’ve learned that Murphy’s Law is applicable in every situation, especially in unfamiliar territory. Getting dropped into a foreign country where I had minimal conversational experience and was expected to perform at a relatively high level was hard. Convincing myself to leave friends and family behind to leave my educational bubble, take time off from college, and jump into Praxis was even harder.
Both the Praxis experience and the process of finding my own way down the unbeaten path have been challenging, but, looking back, I can’t even fathom doing things any other way.