When coming to Spain, I knew I wanted to travel a lot and visit many places. ISA facilitated guided visits to Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, and Segovia and each visit was incredible; not solely due to the breathtaking views, monuments, plazas, and cathedrals, but because we benefited from fantastic tour guides that helped us understand the historical importance of each and every site. They connected historical events with the architecture and the art. They made it easy to care about what they were talking about even if you have never studied a certain part of Spanish history.
As I continued to travel on my own, I began to notice a pattern in the way I would communicate with people I met. I had adopted a specific trait that resembled that of my tour guides: engaging with enthusiasm. While I have always been able to start a conversation with a new person, I have never had to introduce myself and retell the same stories and anecdotes to so many people in such a short period of time. To every new person I meet, I explain where I come from, what I am doing in Spain, crack the same jokes, and explain why is it that I am studying Spanish even though I am a native Spanish speaker. My friends can and have even recounted my whole intro spiel because I have said it so many times. I realized that more than learning history from my tour guides, I have been learning how to be a better tour guide myself (a College Ambassador I should say). Back in the United States, part of my College Ambassador position in school is to give prospective students and their families a tour of my campus. To every new group I meet, I explain what school I came from, what I am studying, crack the same jokes, and explain why they should consider applying to The College of New Jersey. Sound familiar?
Building relationships from scratch, is what each of my tour guides do for a living. Federica in Rome, Gema in Madrid, Manuel in Toledo, and Carmen in Salamanca have been giving the same tours for years. Despite having to retell the same information over and over, sometimes 3 times a day, these individuals have learned to personalize their tour and make their guests feel welcomed during their visit. I admire their work and look up to them as an example of attitude I should carry when giving campus tours.
Studying abroad is surely teaching me how to be a better College Ambassador.
The world awaits…discover it.