A game of ‘Mother May I?’ Study Abroad: An Interview with Adriana Smith


Time is FLYING by! I can't believe that Yoga Travel Tree's first Yoga excursion to Bali is already over and I am getting ready to leave for our first teacher training in Mexico! Not to mention, my team of rockstar interns will be finishing up their time at Inside Study Abroad at the end of the month. But before I get too ahead of myself...we still have Feature Friday to do! Global Pros, meet Adriana Smith. She is a member of Inside Study Abroad's education team. A Miami native, Adriana has always loved the Spanish language, and developed "languagelust" if you will. Her love of the language itself motivated her to major in Spanish (and Criminology!) and study abroad in Spain for 6 weeks.

Describe studying abroad or the desire to have a career in international education using a haiku.

I decided to do two. I was really up for the challenge!

Powered connection!

A trip to discover you,

deeper and anew.

I'm plugged to the world-

Connected to Global Pros,

My turn now to plug.

What was the deciding moment or event that led you on your first study abroad experience?

Can you believe I didn’t expect or dream of studying abroad while in college? I’m glad I came to my senses when two study abroad advisors walked into my Spanish II class and presented the idea. Really, they planted the idea, and watered and nurtured it within the 10 minutes of their presentation. This was a moment of intrigue! I couldn’t stop thinking about going on a 6 week trip to Spain, however scary or unfamiliar. I needed, or perhaps I should say, wanted to go.

I looked into the application process upon arriving to my dorm room. I didn’t even start homework, check facebook, or turn on the television before clicking away at my keyboard. I begin responding to questions ‘Name, Phone number, address, GPA’ when I remembered a roadblock: my mother. I casually called her and calmly asked her how she felt about my “decisión” to go to Spain. The result, crickets and then an “oh, no.” I knew she wouldn’t like the idea, but I pushed anyway. I stopped filling out the application, and decided to go see the advisor the next day.

I entered the advisor's office, asked some questions, and felt even more satisfied and determined to get to Spain. I did as I was told. I went to the financial aid office and filled out forms for an application fee waiver and scholarship coverage, and then of course finished the application. Within a few days, I revisited the advisor, and she immediately said that I was accepted to the program.

Obviously, the next step was to go on the program and enjoy myself. I did in some ways, and in others I didn't. But, that's another story for another day. More important though, I didn’t ask for permission, I granted my own. I was introduced to this opportunity, I followed through. All in all, I wanted it badly and I was rewarded greatly.

What excites you most about a career in international education?

One word: Connection. Connecting people, cultures, and ideas make me most excited for a career in international education. It is THE field that drives the movement of creating global citizens through various learning opportunities. Without the push to get students (later professionals in any field) to engage with and understand societies distinct from our own, we isolate our mindsets and stunt our personal and professional growth.

Connection is the language for diversity, which means we accept each others’ differences. I prefer a human-centered society over a segmented population, and the remedy is international education (aka education for a global mindset).

If you had to use one tagline for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

‘Where to next?’ - I want a tagline that questions my next move. I’m a busy-bee and I’m always up for a challenge, even if it doesn’t seem like it most times. My tagline will be the motto-motivator to ensure I continue trekking around the world, meeting new people, opening doors to new opportunities, and maintaining a fresh perspective of the world.

I can answer this question however concrete or abstract as I want, but it will be a reminder that I’m on a daily, monthly, and yearly adventure. As long as the question mark remains, I’m not stopping, otherwise I’d become complacent and frozen in time.

What are the best ways to learn about the roles professionals play and their significance in the international education field?

The most direct way to learn about any roles and how professionals contribute to the international education field is by speaking with these professionals. They hold a wealth of knowledge -from years of experience and network. To get the inside scoop, you must talk to the inside man or woman. I have been fortunate to have interacted and connected with several individuals in the field who help to guide me professionally. Taking a trip to Ecuador with a professional further established a relationship.

An indirect approach is to read, research, and reinforce what's going on in the field. I subscribe to various newsletters from well-known organizations, such as NAFSA, Forum of Education Abroad, and the Institute of International Education. I have access to the dialogues, trends, and challenges that are currently happening and relevant. I want to be a member of the field, thus I must possess the knowledge like one.

Want to learn more about Adriana? Connect with her online! You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and About.Me. Have a question for Adriana? Shoot her message in the comment section below.

Be sure to check back next Friday to get the inside scoop on our team here at Inside Study Abroad!