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Just the Ticket I Needed: Why Study Abroad is a Must

By Anna Van Buskirk ('15)
Anna Van Buskirk
Anna Van Buskirk ('15)
A cappella Singer & Accountant 

You know that feeling when you're watching a majestic ballet and suddenly wish you'd never stopped taking dance lessons? Because now, it's too late for you to be a prima donna?

That's almost how I felt about continuing Spanish in college. I took Spanish as a child, in my Texan high school, and if I had stopped there, I'd be like most people I know who say, "Oh, yeah, I took Spanish back in high school for four years, but all I can remember is how to ask where the bathroom is and list a few foods." Yeah, no.  Not about that life. I didn't want to leave this new branch of learning unfinished so it could wither away.  That's probably why I always finish movies, because it bothers me to leave things unfinished (with the exception of Love and Other Drugs... that movie was aggressively awful).

Anna Van Buskirk Study Abroad
Anna visits Los Pentitentes, which is in the Cuyo province near-ish to Mendoza.
Apart from a need to finish what I started, you may wonder why I continued language studies in college when I had so many other activities to choose from.

Perhaps my need to achieve fluency in another language stemmed from all the books I'd read and movies I'd seen about secret agents using ninja moves. You know the characters with rocking high-tech gadgetry in slinky black spy gear who casually interacting with locals like a native speaker in several languages. Badass, right?

Anna Van Buskirk Study Abroad
Puente del Inca, which is between Mendoza and the Chilean border. 
Going to a university like Trinity with such a potpourri of diversity made me long not only to be badass, but to competently interact in a global environment. Maybe not as an international spy, but at least to understand more about other people and cultures and to find more places for myself in the world. Enter my plans to study abroad.

Over half of Trinity students study abroad, and I'm so thankful I did. In reality, being at Trinity is sort of like studying abroad-- some of my best friends are from Sweden, Indonesia, Mexico, and India. However, the saying "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page" is accurate.

Anna Van Buskirk Study Abroad
Anna visits Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires-- one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
One of the smartest things one can do is to be eager to continually discover, grow, learn, and improve. It's astounding how seeing your culture through the eyes of another can completely change your perspective. I questioned things that were always done a certain way back in the US and found myself weighing and choosing the parts I wanted from each country as part of my identity.  

I remember reading author Ken Bain's work which clearly expressed that those who have to adapt to a new situation are better for it. Studying abroad is the best way I can think of to force yourself to try new things and to learn about what's important to other cultures and to appreciate it. Besides, you have to become a better listener so you can communicate and understand correctly-- both in a grammatical and cultural sense. Besides, if you don't, you'll probably get lost all the time.

Anna Van Buskirk Study Abroad
Puente de la Mujer, the famous bridge in the Puerto Madero barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires.
I returned as a kinder friend, a better listener, fluent in Spanish, and overall, tenfold more globally intelligent. I can't think of a single job in the world in which the maturity and perspective I learned wouldn't make me incredibly competitive and contributive. For the Wicked fans out there, yes, I've been changed for the better and been changed for good.

About Anna Van Buskirk
From Baytown, Texas, senior Anna Van Buskirk is an Accounting major with minors in Music and Spanish. She works for Residential Life Staff, serves on the Academic Honor Council, and represents Admissions as a Trinity Distinguished Representative. As an AcaBella and Chamber Singer, she keeps up with her passion for music.


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