Since I was little, I dreamed of living abroad. I wanted to live in a glamorous and architectural city, with rich history. And last semester I achieved that dream. I spent four months living in Dublin, Ireland and attending Trinity College. I studied, made life-long friends from around the globe and got to travel. What I didn’t realize about education abroad is how much I grew, the challenging academic environment and diverse social situations made me a better leader. I came back from Dublin more self-aware, a truly global citizen and with the ability to work with and empower diverse groups of people – all factors I consider vital in leadership. I went abroad to travel, to study and to make friends but came back to the USA a more developed leader.
I believe that to be a true leader one must be self-aware, have the ability to empower others and be a global citizen. Being self-aware means to know not just your strengths but your weaknesses. I believe that addressing weaknesses and compensating for them is even more important than flexing your strengths. The biggest strength that I encountered within myself is adaptability. I was able to quickly adapt to my environment: a new country, a new university, and a new group of friends. This adaptability will serve me well in my career, I will be able to quickly adapt to new work teams and to new work locations. I think I was adaptable prior to my semester abroad but this exchange experience gave me a chance to practice and further develop that strength. One weakness I encountered while abroad is that I require structure and at Trinity College there was a lack of structure I am used to in the USA. Classes don’t have weekly assignment, exams or even structured class. I quickly learned that I had to adopt the classes to my strength. I had to make small weekly assignments for myself or come exam time I would flounder. This experience made me realize that I must adjust situations to play to my strengths, rather than to my weaknesses. Another key component of leadership is having the ability to empower others. While abroad I was able to empower my friends to face their fears and to speak up to things they didn’t agree with. I believe that being a true leader isn’t about making yourself look good but making whatever team you work on look good as a whole. Finally, being a leader means being a global citizen.
This doesn’t mean that you have to travel to be the most traveled, it means that you have an appreciation for cultures different than your own and you value the perspectives that come along with those diverse cultures. I believe those are some of the key components to successful leadership and that my time abroad pushed me to work on being self-aware, on empowering others and on being a global citizen.