The Value of a Field Study

Going into my major, Latin American Studies, I knew that I would eventually have to complete a internship or have an experience abroad that relates to my major.  To be honest, every time I felt like I should decide whether to go abroad a certain summer or not, I chose not to.  I never felt ready to go out of the country on my own, and I was scared of missing out on things here in the States.  I put it off every year and then this last December, it was time to grow up.  I new I could handle studying out of the country, but now I felt like I needed to do it, and that I was ready to.  I was ready for the experience and for learning in a new atmosphere that would give me valuable opinions and insights concerning the place and the people.

I was ready, so I spoke to one of the counselors for my major and told her I wanted to study abroad this summer.  She recommended that I apply for the field study program and I was so excited about the idea, so I went straight to the application and filled it out.  I had an idea about what a field study was, but I didn’t know everything that was put into the preparation and the prep class before the actual field study.  It is a lot of planning and reading and writing.  This definitely expands the value of such an experience.  Students going on field studies adapt themselves to be writers and observers and interviewers throughout the four months before they leave for their location, making them more efficient and focused when they get there.  I expect to experience culture shock and to be a little distracted by everything that is new around me in Guanajuato, but I know that I won’t have to worry about a lot of things, simply because the facilitators and program directors have addressed many of my concerns  in advance throughout the prep course.

Something interesting that I noticed is that the skills I am learning now, are helping me now as well.  They are not just skills that will only be used in the field, but they are skills that teach me to interact with the people around me, that teach me to be tolerant of others and to respect their opinions, and that teach me to approach experienced researchers and professors to get their advice and their consent, which I think will also help me in my future career.  Thanks to the prep class, I have become a better writer, a better researcher, and I have learned to prioritize, all skills that are showing through in my other courses.  My ideas are better formulated and I am learning to explain them to others clearly.

It amazes me how much I have already learned, and the process is only beginning.  I am hoping that this experience opens doors for me in the future and that learning about media and the youth in rural Guanajuato will add value to the experience I already have working with the media.  I want to work somewhere that involves the media, but also makes a difference.  I can find a place like that, but this experience will get my foot in the door and will show that I am serious and passionate about what I want to do.  I feel like a field study does that for all it’s students.  It adds experience to their resume and can teach skills that employers will find valuable to their needs.

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