With three study abroad trips under his belt and experience working as an international education abroad intern for the American Semester Program and Exchanges, Spanish senior Keith Tindall has made the most of his time at MSU and applied his Spanish major in a variety of ways.
What prompted you to major in Spanish?
I started to excel in Spanish in high school and I got to a point where I was actually able to speak it, which was mind-blowing for me. I think part of the reason I was able to excel in Spanish is because I took interest in the cultural aspect. I just enjoy speaking Spanish with others. The idea of intercultural communications and breaking down barriers is very interesting to me.
Did you come to MSU knowing you were going to major in Spanish?
I came to MSU as a double major in Spanish and Business, and admittedly I was focusing more on business. I later realized I didn’t want to do business and changed my major to Anthropology as a double. I then realized I didn’t want to do that either, so I dropped that and made Spanish my only major. Now I have a Spanish major and Educational Studies minor.
How do you plan to apply your Spanish major after graduation?
I want to work in international education and student affairs. I would love to do academic advising and study aboard program coordinating. I first started thinking about international education and student affairs when I got the on-campus job that I’m currently at, which is working for the first-year seminar abroad programs.
I went on a first-year seminar abroad in Spain the summer leading up to my freshman year, and it happened that the creator of the programs, Jim Lucas, needed an office assistant. I ended up getting that position, and the longer I work here, the more I realize that the field of international education is a possibility I can pursue, and it aligns so well with my Spanish major.
Can you explain more about your experiences working with student affairs?
This past summer, I worked in education abroad with the American Semester Program and Exchanges. Three other interns and I worked with a short course program that comes to MSU in the summer. There are a couple programs lasting about three weeks where students come to MSU from around the world, mostly from Australia, Africa, and China.
This internship started in May and began by creating the program, including tasks like tracking applications, planning excursions, and making reservations. When the students got to MSU in early July, myself and the other interns all participated in the program with them.
How was that experience working with the American Semester Program and Exchanges?
I really liked it and all the students were great! My job during the school year involves sending students abroad outbound, so I was happy to have the opportunity to work with students who were inbound from other countries coming here. It was a great work environment and I loved the people I worked with. Overall, it was a really great experience in the field of international education.
What is your current role with the American Semester Program and Exchanges?
I’m an ambassador right now for the American Semester Program, because during the school year there are international students here, and any international student who’s not degree-seeking is under this American Semester Program role.
The ambassadors act as friends to the international students coming in and participate in the programs whenever they can to build connections. Oftentimes, it’s hard for international students to break out of their shell and integrate themselves. The goal of being an ambassador is to have American students that international students can interact with and experience typical American life with.
Can you tell me about your study abroad experiences?
The summer following my freshman year, I went to Spain for two months with a College of Arts & Letters program, the Hispanic Studies in Valencia, which was faculty led. I was there with other MSU students living with a host family and taking classes. The region where I was at in Spain speaks another language, Catalan, and where I was, they spoke a dialect of Catalan. When you move around in Spain, there’s a lot of language influences, so even when you’re speaking Spanish it sounds a lot different from place to place.
In spring 2019, I stayed with a host family in Quito, Ecuador, as a direct exchange for the entire semester with two other MSU students. I attended the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, where I took two classes that went toward my Spanish degree, a Portuguese language class and an Anthropology class. In Ecuador, there were many times where I was the only American in a certain space, and I had a lot of free time, which helped me gain independence.
What would you say was the most impactful part of studying abroad?
The act of overcoming the culture shock and being persistent in handling situations you could have never seen coming has been the longest-term benefit. The flexibility and willingness to try new things and persistence are really the traits that come back with you after being abroad.
Could you see yourself living in a Spanish-speaking country?
I’m actually looking to teach English in Spain for nine months this coming fall. I would love to be in a Spanish-speaking country for an extended amount of time. I’m not sure about living there and putting down roots, but I would like to immerse myself more in the Spanish language.
Written by Annie Dubois