Whitman Student Gains Insight Into Professional Goals, Practices Her Native Language During Semester Abroad

Daniella French ’23 (WSM/NEW) knew she had to continue practicing her native language, Spanish, when she went away to college. Studying abroad at Syracuse University’s Madrid Center was the perfect solution for that. 

Initially, studying overseas was not a priority for French when selecting a university. However, she says, “Once I got to college, I realized that the opportunity to transfer my studies to a foreign country was so easy, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’” And, she realized that going to Madrid was the best way to perfect the language she had grown up speaking

Right off the bat, French was utilizing her language skills, as she observed the different practices and norms of how business is conducted in Europe. The entrepreneurship and public relations dual major with a minor in Spanish hopes to start her own makeup line one day, and after going abroad she noticed there is much more to it than she thought. 

She says, “I found that it is a lot easier to say I want to run a global business one day. You learn in class how a business in the U.S. cannot be run the same in Spain or other countries. However, you do not realize how intricate and complicated it gets until you go abroad and see it for yourself.”

Additionally, French observed the difference in work culture. In Europe, she found working to be a way of life and not the top priority among people. Seeing this kind of environment makes her think more about how she wants to run her own business one day and what kind of company culture she wants to create for employees. 

Another cultural experience French enjoyed during her time abroad was the food. “Trying the different meals, exploring new restaurants and learning about the different cuisines was probably one of my favorite parts of being in Madrid,” she says. She discovered what became her go-to order, huevos rotos, a traditional dish with fried eggs and potatoes. 

Some classes French was enrolled in were Spanish, art history and psychology. But, one of the highlights of her time in Madrid occurred in BIO 312: Marine Ecology of the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa. The course concluded with a 10-day SCUBA diving seminar during which she became certified in the underwater activity. 

Above all, French learned a lot about independence and sense of self during her semester overseas. She found herself periodically embracing a wave of gratitude while walking the streets of Madrid and was reminded of her motivation to do great things while over in Spain. 

“Durante mi semestre en Madrid, yo tuve que pensar, tomar acción y aprender por mí misma. Esto es algo que yo experimenté cuando llegué a la universidad por la primera vez, pero se enfatiza cuando estás sola en el otro lado del mundo,” she says. 

Translation: “During my semester abroad, I really had to think on my own, act on my own and learn to make decisions for myself. This is something I experienced when I arrived at college for the first time, but it really gets emphasized when you’re on the other side of the world by yourself,” she says.

Martin J. Whitman School of Management offers many global opportunities for students. Learn more about Whitman students and their experiences. 

Anna Rooney