Calihan Huntley – Stabroad Student – Little Girl, Big World

When studying abroad, there are two different types of students. Those who emphasize “study” and those who emphasize “abroad”. After emphasizing “studies” for the first 19 years of my life, I was planning and preparing to be one of the “abroad” students.

That is, until I attended college orientation on August 30 and was told, “This is not going to be a gale semester for you, this is the best college economy of Europe. And as the weeks passed, I realized that they meant business. If you didn’t work weekend hours, you failed.

I had three different professional tutors who told me that they didn’t know how to do my international business homework, so they couldn’t help me.

I walked into my Game Theory halfway through feeling a little confident, only to be hit with a question I had never seen before that required some advanced math to complete.

When my international politics professor told us that the midterm average was 47%, I arrogantly walked out of the room because I thought I was the outlier. It was the next day that I was told that I had been doing the wrong things the whole semester, but we had never gone past the correct path in class or during office hours, so I didn’t know any better. .

This whole semester, the school system has felt comically against me, which has never happened to me before. I was always the one who was in office hours every week, having notes on everything the teacher said and feeling confident when I took tests. I’ve always felt like anything below an A fails, and now my class averages 42%.

It’s even worse to realize that I’m nicknamed Study while my friends and roommates are nicknamed Abroad. They see the most beautiful places, meet the most amazing people and I can only imagine the photography opportunities. But my weekends have to be filled with studying because my classes directly affect my GPA. Then, when free time arrives, or when I have the opportunity to photograph a group that passes by at 1am…sleep is the only thing I want.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of someone asking you, ‘So where have you traveled since you’ve been in Madrid? and you don’t have a list of amazing places you’ve seen. I can’t even say that I fully explored Madrid as it deserves to be seen. So many historic sites I haven’t seen yet and so many neighborhoods I don’t know.

So there I was the week after midterm, walking to the Starbucks where I study while listening to a National Geographic podcast. The same one that, last semester, delighted me for all the photo opportunities I would have while traveling in Europe. It was as if Lightroom had trained for a marathon and was now on the bench.

I have regularly said that no matter what I do, there seems to be no way to pass these classes. I felt good get into my game theory halfway through. Of course, I was anxious, but I could correctly solve each problem in the study guide. Then I was thrown a curveball. Coming from a college with a liberal arts background, the highest math class I took was applied calculus.

Despite my studies, having professors who refuse office hours, contacting tutors who drop out at the last minute, emailing counselors at my home university for help who never respond, talking with the academic advisors who work for the program I’m with overseas…it really seems like they’ve all formed a pact to work against me.

So I decided that with seven weeks until I fly back to the United States, I will no longer be a study. From now on, I will be Calihan Huntley, student of Stabroad.

Look, my ingrained personality won’t allow me to completely blow away homework and school, but I won’t wake up on Sunday nights to realize that I’ve wasted another full week at the library. I will complete my homework, do my best and continue to meet with my tutors. But if I still can’t figure it out after spending all my resources, it seems like I need to change my focus to foreign.

The main concern is my GPA, which needs to be perfect to even be considered for the jobs I want. It is also very important for my home university that I come back with the same GPA that I left with. They have a great reputation to uphold and don’t want it to be sullied. However, when I asked them if there were any other resources I could take advantage of since I fight a lot more here than there, they didn’t answer.

Nothing says, however, that I can’t compartmentalize my GPAs. The courses I take at the home university relate to this GPA, and the courses I take at the University of Madrid relate to this GPA. These are two entirely different experiences and difficulty levels, so they should be counted in two entirely different ways.

I still don’t quite understand why companies are turning to GPA in the first place. Sure, that’s a good indicator if you can stick with something, but once you’ve gotten a few internships, I think the letters of recommendation should be higher. Maybe my grades drop in some courses abroad where the learning curve is huge, but ask the CEO of my summer internship company, and I’m an absolute genius.

I work hard for companies, and that’s all future employers need to know. So now what I’m going to do is see Madrid and its surroundings.

The goal is to see or try something new every day. Whether it’s visiting a well-documented site or simply getting off the metro at a stop I don’t know.

Will I continue to wake up on Monday mornings sick with anxiety because I might be called upon to solve the last game theory problem on the board during my 9am class? Probably yes, but I will have memories of Paris and Italy and the UK and Spain like tears in my eyes.

Yours sincerely,


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