My week studying abroad in Panamá was one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences of my lifetime. Being pushed outside of my comfort zone and having such an action-packed week with business visits and a plethora of other activities provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn so much about business operations, and about myself.

There are many ways in which this experience has changed me for the better. One of the most important lessons I learned was the importance of adaptability and resilience. I am very much a person who operates on extensive preparation and planning, so being put into such an unpredictable and rapidly paced environment with a somewhat unfamiliar culture and language often forced me to quickly improvise and adapt to the circumstances. Becoming comfortable with unpredictable situations is really something that can only be learned through experience, and to me personally, was one of the most important parts of this study abroad opportunity. 

Another personally important aspect of my experience in Panamá was being able to witness and interact first hand with a culture very different from my own. Through our business visits, tours, and interactions with locals, I was able to directly witness how Panamá’s history and geography still heavily impacted many people’s lives in the present day. For example, many of the businesses we visited were very logistics oriented, due to Panama’s world famous canal. Many of the businesses were also uniquely adapted to Panama’s geography, which in turn has a significant influence on its economy.

Finally, probably my favorite part of my study abroad experience was the friendships I made. Throughout this program, I met so many amazing people, students, university staff, and others, many of whom I still keep in touch with. This amazing cohort is really what made this trip such a blast, and it was an honor to work, learn, and travel alongside them.