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Student view: So many international experiences

March 11, 2022 - Ellie Lico

Ellie Lico (she/her/hers) is a senior at JMC from Sterling Heights, Michigan majoring in social relations and policy (SRP) and international relations (IR) and minoring in European studies and Spanish. She is passionate about human rights and social justice advocacy and is involved on campus through multiple student organizations and research opportunities, including serving on the executive board of MSU Women*s Council and as an AREA (Advancing Racial Equity and Advocacy) Fellow. Lico is also a student coordinator with JMC’s Office of Diversity. After she graduates, Lico will spend an academic year teaching in Spain and then plans to attend law school.

photo of Ellie Lico

Since I was 10-years old, I dreamed of studying abroad. My cousin, who is an alumna of Michigan State, participated in a study abroad program that took her all around Europe and, to me, that was the coolest thing I could imagine. Learning, traveling AND creating lifelong memories… What could be better than that? Fortunately, I got a snapshot of this dream when I completed a two-week study abroad in London as a part of my MC 202 class during my first year at JMC. It was an incredible opportunity to expand my boundaries of travel and education to work with other JMC students on an international research project.

After the program in London, I applied to another study abroad program that allowed me to accomplish my long-term study abroad goal and gain experience relevant to my degrees at JMC by incorporating my required field experience. Additionally, since there was an option to complete it in Spain, I would be able to incorporate my passion for Spanish language learning. With the guidance of Max Olivero, JMC’s field experience coordinator, I was accepted into the field experience program in Madrid, Spain! As I prepared for internship interviews, I did not realize that the world was about to change.

Two months before my program was scheduled to begin, it was canceled due to the pandemic. Even though it was necessary, this was a very difficult opportunity to let go of. Luckily, one year later I was able to revisit this opportunity with a virtual approach. Max, once again, helped me prepare for the virtual internship where I was connected with a non-profit organization in Spain.

While I was unable to travel, this experience allowed me to accomplish all of the other goals that I had eagerly prepared for and provided me with a new network and skillset to take with me after graduation. Despite completing this internship at home rather than in Madrid, I received the experience of a lifetime.

Once this program ended and I realized that I had a flight voucher leftover from my original ticket to Spain, I began thinking about how I could expand my exciting experience from the summer.

After graduation, I am planning to move to Madrid and teach while working with the non-profit from my field experience before I attend law school. As it turns out, I probably would not have considered my future plans in Spain if I had studied abroad the way that I originally planned. Since I acquired experience and connections during my field experience, I feel confident to move there on my own, which is something my 10-year-old self would have never imagined. I am so excited to be able to study, learn, work and engage in Spanish language and culture in a way that I have looked forward to for as long as I can remember, and I would not be here without all of the guidance and experiences at James Madison.