Why You Should Go Abroad – Perspectives from the Business World

When deciding whether to go abroad or not, I really tried to weigh the pros and cons of embarking on an experience like this. I found that many of my pros and reasons for wanting to travel abroad were due to advancement in the business world. Studying abroad is such a unique experience in which one can gain a variety of different skills that ultimately serve to make you a more marketable candidate in your future job search

One of my biggest pros was the language I would be exposed to. By traveling abroad to Viña del Mar, Chile, I would get to experience a type of South American Spanish. I knew this would help me in life after graduation as many of the international companies I’ve looked into have operations in Latin and South America. By going abroad, I got the chance to improve my Spanish speaking skills in the area I intend to use them after graduation. Beyond the regional advantage of practicing my Spanish in Chile, the fact that I can now put Spanish language competency on my resume will go a long way in my future job search. Especially in the realm of International Business, employers love seeing bilingual capabilities.

I knew that traveling abroad would push me out of my comfort zone and help me to gain new skills as well as grow as a person. However, I didn’t know the extent of how it would affect my life (and my resume) until I got back. I’m lucky in that we have at my university a post study abroad course that helps us decode all that we learned abroad, as well as really focus on the skills we acquired. Here is a list of just some of the skills that I learned from my time abroad:

-To take initiative and risk

-To be more independent in my choices and actions

-To communicate despite barriers

-To be more self-aware, as well as self-confident

-To overcome obstacles in order to achieve my goals

-To be a smart traveler

-To be more sensitive to differences in customs and cultures

-To be more open-minded and flexible

In a mock interview I had last week, I found that most of the questions asked could be answered by using this experience (although as a disclaimer: I would not advise using the same example in every answer to every interview question…).

“Name a time when you had a problem with communication and the steps you took to overcome that.”

…I’m not sure I can name a day that I was abroad and DIDN’T have some type of problem with communication. The experience is full of me not understanding what a professor or host family member or waitress is trying to communicate to me.

          “Give an example of a time you had to use your Spanish skills to solve a problem.”

You mean like the time my friends and I found ourselves hotel-less in downtown Santiago, at 11 o’clock at night, and it seemed like every hotel and hostel we called was full? I can tell you all about the taxi driver that was an absolute angel (pronounced “ahn-hel” because it’s Spanish) and how I used my limited vocabulary to eventually find a room for us.

Not only are these new skills beneficial in the interview itself, but also to get the interview in the first place. My resume displays my study abroad experience as additional education, and has bullets listing some of the skills mentioned above as well as my level of Spanish proficiency. It’s just one more thing to differentiate me from my peers that are applying from the same jobs.

I would greatly encourage those considering to study abroad to look at the practical benefits that come with an experience such as this one. And, in addition to making you a more employable and well-rounded person, it’s also a lot of fun. The people I met and opportunities I had made my study abroad one of the most life-changing semesters of my life. Just Go!

Madison County Bridge Fest Take 4

If you’ve ever wondered what the middle of nowhere looks like….Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.34.42 AM

Winterset, IA is host to the annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival. The fest is held every year in their quaint little town square. They have everything from chocolate covered bacon to freshly bottled rootbeer to antique stores to comfort food cafes. It’s like a really really really small version of the Iowa State Fair.

One of my oldest friends and I have made a tradition out of attending the festival, which may sound lame but probably only if you’re not from Iowa. It’s actually pretty cool. One year we got wax hands made so.

To be honest I tried to get out of going this year… But I am SO glad I went and got to eat cheese curds and blue ribbon fried chicken with one of my best friends!

This is what happens when I try to work the self timer on my phone:

we tried


Super fun though, come see what else IowAwesome has to offer you!


Things I Love About Fall (Drake Themed)

1. Salted Caramel Mochas. More specifically- the fact that my favorite barista KNOWS I love this fall drink and we smile every time we see each other because we both know the words that I’m about to say… “Nonfat Salted Caramel Mocha pleeeease” (followed by two joyous smiles). It’s the little things, ya know?

2. Football Games. So actually I haven’t been to a football game this year at all (I know I’m sorry bulldogs) but I totally plan on it! I just always forget to.. But usually they’re one of my favorite things about fall. I love fall weather, and being outside to enjoy it is the best. Especially when I get to support a team while doing it.

(Along the same lines- sry to the boys & girls soccer teams also, I’m just busy, it’s not you it’s me.)

3. The Leaves. Is that cliche? Yes. I don’t care. They’re so beautiful on Drake’s campus. It’s like all of them choose to change at a different time so that the campus can always be filled with the widest array of beautiful fall colors. Gorgeous.

4. Fall Break. It always comes at the perfect time- stressed out about school, so sleep deprived I’m on the brink of dreamstate in every one of my classes, missing my family (dog)… Perfect timing DU. I’m SO ready to travel the long road home (10 mins) and visit some of my friends this weekend and then sleep for two straight days. And study maybe.

5. Boots & Sweaters. I love being comfortable. Boots and Sweaters are my life in the fall/winter. I love it.

6. Homecoming. Drake shows it’s students so much love during homecoming, it’s so great. I feel like ours is mega late this year but still exciting. Nothing like high school, but still nice.

7. Covered Bridge Fest. This actually has nothing to do with Drake, but is on my list of exciting activities for this weekend. One of my longest friends and I always take a trip out to Winterset for the Covered Bridge Festival, which is like a smaller lamer version of the fair. With root beer and pulled pork sandwiches and kettle corn. I can’t wait, I love fall traditions.

8. Parents Weekend. I know I already wrote about this but it’s still one of my favorite parts of fall. This year, one of my best friends came to visit her brother and completely surprised me. It was the highlight of my week/month/year?

mollie kaya kappa

9. The Weather. I know I briefly mentioned this above, but fall weather makes any activity more fun. Whether it’s running a 5k with a friend or walking downtown or drinking a coffee outside, I love being outside to enjoy this beautiful weather. The one time of year Iowa weather is bearable.


Fall Visit Days

I recently got nominated to represent the World Language and Culture program at Drake’s fall visit day luncheons, which is weirdly exciting for me. We had a meeting yesterday and talked about all the great things Drake has to offer and all of the great things we as students have been doing and it was literally so fun. The woman in charge is SO excited about Drake, and her passion was seriously contagious.

I love that I’m representing our WLC program, because it gets a bad rap so often. Drake DOES offer languages, and as proof, I can now have full conversations en Español cuando solamente dos años pasado no sabía nada. That may not be correct grammar, but I still know much more than I did two years ago when I came here. Although we don’t have language minors here, the certificate of competence is comparable I think. Either way I’m learning a new language. Who cares what I call that on my resume. In addition, I’ve gotten to learn so much about other cultures that I can carry into my future as well.

The other representatives were so interesting to hear from in our meeting, and seemed equally as excited as me. One girl representing our Political Science major (I believe) was talking about how she created her own focus on Middle Eastern policies and is traveling in November with a group of other students and professors to Turkey to do further research in that area. Another girl representing Psychology spoke of her involvement in Psychology clubs on campus and how that has only increased her love of the subject, along with helping her to get more connected with Psychology professionals and work more closely with the real world.

It was seriously so cool to hear about what my classmates are doing, and exciting to me that I actually have a reason to put my Drake experience into more of an elevator speech now to share with incoming students. I’m excited to show students the value of our language program and how that has positively affected my past 2 and a half years here. Having these conversations will be so rewarding, and I can’t wait to share my love of Drake with these wonderful prospective students.

Overcoming Language Barriers, one badly constructed sentence at a time

When I got off the bus in Viña del Mar last spring, after a two hour long bus ride with 4 other English speaking Americans, I was not expecting the welcome I received.

“Tu eres Mollie, tan liiiinda, estoy tan emocionada, como esta el viaje…”

If you speak Spanish, you probably know exactly what my host mother was saying to me from reading the above. However, after 3 semesters of beginning to intermediate level Spanish and a 2 month break without any Spanish practice at all, I was completely caught off guard by this string of unknown words and phrases.

If you add on top of that the fact that my host mom was using Chilenismos (a.k.a. words that Chileans made up to confuse any visitors that don’t speak Chilean Spanish) and speaking with a Chilean accent (a.k.a. fast and mumbly), I really didn’t have a chance. I just stared for a few minutes before she realized exactly how bad my knowledge of the Spanish language was. From there, she began to speak slower and explain more of the words I didn’t understand. It helped that I had three wonderful host siblings, one with a ton of English knowledge, to help me along when I just couldn’t figure the language out.

Advice for those traveling to countries with a foreign language:

  1. Practice the language before you leave. Even if you’re not in a language class, you need to be practicing how to speak the language and reviewing the more common words and phrases that you know you will come across more. I wish that I had practiced more before I left, because I know I would have been more comfortable practicing there as a result.
  2. Look into local dialects and slang. Chileans are notorious (little did I know before arriving) for their Chilenismos. The ‘S’ disappears from the ends of words, never to be seen again. If you’re taking a nap, you’re not “tomando una siesta” or “durmiendo,“ you’re “teniendo un tuto.”
  3. Try even when you’re unsure of yourself. Towards the middle of my trip, I realized my host mom could usually decipher what I was trying to say even if I didn’t really have all of the words or verb tenses right. The best thing about having a conversation with her- she would correct what I had said wrong! I realized that the people you’re around as a student studying abroad are all there to help you. Whether it was a friend, professor, or my wonderful family, everyone was really helpful to fix my faulty Spanish and to listen to me struggle through telling a story in order to help me to improve.

Although my Spanish was nowhere near fluent (at arrival or departure), it was easier than I had expected to get by, one badly constructed sentence at a time. In the end, my Spanish definitely improved and I am way more confident in my language skills now than before. Even if you’re at a very elementary level (which I was), you have to step out of your comfort zone to move on to the next level, whether that’s simple competency or advanced fluency. ¡Buena Suerte!

Learn Something New Every Year

I think this is such a valuable piece of advice. When you’re in school this is easy, because you’re constantly learning new things, but once you graduate I feel like it gets a little bit harder. I think it’s so smart to commit yourself to learning one new thing every year, so here’s a list of some options for you to get started:

Bartending. I’m doing this right now actually. I bought a groupon for an online bartending class. This is a skill that is totally transferable I think. After class number one, I now know how to cut lemon wedges so that’s worth $20 bucks for an online certificate in my book. Plus I heard the tips were really good.

Knitting. Been there done that. I matured (into a 50 year old woman apparently) at a very young age. I’m bad at this but some find it relaxing.

Yoga. I’ve been trying this a little bit this year but I plan on putting a lot more effort in it in 2k15 (getting my New Year’s Resolutions started already, ayooo). This is also supposed to be super relaxing. Plus there’s so much history to learn about here as well. Look into it maybe.

Learn a Language. I’ve been trying this one out for a few years now. But this is more of an ongoing process for me. One really cool app that can help you get started on a language is called duolingo. It’s free and it’s kind of like a game in that they make you play little learning games to improve your foreign language skills. Definitely worth looking into.

Gardening. I think this is more for when you retire and have time for the nurturing and responsibility raising a family of plants calls for. You can even make it a veggie garden and cut back on costs at the grocery store! How rewarding! *(This only applies if vegetables are your thing. They’re not my thing. So neither will gardening ever be.)*

Instruments. Take a lesson or two. If you’re a little short on money, a lot of people on Youtube like to pretend like they’re good at instruments. Find the ones that are actually good and try to learn from them.

Art. If you read my last post then you already know my stance on poetry. However, try to find a new way to express yourself this year! Maybe that’s drawing, or painting, or photography, or calligraphy… or even poetry. There are so many things to explore under this point. But you’ve got a lot of years so that’s okay.

Cooking. Which is really just another form of art honestly. Cooking is a good way to pick up a future mate, a good way to feed yourself, a good way to learn about other cultures, etc. You can’t really go wrong here. I haven’t gotten to this one yet but I’m in college so it’s probably not important until I can afford resources other than a microwave and a box of easy mac.

Budgeting. This is something I’m working on too. I got as far as making an excel spreadsheet to track my spending. I haven’t gotten as far as to actually limit what I’m spending under each category every month. So that’s a work in progress.

There are only 9 on my list but there are PLENTY of other things out there you can improve your skills on (public speaking, driving [IOWA DRIVERS I'm lookin' at 98% of you], writing) or learn for the very first time (self defense, tennis, long division). If you commit yourself to one a year, think of how much better and well rounded you will be as a human, as well as more confident in yourself and your new found skills.

Good luck have fun!


Poetry is not actually art.

It looks like it could be art.

It’s not.

^^Did you know that could be considered poetry. Like prose I think but I could call that poetry. Last night I went to PFG CFGC’s event with international writers held downtown at the Des Moines social club (which is the coolest place). My Spanish professor promoted it to our class because there was a Cuban writer performing.

So by performing that means poets go up and either do or don’t explain a little bit about their poem (generally didn’t make a difference for me, I was very confused) and then read us the poem. Which is basically random words put together in a way that makes sense to the poet and no one else. The Cuban writer was the most interesting. His poems were more like songs, with one of those square drums you sit on to use. (Like a beat box? That might be what they’re called?) Songs are the only kind of poetry that make sense. Art is supposed to be beautiful in some type of way, and some of the poems they read didn’t even make sense to me so how am I supposed to find beauty in that? If there’s music involved it’s much easier to see. For me at least.

The only other interesting woman told like short stories that didn’t make a ton of sense but they were funny. Which I consider humor a kind of beauty, it makes you happy the same way I think. The other people I just couldn’t get on board with. I think it’s better that I figured out before rather than later how I feel about poetry though. That way I can avoid future poetry readings. Never again.

It’s fun in college to figure out what you do and don’t like. Most things go on my like list. This one didn’t make the cut, but that’s okay.

Sorry if you’re reading this and you’re a poet, I think everyone just has a different way of expressing themselves, and if that’s how you get it done then more power to you.


Parents Weekend is Nice

So parent’s weekend is nice for me. I put off seeing my family until this weekend most years just so I can feel more independent, but then I give in because everyone else on campus is doing the same. Nice.

This year, Kappa Klassic falls during parents weekend, which is really nice also. I get to play golf with my dad (bright&early) tomorrow morning, as well as work with my sisters to raise money for a good cause (http://www.childrenscancerconnection.org/). Hopefully I can get a little better at golf while I’m at it. Apparently you’re supposed to know how to do golf, being in the business world and everything.

Tonight I get see BOTH of my beautiful sisters and their families, as well as my amazing mother (who is cooking for us, excuse me while I wipe the drool from my mouth). Home cooking is nice. Home cooked dessert is even nicer.

Parents weekend two years ago, we went to the football game. I have been to one football game since then (sorry DU football team, that’s not nice of me, I’ll do better.)

IMG_3008Picture circa 2012

Other things on my plate for this weekend – catering Saturday night (which means another free meal which is 1)______ (fill in the blank, answer listed below)), volunteering for CCC’s flapjack 5k on Sunday morning (handing out water cups is much nicer than struggling through a 5k I think), playing for Kappa’s intramural soccer team on Sunday afternoon (will be nice when we WIN), and then working another dinner on Sunday night (that’s free meal number 3, this is how you know I’m a junior a.k.a. experienced college kid). Nice right?


ǝɔıu (⇂ :sɹǝʍsuɐ

The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship

“The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too” < that is really what I think of every time I hear the name in the title of this post.

Although it’s a mouthful, I never understood before this past week what exactly this wordy organization did on campus. When asked what they had accomplished here, I responded that they sponsored a lot of really cool speakers and panels with global perspectives. As an international business major, I learned a lot from attending these events, and was thankful for the opportunities the PFG CfGC had put forth on our campus.

But then, it was brought to my attention that this center actually did a whole lot more than just hire speakers for the student body. And that I was silly for thinking a powerhouse company would start an organization that was simply a speaker’s guild.

Speakers and On Campus Events. While this isn’t all they do, it is something important that they have been a part of the past 3 years at Drake. One of the most memorable for myself was the panel of Islamic finance experts. I had no idea the rules and regulations that went along with this growing financial sector. You can read more about that event here: http://molliewheelerdrake.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/islamic-finance/.

2 The Global and Comparative Public Health Concentration. The center introduced an entire new curriculum dedicated to making Drake students more globally oriented. While they have International Business and International Relations majors, the health sciences didn’t really have anywhere they could focus on global issues. Until now of course. Along with that, the center has worked to develop new classes in other colleges of the university that focus more on globalization.

3 Faculty Development. The center has worked to develop more internationally minded faculty as well as students. They have done this by sponsoring faculty led trips abroad, as well as promoting new ideas for curriculum with global aspects.

4 Global Ambassador Program. This program offers students to complement their major area of study with additional classes and extra curricular activities with global focuses. This includes 50 hours of volunteer work, which in turn gives back to our Des Moines community.

You can read more about the PFG CfGC on Drake’s website at http://www.drake.edu/cgc/aboutcgc/. The center has done so much for our university, and deserves a huge amount of recognition. I know that my undergraduate experience would not be as internationally enlightened without their involvement at Drake.

Secrets to Success (you’re welcome)

Here are a few tips to succeeding in college.

1. Write it down. A very wise friend of mine once said, “The biggest lie you can tell yourself is: I don’t need to write this down. I’ll remember it.” I don’t care if you know pi to 1000 places, write your assignments down. Not only has writing things down been proven to commit that better to your memory, but even the smartest people forget things once in a while. Exercise some common sense and utilize your planner.

2. Rest. Another wise mentor of mine, my father, gave me some very good advice when I entered college: “get some sleep.” I’m paraphrasing there. He said he understood that college sometimes meant late night study sessions and early morning classes, but to make sure to fit in a few naps and take your sleep seriously. Well rested means better focus and more energy.

3. Go to class. Even if your professor says he doesn’t take attendance. Even if the powerpoints are all online. I know I learn better from hearing something. But this means that if you are going to class, you have to pay attention. That means get off facebook and tune in. Do you realize how much you (or your parents) pay for these classes and this education? You’ll do better in your classes if you go to class, take notes, and pay attention. Period.

4. Get to know your professors. They’re kind of smart. Also very influential in your grade at the end of the semester. Beyond that- professors are usually actually pretty funny. And always helpful when you’re struggling.

5. Get involved. Getting involved in organizations also can lead to future successes. I know that in being a part of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a social sorority here at Drake, I’m held accountable to my sisters and my house to do well in school. On top of that, being involved in this organization leads to so many connections: people to do homework with, people to advise me on which professors to take, people to let me know about job and internship opportunities… If sororities aren’t your thing, these kind of benefits come from many organizations! Professional fraternities, academic clubs, etc, all keep you accountable and help when you need support.

Those are just five little tips from me to you. I’m sure you’ve heard them all before, but if you’re struggling with classes this semester, or confused on how to make the transition from high school to college classes, try incorporating some of these things and watch as your grade increases and your life gets better. You’re welcome.