“91 cappuccinos. Wine corks that probably shouldn’t be counted. 9 weekends spent traveling. 3 private cooking classes. Stories of the 5 senses and 266 popes, all started 14 weeks ago from today,” I tell two cameras larger than my body and the two monotone men controlling them.
Standing in the Vatican TV studio, our class was asked, one by one, to describe our abroad experience in 60 seconds. Our professor Sèan, recommended we think about the balance of what we would say- be prepared, yet not robotic; composed, yet genuine.
The cherry on top of this challenge was when Sean asked us to share of what our audience needed to know, not just what we would like to say.
60 seconds. It’s said to be how long it takes first impressions and judgements to form, and is often the maximum amount of time we have to answer a question. While this seems superficial, it makes sense. In my opinion, it’s partly a result of our tendency to like the ideas of things more than the logistics. “We’ll get coffee!” can go on for months before you actually find yourself sipping espresso in company.
So as much as everyone “can’t wait to hear everything” there’s still a strong chance those stories will need to come in 60 second increments. Luckily, the more I thought about this semester summary, I realized the best experiences don’t have to be told. Gained independence carries itself in my aura, global perspectives are intertwined in intelligent conversations and my favorite stories would make me laugh too hard to effectively communicate.
Sometimes it’s not the pictures you have to show, or the things that can be said.
I also found this through my communications course as I sat behind a Vatican Radio microphone, during another amazing class. While in the studio at the Vatican, Sèan asked questions about our résumés, testing how well we were able to communicate our experiences and sell ourselves.
Elements of any résumé can only tell you so much, that’s the purpose of an interview. In my case, being a yoga instructor intrigued Sèan, and he wanted to know more. I described my passion for helping others, how I am able to represent myself as a brand and how my time on the mat leads to serene problem solving. I was prepared but not robotic, but more importantly I was able to communicate something you wouldn’t find from that one piece of paper.
For my 60 seconds of fame, the anticipation and monologue setting made me a bit more unsettled, and I’m not sure I was as real as the previous Vatican media experience. I have yet to see my Vatican TV video, but regardless of how it turns out, the experience was enough to make up for any embarrassing stutters or awkward body language.
Following the switching red lights of the cameras, I said something along the lines of, “I’ve never done so much in a semester, and had it go so quickly. But really I think it’s because I haven’t truly tried, I don’t think anyone has. Being abroad offers you all these amazing experiences, but they have an expiration date.We’ve seen and done more than so many locals, because for them it’s not going anywhere.”
“Making the most of everyday,” I continued, “is something that can only start once excuses stop, which has made this semester as amazing as it was. It’s also universal, wherever you are, wherever you’re living or studying, explore the world around you. It’s because of this mindset that I can’t recap my study abroad experience in 60 seconds, or reduce it to a number. And for that I am eternally grateful.”
Now that you have the semester in 60 seconds, you have a few weeks to prepare the specific questions. But only if you want truly genuine answers, can handle moments of cackle-induced incoherency, and are able to set a date to add to that infamous wine cork collection.