API study abroad alum becomes entrepreneur

My Study Abroad Experience: Vacation? Dream? or Entrepreneurial Inspiration?

By Amanda Legge, student on the API Granada Hispanic Studies Program, Fall 2009

There I was, sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car with my luggage loaded in the trunk, on the way to the San Francisco airport. For the past few weeks, people had been asking me if I was nervous about my upcoming studying abroad trip in Granada, Spain. I had to confess that I was not even the slightest bit nervous. I was doing the API program with five of my best friends from college, so, in my mind, this was more like a long vacation than a “study abroad experience.” But all of a sudden, as we drove into the airport parking lot, my stomach dropped.

“Sh*t,” I thought to myself, my heart beating at least four times a second. “Am I really doing this?” With my mom by my side, I rolled my two suitcases into the international terminal.

My second thoughts about the trip immediately disappeared when I saw my friend Anjani standing around the corner with her family. As soon as I saw her, I remembered that this was a ‘fun’ study abroad experience, not the scary, nerve-racking one that most other people do, and my heart rate returned to normal.

Fast-forward to the end of our trip:

There we were again at the airport, this time in Málaga, sitting on the white tile floor, waiting for our flight back to California to be posted on the screen so that we could check-in. Leaning against a wall and exhausted, I sipped on the expensive fresh-squeezed orange juice I had treated myself to for waking up so early to get the airport. My friend Andrea was frantically filling out the eleven postcards she had bought to send to all of her best friends from home while everyone else nodded off. She suddenly jumped up with the finished postcards in hand, letting her pen slide off to the floor.

“Sellos? Sellos?” she aggressively asked everyone passing by, trying to find a place where she could buy her last-minute stamps. Not wanting her to wander around the airport alone, I got up to help her. Finally, an older woman pointed to a stand.

“Once sellos a los Estados Unidos, por favor,” she said, all in one breath. The man behind the counter pulled out eleven stamps, each worth 90 Euro-cents. I couldn’t believe it! Almost 10 Euros just to send a few postcards?? Andrea shoved the 10 Euro bill in his hand. By the time he grabbed her 10 cents worth of change from the cash register, Andrea had already placed the postage stamps in the upper right hand corner of each postcard and they were ready to be sent.

Andrea slid the postcards into the small mail slit to the right of the stand – and just in time. When we glanced back at our friends, they had already organized our suitcases in order of owner and were waving us over to check-in.

Me and my UCSD/API friends

Fast-forward past the long flight:

My mom turned the gold key and opened the front door to our house. Stepping into my house for the first time in three months felt completely normal. The only change in the house was the vase of flowers my mom had put on the desk in my room as a ‘welcome home’ gesture. Exhausted, I put my suitcases aside and fell into my feathered comforter.

If it hadn’t been for the still unpacked suitcases in my room when I woke up, I would have thought the whole thing had been a dream: the excursions to other cities in Spain; struggling to understand the ‘Th’panish accent; the many countries we visited; the ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner at a Mexican restaurant with my new API family; the two tangerines I ate for dessert after meals in my dorm kitchen; dancing in the ‘discoteca’ clubs until sunrise; the ‘bocadilla’ sandwiches the cooks made me whenever I went on a trip; Sunday night ‘tapa’ dinners; mid-day ‘siesta’ naps; the extreme hunger before 2pm lunch; the Spanish friends I made…

Fast-forward to two years later:

I was once again on a plane back to Spain to visit a very close friend of mine from the dorm. About half way into the ride and some 30,000 feet in the air, I started thinking about all of the people that I wanted to send postcards to while I was in Spain and Switzerland (where I would be going next.) That’s when the idea hit me: a sort of postcard ‘explosion.’ Instead of paying for the international postage on each postcard like my friend Andrea had done two years earlier, you could put all of the postcards in one envelope and send them to the United States together, where they would ‘explode’ to their final destinations using cheaper U.S. postage!

Me and Fernando - founders of Pre-Postcard

This idea formed the basis of the company that my boyfriend and I just started together: Pre-Postcard. Get it? It’s supposed to be a play-on-words with ‘pre’ and ‘post.’ (Luckily I thought of a better name for the company than ‘Postcard Explosion!’)

 

If you’re planning on sending postcards while traveling or studying abroad, you should check out our company website at www.prepostcard.com to calculate how much money you can save on your postage!

Fast-forward to now:

My study abroad experience with API, though it seemed more like a vacation at the time and seems more like a dream now, changed my life forever. I made new life-long friends, experienced a different culture, and even gained the spark of inspiration to start my own international company! Not to mention that I can’t get enough of living abroad and learning new cultures now. I have already submitted my application to teach English in Spain beginning at the end of this year with hopes of repeating the API experience!

 

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