STORY BY NATALIE LARIMER
Studying abroad is a common feature of an education at Drake, but much of Drake’s foreign exchange program is about welcoming students from other countries.
One of those students, Rita Alvarez Tudela, was an exchange student from the Universidad de Nebrija in Madrid, Spain and studied at Drake’s school of journalism from 2006-07.
Since spending time at Drake, she has become a world-traveling photojournalist working for many different news agencies.
She returned to campus last Friday to say hello to old professors and friends of hers, taking breaks to explore campus with an old Pentax film camera. She was in town as the official photographer for a wedding of two of her Drake friends.
“I was here for a year, and it was very important for me as a journalist because of how different it was from Spain in terms of the classes,” Tudela said. “There were a lot of technology inputs I was not used to, like direct contact with computers that you have here but we don’t have in our classes in Spain.”
She made note of how helpful the staff was, especially at the beginning of her stay, due to the fact that her English was not perfect.
Tudela made the most of her year at Drake, including studying abroad during a May-term trip in China and working for the Times-Delphic.
“I met Rita immediately after she arrived at Drake because her luggage was lost and I don’t think it was ever found,” Director of International Services Gretchen Beckley said. “But from that low point her story gets better and better. Before I knew it, I was seeing her byline on articles in the Times-Delphic, and by the time she left, she was studying abroad in China.”
She went on a May-term trip for six weeks and fell in love with the country.
“It made me understand the world better and I ended up working in China for six years after that,” Tudela said.
After leaving Drake, Tudela got a scholarship from a journalism news agency that gave her the opportunity to work as a political journalist in Madrid for a year, followed by a year in China as a correspondent.
“After that, I decided to stay longer in China because I think that one year is too little to cover a whole country that is so different,” Tudela said. “Politics, religion, environment, there were many issues that I was not aware of.”
While in Asia, she traveled to many countries, including North Korea and Japan, covering the news for different agencies.
After her six-year stay in China, she moved to London and continued in photojournalism. She will graduate next month.
“It’s always a thrill to have international students like Rita come back for a visit and to hear the impact their time at Drake is having on them and on the world,” Beckley said.