I want to start off by saying some changes are afoot. This blog will be focusing on my time abroad in Spain instead of the usual content you have read thus far. It will include doing reviews, giving advice and some mental health posts about Spain, Europe and travel in general. There may also be other topics discussed if I feel they would be beneficial.
I hope to also inspire you to seek adventure and travel more on your own through this blog. With that out of the way… let’s get started.
Thoughts, emotions and expectations
Looking back at conversations I had with friends about abroad — those who had been and those who hadn’t — a majority of them only spoke of the exciting experiences they cultivated or witnessed.
I rarely encountered a conversation discussing the difficulties and negative realities to living in a foreign country. As such, I believe it gives a false connotation to what study abroad really is.
Society sees it as this big European vacation where there’s a trip every weekend, you can drink and nobody gives a shit. While there are some truths to that, there are also some negatives to those positives.
I want to stress that I am in no way dreading this trip. It’s quite the opposite really. I’m ready for some exploration and new experiences.
But my intention is to be real with you about what I’ve been feeling and have experienced thus far in this and more articles to come.
I thought I had left behind that youthful optimism as a freshman–which had only just been swiftly beaten down into submission– but here I am again; a little less youthful but once again optimistic.
The difference this time is I won’t be heading for the cornfields of Iowa but La Plaza de España in Seville, Spain. I’ll be there for an entire semester, thousands of miles away from my family and in a country where English is not the native language. Yup. Pre-departure jitters are a thing.
It was only when my ‘big’, known as a mentor within the sorority world, and her ‘big’ got real with me about abroad that I realized what a growing experience this would be. It won’t be the vacation I was imagining, but perhaps something better. A chance to gain a perspective I’ve never known before.
What is it like to be the odd one out, creating a new home in a foreign country, where the native language is not their native tongue? Even then I still have many more resources and preparations available, people to hold my hand when I need help. I’m not feeling the full force of it all as some do.
Nervous, anxious, excited, anticipatory, weary, unsure, intrigued; they are only some of the emotions I have felt these past weeks.
Sure, I’ve been to Spain before, but the trip was planned from beginning to end with all means of transportation booked and outings organized in advanced. All I had to do was give them the money.
I didn’t have to study at the university there, live with a family I don’t know and navigate a city in a country that I am not a citizen of.
Everything that makes me nervous about this trip is also exhilarating to think about and it’s a bit annoying to be honest. Can’t my brain just pick one emotion and stick with it? Why do I have to have the inner conflict of a protagonist in a Shakespearean tragedy?
However it’s important to look at the positives of traveling abroad (there are many) instead of dwelling on possible circumstances that are out of my control.
Not many people get to say they spent a semester in a foreign country learning and participating in a culture with roots to the roman empire.
That’s one of the downsides of living in the United States. It has history, but our 243-year-old country is a juvenile compared to the countries across the pond.
It’s important for me to learn as much as I can about other cultures and countries. Both in my work as a journalist and as the obligation of being a human being.
Becoming a little more mature and knowledgeable and a little less naive and ignorant would be a more beneficial contribution to the world than staying within my bubble of familiarity.
For me specifically, I have become pretty good at the art of transitioning. Having had to do it multiple times in my life; a new elementary school, middle school, high school, state and then college.
As a result I tend to not be as uncomfortable or shell shocked when life decides to stick me with a hefty dose of change and disorganization when I’m not looking.
However moving to another country for a brief period of time is still stretching that bubble a bit. I mean I’m only human, and we have historically proven we don’t like change.
There’s an association of change with violence shown through events like; the civil rights movement, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and more recently University of Virginia, Charlottesville and Nazi rallies. Knowing what we have learned and even seen with our eyes, we must hold ourselves accountable.
Go study abroad or simply travel and learn about our similarities as humans beings and focus less on our differences. Gaining sympathy, knowledge and wisdom to take with you along the way.
An article by Harvard Business review “Ten reasons People Resist Change” said change makes people feel as though they have lost control. I say the minute you lose control is the minute you settle for complacency.
Be on the look out for my next article “What I packed for Sevilla!” for ideas and solutions to all your packing needs!
Also go and check out my other posts Here!