I return from my trip to Spain different than when I left. I heard over and over how amazing of an experience study abroad would be, how I would make some of the best friends I would ever have, and how I would create memories that last a lifetime. I was skeptical at first–how could every single person have such a wonderful time without at least one complaint? I was skeptical during the trip as well. Sure, I was abroad. But I was living my life exactly how I would have if I were at home, right? Wrong. It would take me until now, a week after my return, to realize that.
Overseas, I did a lot of things for the first time. I lived outside of my parent’s house for the first time. I used a metro system for the first time. I didn’t work a part-time job while taking classes for the first time. I ran a 10k! I did all these things without the stress of what comes along with them. I didn’t have to worry about making rent–I had scholarships for that. I didn’t have to worry about paying for gas–I had the metro. I didn’t have to worry about balancing school, work, and social life–I only had two out of three anyway. I could focus on having fun and splurging on Zara and the midterm coming up instead of rent and bills and the other stresses of “real life.”
And I learned so many lessons abroad. I opened my mind and let the things around me influence my thinking processes, my judgments, my take on the world around me. It was like my trip was a miniature lifetime–I was born in Spain, I became comfortable and grew up in Spain, I went to college in Spain. I was able to experience “real life” in this utopian, stress-free environment. I went through hard times, but I also went through elation; there was so much good to out-way the bad that all-in-all I would rave to the next freshman class about how study abroad is one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
I even hope to be able to tell my take on the trip to others who are interested. I want to sit them down, take their hands in mine, and say “do it.” I overcame hesitancies about money, living alone, and faith in order to make this experience real. And I would love to be able to ease the minds of others with the same hesitancies.
My intention of this post was not to be vague, but to talk about a bit of the overlying themes and changes I saw in myself throughout my study abroad experience. I’m still me, but I feel wiser.
I am so glad I did this.