Please, if I may take a moment to insight some wisdom upon you? If you ever get a chance to study abroad, even for a short time, I beg you to do so. Studying abroad has been the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
When you first get to a new place there is a ton a fear in your heart. “Did I make the right choice coming here?” “Am I going to adjust well?” “What if I can’t do this?” However, you have to throw all of those thoughts out the window and jump into the situation. Not only do you have to face your fears when first arrive in the new place but you often have to face those fears alone. Your fear can be a completely rational fear about getting lost or it can be an off the cuff childhood fear you run into on a daily basis. Some people have a fear of getting lost, others have a fear of spiders or ladybugs, and sometimes you are terrified of pigeons. But as long as you have your friends there to comfort you, you can face any terrifying bird that comes your way.
The cities will try to break you down and sometimes they might succeed but all you have to do is try to learn from the city. When you get to a new country you learn to adapt quickly and in unique ways. Necessity breeds creativity. When you are hungry on the streets of Spain and your Tortilla Española is cold you find ways to heat it up that might not necessarily be conventional. Most restaurants in Spain in the winter have heat lamps to keep costumers warm. Well when you’re hungry they start looking like hanging microwaves. They will heat up your sandwich in no time.
The weather is not going to be your friend most of the time and you will learn to resent the cold and rainy
weather conditions. That part I mentioned earlier about a city breaking you and learning to adapt this was mostly targeted at the cold rain I encountered on so many occasions. This may involve turning you backpack cover into a rain jacket and looking like a turtle just to keep the pouring cold rain off the back of your neck. Not only does the weather turn on you the tide can also turn just as quick. If you are traveling to the ocean be prepared for cold water. Be prepared for water that comes crashing down on you right as you are about to enjoy the most beautiful sunset on the beach in Barcelona. A beautiful moment can go from “Wow look at the beautiful wave” to “Quick! Run!” really suddenly.
But you’ll get used to the water on your feet and go back to the crashing waves for more excitement.
The trains and Metros will be your best friend! Their quickness and the easiness of the public transportation in Spain made traveling a breeze. Even when things didn’t quite go as planned and one of your friends decides to get lost. I wholeheartedly believe there are some people in your life who you are meant to find. Like referring back to when one of your friends gets off on the wrong Metro stop and gets lost in a completely different town yet you still find each other on the same Metro car on your way to the Royal Palace of Madrid. Trains are not only your meeting point for friends it can also be your bed for when you just get off an eight hour over night bus back from Barcelona and you need a power nap before classes.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions that ranged from overwhelming joy to heartbreaking struggles that seemed to break my spirit. The journey is long and at times agonizing but if you choose to surround yourself with the right friends, even if you have never met them before this, they will quickly turn into your family. I can honestly say that if I was not here with the group I was put into I would not have survived. I needed their sarcastic comments and their ability to bring us all together in times when we were cold, wet, and worn out. Studying abroad is a lot like fighting with windmills. It feels impossible at the start of your journey that you will ever make it to the end. Its a lot like climbing a mountain. The journey to the top is long and difficult and you often feel like giving up but once you get to the top and look down at what you’ve accomplished there is no better feeling in the world.