Either someone is pulling a prank on me or I need to debunk an abroad myth. The myth has to do with a topic I haven’t emphasized much in my blog: academics. I’ll be honest: along with the rest of the study abroad population, I expected classes to be cake. Every abroad alumnus I’ve talked to has assured me that abroad classes are notorious for being easy so that you have time to travel and enjoy your surrounding culture. I heard that you might have finals, but don’t expect many papers, and definitely don’t expect to be overloaded with work all at once. Especially coming from an extremely rigorous academic environment back home, classes have taken a backseat to my cultural experience. Now that I have three weeks left in Madrid, all I want to do is explore the places I haven’t yet explored, take pictures of every possible nook and cranny, and live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, with more final assignments than I am used to in English, let alone Spanish, I’m not sure there will be as much time for that as I had expected. With that said, I must acknowledge the fact I had hardly any major assignments during the course of my semester. It all balances out in the end, but this last stretch seems like a lot to handle.
While I would do anything to have less work and more time to spend taking advantage of Madrid, it might be the reality check I need. While I’ve been frolicking around Europe for the past three months, life has persisted in the States. From mid-May until fairly recently, my life has been an extended summer vacation—even the weather in Madrid has stayed warmer longer than I am used to. In light of this, and as one should always do with less-than-ideal circumstances, I have no choice but to be positive! At least I’ll be forced to retain some semblance of work ethic, and my written Spanish is sure to improve immensely over the next few weeks. It might be tough to find time to spend with the city without the stress of final assignments, but I’m up for the challenge.
I’ll conclude this blog entry with this piece of advice for future abroad students: Each and every abroad experience is different. While you can certainly find consistencies in lessons learned and ways in which past travelers have grown, you can count on being hit with unique challenges that you may not have expected. However, should you take on these unexpected challenges with determination and positivity, well, this is where the personal growth part comes in. Trust the process.