Leaning into Discomfort

Camille Swinson
September 4, 2015

Greetings from flight SK-0926 to Copenhagen, Denmark (for my layover)!

I am so excited to be on my way to Granada, Spain to study abroad! I have waited so long for this moment, and I know that I'm embarking on an amazing and life-changing adventure (my excitement makes me sound like a Disney movie, I know). I have already learned a great deal by preparing for this trip, and a recent incident taught me an especially valuable lesson that I know is imperative when mapping parts of my trip.

A few days ago, my mother was helping me practice my driving (yep, I'm a college junior without a driver's license, don't judge). As I made my way behind a car at a red- light intersection, my mother commanded, “Put the brake on! You need to put the brake on!” Simply put, I panicked. I accidentally pressed on the accelerator instead of the brake, and you guessed it...boom.

Needless to say, my mother has restricted me to practicing my driving in vacant parking lots until I gain better footing with my driving. Luckily, however, the fender bender only caused a minor scratch to my mother's car and even far less damage to the car I hit.

This experience certainly helped me learn an important lesson that I can apply while studying abroad: many times, the best teachers in life are experiences. Moments like these allow us to gain unique insight that we cannot always receive from reference guides. We can pinpoint exactly where we have made mistakes and discover possible solutions. Despite having studied the following distance and braking portions of the driver's manual multiple times, the scary experience set the concept in stone.

Similarly, while studying abroad, we encounter new environments, with different traditions and customs, and culture shock can be inevitable. This nervous feeling arises once we exit a familiar culture and enter a foreign one to which we cannot easily adapt. However, by viewing mistakes positively, as potential opportunities for growth, they may begin to feel less daunting. Improving this ability to try new things can allow us to better make the most of our journeys abroad.

While in Spain, I hope to lean into each of the mistakes that I make, embracing each of these challenges and their solutions.

I can hardly believe this is happening!

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Camille Swinson

<p>Camille Zoe Swinson is a junior International Studies major/Spanish minor at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. When she is not watching Netflix, you can find Camille practicing her Spanish, researching or discussing global human rights issues and feminism, reading, or modern dancing. The Washington DC native and aspiring diplomat also participates in Model United Nations and the Student Ambassador program on her campus. Camille is excited to explore and get lost in the cobblestone paths and ruins of Granada, absorb its beautiful culture, and make new friends.</p>

2015 Fall
Home University:
Spelman College
Interdisciplinary Studies
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