Spain Ahead: Nervousness, Excitement, and Being Abroad

Dan Nguyen
May 15, 2018
Spain Ahead: Nervousness, Excitement, and Being Abroad

As my dad’s car passed through the early city lights on the way to my flight to Madrid, I pressed my face against the glass window like a puppy longing for home. Just five days ago, I was on the other side of the freeway heading home from the airport, babbling to my dad about finals and college life while inquiring how he can comprehend both Google map directions and where I was going with my life. Today, I’m leaving again; and this time, instead of just going to college, I am taking on a lifetime opportunity that would be out of my grasp a year ago. I’m going to Spain with two semesters worth of Spanish in my pocket. To avoid awkward silence, I have already prepared what to say if anyone in Spain asks me “¿Que tal?” I would quickly reply: “Estoy nerviosa pero estoy emocionada.”

I’m excited to see Plaza Mayor’s medieval architecture, Madrileños’ way of life, and street tapas that was only showed in my Spanish’s textbook chapter about food. It’s an amazing opportunity that you get to learn about lives beyond yours, but it’s an incredible feeling to see what you have learned in real life. Spain will be another world waiting for my discovery, where I can get lost while learning about myself and the people around me, being nervous and excited at the same time.

Looking out the passenger seat window, I stumbled upon the familiar sight of San Jose streets. A sense of longing and unsteadiness divulged itself as I think about the adventure ahead of me and what I’m leaving behind. I spent five years memorizing these streets, familiarized myself with the pattern of traffic at intersections, and counted the days that I will get to leave for college. The predictable stability and flickering sense of adventure that never seems to coalesce somehow become perfectly intertwined as I paved my own college journey. Life at home juxtaposes profoundly against the life ahead of me, and the uncertainty of my quest sometimes make me question a lot of decision. Yet at the end of the day, I always end up running into the most exciting and rewarding adventures. Just like college, but even better, being abroad means more than just learning a language and its people, it means acquainting oneself with unpredictability and understanding lives beyond that of oneself.  

Even though I am nervous about leaving home so soon, I couldn’t wait to share my plans for Spain with my friends. Study abroad has always been our dream, and it’s incredible that it now comes true for us. “How are you going to talk to people?”, my best friend asked as she tried to fathom how I will survive and thrive in Spain. I smiled, knowing that I’m not going abroad to how to talk to people there, I’m going abroad to experience the different ways I can get to know people, whether through understanding their language, culture, or simply their streets. To me, getting to know people isn’t the same as talking to them because it can be done in many more ways and with more flexibility. Maybe, after all, excitement fervently ensconces itself over the nebulous cloud of nervousness, so that it doesn’t matter what is ahead of me, I’m guaranteed amazing tapas in Spain.


Dan Nguyen

<p>Dan is the first year at Yale. There is something about the invisible forces control human behavior and make up their knowledge that pokes her curiosity. Don’t get her wrong; she isn’t learning how to mind-control others, but rather to combine knowledge about people’s product preferences and spending patterns to contribute to the field of behavioral economics. When she isn’t listening to podcasts and multitasking, Dan loves to run in her neighborhood and bake for her floormates.&nbsp;</p>

2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
Home University:
Yale University
San Jose, CA
Cognitive Science
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