Bye Emily have fun in Australia!
Have a safe flight to Germany Meg, tschüss!
Vi ses, enjoy Denmark Kiersten!
One after another I had to send my farewells to friends also pursuing an education abroad this semester. I was incredibly excited for them to start their journey overseas, reassuring that no, the rain won’t delay your flight and don’t worry, they won’t forget you at the airport. Now sitting at home, witnessing move-in day back at Gettysburg College through various social media platforms, I couldn’t help but become a little restless as I await my departure date set at a week from now.
When I tell people about my plans to spend a semester in Salamanca, Spain, its usually followed by Are you excited? which I immediately answer with a resounding yes. They continue to ask Are you nervous? and this is where I take a pause. Some students are somewhat apprehensive leaving the country for an extended period of time. After all, they are relinquishing the comforts of familiar faces, routines and surroundings once they board that plane. However, to be completely honest the only aspect of my trip that I am worried about is the number of pairs of shoes I have to leave behind (*cue eye rolls from my roommates*).
I’ve always had a love for traveling. While some people are nervous about immersing themselves in a completely new way of life, I almost crave it. We often subject ourselves to the same routine everyday. Although the ordinary is comfortable and sometimes necessary, there are times in which we should place ourselves in a different context. By entering a new environment, you are de-familiarizing the day to day routine. This in turn sparks wonderment and curiosity, opening not only your mind but your ability to learn. You are forced to be present because you don’t have the prior knowledge or experience to slip into autopilot. There is just something so invigorating about abandoning any preconceived notions you have at the start of your journey and allowing yourself to be receptive to all of the experiences a country can provide.
Now at this point you may believe my expectations are idealized. However make no mistake, I am not naïve to the difficult situations that are sure to arise. There will be the minor adjustments such as not wearing athletic attire when not actually working out, not having access to free WiFi everywhere you go and taking a full course load taught in Spanish. Oh! Also waiting until 9 or 10pm to eat dinner (my stomach is complaining already). But from time to time I will encounter bigger challenges as well. Although I can’t predict what they will be exactly, I do know they will test my intercultural competence and strength as an individual. The way I handle difficult situations carries the potential to define my time abroad. My hope is to come away with not only learned knowledge from the experience, but also new found insight about myself.
Through this blog I aim to share my story. From the blissful highs to the uncomfortable lows and everything in between, I hope to relay useful information for future travelers and provide my perspective on life as an IES Abroad student. The flight is booked, forms are submitted, visa is here, bank is notified and courses are preapproved. All I have left to do is pack. I can’t wait to be in my new home in Salamanca.
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<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt"><span style="color:#404040">My name is Isabel but unless you’re either my mom, dad or nurse calling me in from the waiting room, I go by Izzie. I am a rising junior at Gettysburg College pursuing a major in the Health Sciences with a minor in Spanish. I have traveled outside of the US before (namely the Philippines where a lot of extended family reside) however, visiting a country for vacation and being totally immersed in it are two completely different experiences and I can’t wait for this new adventure in Spain.</span><span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:"Times",serif"> </span></span></span></p>