“Studying abroad will change your life! Make sure to have fun and make lots of memories!” If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me, I would probably have enough to pay for my flight. Ok… that may not be entirely true but the emphasis is still there! As I sit here reflecting on this ever-present cliché, thinking in disbelief about how my flight is next week and I have yet to start packing, I can 100% say that I’m pretty nervous.
Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad. If I could go back in time and tell high school me that I would be leaving for Madrid in a few days, I would be over the moon. I’ve always been fascinated by the Spanish language and the opportunity to utilize it outside of the classroom was one of my driving decisions to choose Madrid. Now that it’s becoming more real and apparent that starting next week, I will be living in Madrid for the next 4 months, my anxiety is definitely on the rise.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to be abroad for an entire semester! I am excited to try tapas, improve my Spanish, meet new people, and so many other parts of the abroad experience. Still, though, the fear and that tiny voice in the back of your head that’s constantly questioning “what if [this] happens or what if [that] happens,” are always going to be there. After all, being in a new country without any of your friends and family can seem like a scary experience.
For me, I think this idea of fear and anxiety comes from the fact that this experience will be a lot of firsts. It’ll be my first time living in a country whose primary language isn’t English and it’ll be my first time living in a major city instead of the suburbs of one (if you know, you know). Honestly, I’m mostly nervous about learning how to incorporate public transportation into my daily life and learning how to balance my time while abroad. After all, I go to a school where I was on a full-meal plan and the closest thing I took for “public transportation” between classes was a 10-minute, one-stop bus ride. Nevertheless, within this fear of the new, I am excited for the possibilities.
A wise person once told me, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing scared.” I never realized how relevant that comment was until now. Even though I’m scared, I try to remember why I chose to study abroad. To experience something new. As cliché as it may sound, stepping out of one’s comfort zone is how we grow and we cannot expect ourselves to do this if we remain where we are forever. It’s ok to be scared, and it’s ok to not know what happens next. I honestly don’t think those feelings disappear. However, it’s also important to remember that there are experiences, memories, and possibilities that await us. My hope for studying abroad is that it will be a genuine opportunity to explore a different part of the world, meet new people, and discover more about myself as well. Clichés may be repetitive, but they hold truth to them.
As I’m frantically finalizing the last minute details of my flight, writing this blog post, and (starting the process of) packing, I’m excited and grateful for this opportunity! Thank you to IES Abroad for allowing me to document my experiences and I hope to show you all my honest and authentic opinions on what studying abroad is like! Hasta pronto and see you from Madrid! :)
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My name is Jacob and I am a current junior at Haverford College. I love all things related to learning about different cultures whether it be food, language, customs, etc. In my free time, you can typically find me playing video games, listening to music, or just spending time with friends!