You are here

Life in the Graveyard of Ambition

December 4, 2017

Studying abroad means you are away from your home campus, away from your usual routine, and often away from the intensity of university life. Certain levels of stress can be a good thing, providing an impetus for focus and discipline. It can help you get to the gym, do your homework on time, and apply for summer internships.

But what happens when you feel like you have one foot in school and the other foot in vacationland?

This has been a common previously unthought-of trap among many of my friends in our program in Granada, Spain. At most of our universities back home, life always feels busy and intense — a race to outrun your own tiredness. Here under the always-sunny skies and near the beach and the ski resorts, it’s easy to get lost in the slow pace of life. It’s easy to slip out of your routine and become lazy, showing up late to class, forgetting to do homework and papers.

Internships for next summer? That’s eons away. Homework for Friday? It can wait.

Over the last two months, I’ve found that I’m quite good at slipping into laziness. I thought of myself as generally driven and focused, preferring more to be structured than not. But here in Spain, I’ve found another part of myself that I didn’t know existed. Many of my friends expressed the same feeling.

At an Irish neighborhood pub, a group of friends and I were talking with the bartender Paddy. We explained our surprise at how slow we had become. He laughed, replying, “Don’t you worry. Granada is known as the graveyard of ambition for a reason.”

Indeed, it can be a challenge to stay focused the way you normally would at school. But like my host mother once told me, “You’re in Spain, not in the United States. There are just some things you have to do here.” And one of those is to take life more slowly. To be more patient. Don’t rush to the next activity. Coming up with a routine has helped me keep my discipline, but I’ve found there are just less things to do on a daily basis. Give yourself the space and the grace to fool around and have fun, but also take care of yourself and do your work well. There’s a balance to be maintained, and while maintaining the equilibrium can be tricky, it’s an important skill to learn.

From Our Blogs

Aug 17 11:20am

My (Probably Incomplete) Black Girl Guide to Packing for Amsterdam

by Taara

I'm not packed for Amsterdam yet. BUT when I am packed, these are the things I will bring with me.

Learn more
Aug 16 11:51pm

Home is Where the Coffee is

by Maddie

I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’m a coffee fanatic. I love having a go-to coffee shop that is my ‘comfort place’ to grab a reliable cup of—not Dunkin Donuts watered-down— coffee.

Learn more
Aug 16 11:55am

Education & Health Care to Transform Lives: Thoughts on Global Citizenship from Sydni Williams

by IES Abroad

For many, Spain is a destination. For Global Citizen of the Year, Sydni Williams, it was a launch pad.

Learn more
Aug 14 5:28pm

Peanut Butter and Delayed Flights

by Makai

Right now, I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my 5am flight to New York.

Learn more
Aug 14 2:02pm

Student Voices - A Song Inspired By a Year Studying Abroad in Morocco

by IES Abroad

For singer-song writer Philip Baites studying abroad not only increased his French and Arabic abilities, but also gave him the inspiration for his first single “Tangier to Casablanca.”

Learn more
Aug 14 1:31pm

Opening Eyes to the World

by Joshua

Guten Tag!  

Learn more