You are here

Life in the Graveyard of Ambition

4 Dec 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

Feb 20 7:44am

How to Experience Barcelona as a Local

by Caroline Meza

How living as a local rather than a tourist has changed my experience and how to do it!

Learn more
Feb 19 5:47am

A Bean-throwing Day To Keep The Demons Away

by Payton

Sestubun is a widely celebrated event in Japan filled with beans and demons to prepare for the coming of spring! Find out how I spent this day with my host family.

Learn more
Feb 15 10:05am

Study Abroad Packing List for the Career-Minded Student

by Abby Baric

Add the following items to your suitcase before you study abroad to take full advantage of opportunities that come your way to advance your career.

Learn more
Feb 14 2:34pm

How to Practice Self-Care While Studying Abroad

by Victoria Bruick

We asked our IES Abroad Ambassadors what advice they have for self-care while abroad. Find out what they suggest and take time to figure out what loving yourself looks like for you.

Learn more
Feb 13 5:24pm

My Language Learning Tips

by Chen Yu

My semester in Morocco started with the intensive Darija (Moroccan Arabic) course.

Learn more
Feb 13 4:41pm

Alumni Advice: Being in a Relationship While Studying Abroad

by Victoria Bruick

Does “distance makes the heart grow fonder” or is it more accurate to say “out of sight, out of mind”? We asked our IES Abroad Ambassadors to share their advice on being in a relationship while studying abroad.

Learn more