Study abroad is a balancing act, one that I can attest to. Grades, “trabajos de campo”, social life, language practicing. Many people look at it as a vacation of sorts, but there’s still so much to do!
Question: why do people study abroad? For many possible reasons: to travel, to integrate oneself into another country, to practice a foreign language, to expand a way of life, to travel more easily within a desired region and even to escape the monotony of the American university
(definitely not talking about my home school here).
Through the course of my time in Salamanca (now over two months!!), I have seen in both others and myself the manifestation of reasons to study abroad. For myself, my main priority has been to immerse my life in Salamanca. Of course, I have been able to spend a bit of time traveling (and planning to travel, as we are getting closer and closer to spring break), but something important to me is establishing networks. For me, making friends occurred in two layers. First, I wanted to make friends with fellow Americans. That was relatively easy, since everyone was placed in a similar situation and wanted friends. The next was getting to know international/Spanish friends. This came with language acquisition. Obviously, at times, if you don’t feel completely confident with the language you’re meeting people in, you aren’t going to want to initiate conversation with new people. Now serves as a good time for reflection because more and more, I look around me and see people from all over the globe that I’m friends with. That being said, I have to remember to keep in touch with friends from America as well.
One of my best friends from the program compared contact with the “home world” like this. On your trip abroad, you’re literally swimming underwater, maybe breathing through a straw (because no one completely gives up speaking English, especially if your parents and best friends don’t speak Spanish). But when you get to meet up with friends from home, it’s like you’re taking a break and coming up for air. One of my best friends from the US visited me for a whole week, and it was crazy how good it was for me. Granted, I didn’t sleep that much because we were spending so much time together, but it did wonders for my spirit. We even got to visit Madrid for a day, where I got to see her off before she flew home.
The point of study abroad could be a lot of things, of course. It varies from person to person, like many other things. While it may be cliche, I’ve learned that it’s also about “finding yourself”: what do you find important, what do you prioritize while you’re abroad, and even who you prioritize keeping in contact with. My advice: never forget how much good a perspective change can be for you.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi! I’m a junior attending Colgate University. I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish – I practice it whenever I can! As a multicultural student (half black and half Italian), I consider myself a city girl and am drawn to vibrant, diverse areas. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, going to the beach, and watching or playing sports. I can’t wait to head to Salamanca, sharpen up my Spanish and share my adventures!</p>