Today is Thursday, October 27th. If you asked me exactly one year ago where I thought I’d be in life right now, this is what I might have told you. I would’ve just finished a summer working in a research lab or participating in a medical internship, I would be continuing my neuroscience studies abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark with Danish International Studies (DIS) surrounded by my closest friends from home, and I would still be pre-med thinking about taking the MCAT’s when I returned to school for my spring semester. This was all part of my carefully constructed life plan, and a plan that one year later has changed completely.
I’ve always been someone who has always prepared for the future. Everyday during breakfast, you can find me thinking about what I’ll be eating for dinner. I own a Pinterest board filled with ideas for my wedding and a Google Document where I write down names that I might want to use for my future pets and children. So you can imagine, that last year, as every aspect of my well-constructed life plan for the future fell apart, so did I.
Over the last twelve months, I struggled through the decision of abandoning a long held dream of becoming a doctor to instead go after a passion I had for learning about the social sciences. I changed my major from neuroscience to a sociology and psychology double major, and in that decision, I went from knowing exactly what I’d be doing school and career wise for the next ten years of my life to not knowing what the future would hold at all.
Quite possibly the biggest and most unexpected change to happen to me was deciding to come to Spain to study abroad for my fall semester. Though DIS was catered towards students majoring in the natural sciences, I had planned all along to stay the course and study in Copenhagen with several of my good friends from school even after changing my major. That was until April, a few weeks before the deadline for most study abroad programs came, when I found out that the courses I had wanted to take at DIS had all been filled.
I had a few options. I could wait and see if a spot in the program opened up, I could withdraw my application and apply again in the spring semester, or I could find another program in another country to go to. As I looked through other programs, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed as none of them lived up to the “ideal” program I had made up DIS to be.
I was sitting at my school’s café one afternoon, distraught, telling a friend about my study abroad struggles. She mentioned a trip that she had been on to Spain, and told me how her favorite part was getting to visit a city called Granada. From that moment on, Granada, a city I knew barely anything about, somehow became everything I wanted out of a study abroad experience. DIS was everything I wanted in a program, but IES Abroad Granada was everything I didn’t know I needed.
Since coming to Granada, I’ve had to come to terms with not always having a plan. Whether it be with what I’m going to do this weekend or what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight, I’ve been slowly learning to live life more in the present and just go with the flow. From wandering arbitrarily through the streets and finding new cool places to hang out, to meeting strangers from all over the world in the most random of places, not having a plan and living in the moment has also been how some of my best memories I've made so far here have come about. Living in the present has also taken away from the pressures I sometimes face to live up to my carefully crafted expectations.
While I’m not ready to abandon the color-coded agenda I keep by my side every day, I’m discovering how many serendipitous experiences come out of not having a plan. I’m learning that there’s no point in living in the future, if you’re not going to enjoy the present.
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Nicole Von Wilczur
My name is Nicole von Wilczur, from Phoenix, Arizona. I'm a rising college junior attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. When I'm not studying, I enjoy fighting for social justice, being outdoors, photography, and learning to recite the lyrics to 90's and early 2000's rap songs. I've never traveled outside of the US, so I am very excited for the opportunity to be studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and sharing my experiences with you!