When you ask a student who has studied abroad how their overall experience went, their initial reaction is generally along the lines of, “Best decision of my life! GO!”. What they don’t mention is the transition within the first month or so when you are becoming accustomed to new things and ways of thinking that aren’t what you’re used to and are different than in the United States. The first month abroad flew by (no pun intended) and really was a blur; I started my journey to Spain with a quick stop to Reykjavik, Iceland for a few days (highly recommend) then met other ISA students in the Madrid Airport. We were shuffled around a few Spanish cities for a week before being able to unpack our suitcases in our new homes and meet our Spanish families. From there, a lot of planning goes into your travel for the next few months and finding the people you’re comfortable with. All while trying to settle your schedule to meet credits accepted at home (advising center shout out), eating eclectic fish varieties (and preparations) for overbearingly large mid-afternoon meals, and trying to shower in less than 4 minutes… to name a few.
After a few weekends spent away in Munich, Cádiz and Valencia, I can finally say that the trek back from the Sevilla Airport feels like coming home. I’ve realized how lucky my (random) roommate and I are to not only get along so well, but to have meals cooked for us daily, laundry done and fresh sheets every week. I’ve found that it has been really beneficial to establish daily habits, such as running/exercising along the river (thank you Spanish weather <3), and to acquaint yourself with the city in order to make it seem more familiar and manageable. Although I do miss my family, I’ve loved getting to know my host family’s children and grandchildren and I’m grateful to be living in such a welcoming and authentic Spanish neighborhood. Over one third of the way through the program, each day and their accompanied learning curves are appreciated, but most definitely challenging. Regardless … how much can I complain with a daily view like this?