Overcoming Cultural Shock

Before leaving for Spain I was very nervous that I would not be able to adjust to a new way of life with completely new people around me. However, I soon realized that I had nothing to worry about. Everyone in my program was eager to get to know each other and make new friends, just like I was. This made it very easy for everyone because it made the cultural shock more bearable since we were all going through it together.

At first, it was pretty difficult to get around the city and to learn how things work here, especially with the language barrier. But, as time has gone on, it has become easier and easier to navigate the city and I feel that my Spanish has already gotten much better. My first moment of cultural shock happened within the first week I was here, when a friend and I were trying to walk somewhere but couldn’t figure out where we were going because we hadn’t been able to figure out how to set up a phone plan abroad. We tried our best to ask for directions to people on the street in Spanish, but we had trouble understanding the directions. This caused us to panic a little bit because neither of us knew what to do, but eventually we figured it out and no harm was done. Now, however, I have grown very comfortable in Valencia and I can easily navigate the city, probably as easily as I can navigate Pittsburgh.

The biggest takeaway I have so far in my study abroad experience, is that I can’t believe I ever had doubts about whether I wanted to study abroad or not, because the past month and a half has been an incredible and fun experience that everyone should take advantage of. It is an amazing opportunity to make new friends from all over the world, travel and explore new countries and cultures, and have some of the most fun of your life.