¡Hola otra vez! I can hardly believe I’m saying it, but after a few wonderful weeks here in Spain, I’ll be flying back to the states in just three days. In some ways the trip has flown by, and in other ways it feels like I’ve been here forever. I’d like to use this blog post to talk a little about an interesting phenomenon I’ve experienced. Though there is so much to do and see here, I feel like I’ve settled into a mundane sort of routine, and part of me is excited to get back home in a few days because of that. I thought for sure that every last bit of me would want to stay here once I neared the end of my study abroad, but if I’m being honest, that’s not the case. So, I’m going to be relaying some pieces of advice that I think I’d give to my past self, to prevent myself from becoming too entrenched in a routine that feels ordinary (despite the fact that I’m in such an extraordinary place).
First piece of advice: Don’t spend so much time in the residence.
Here in Spain, I’ve been staying in a residence for university students—it’s like a mix between a dorm, apartment, and hotel. It’s a wonderful place to live, but I wish I hadn’t spent so much time there! There have been a few days that I’ve stayed holed up in my room, doing homework or reading or—I’ll admit it—staring at my phone. Even on those days that I had homework to do, I wish I would’ve gotten out a little more and worked on it at a café or a park or something. I think this would’ve helped me not to feel quite as bored on those days.
Second piece of advice: Sprinkle in a fun and unique experience every now and again.
I did a decent job at this throughout my study abroad trip, but I definitely could’ve done better. There were too many evenings where I was content to eat dinner and turn in for the night, when I could’ve just as easily gone to grab ice cream with friends or gone to a park to watch the sunset. One of the times where I was successfully spontaneous and gave myself the chance to do something cool was going to see a production of Mamma Mia with some friends. The show was fantastic, and it was fun to challenge myself to follow the plot as the actors spoke Spanish—and spoke it quickly! After leaving the show and grabbing some tacos with my friends, I went to sleep that night feeling very grateful for the day. I think it would’ve been worth it to push myself and throw in a couple more unique experiences like that.
Third piece of advice: Gratitude is the best attitude.
After being in Spain for a couple weeks, things started to feel more normal; the trip felt less like a vacation and more permanent…which was a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, it made me feel like I was adapting well and it gave me confidence in my ability to navigate a foreign country. On the other hand, I started to forget how grateful I should be for the opportunity to study abroad. As a result, the trip started to feel like more of a daily grind than a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be appreciated and enjoyed. So, if I could give advice to the version of myself that existed three and a half weeks ago when I embarked on this journey, I would’ve told myself to adopt an attitude of gratitude each and every morning, and to live out that gratitude throughout the day.
Now don’t get me wrong, this study abroad in Madrid has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are just some things that I, personally, would do differently if I had the chance. If you are someone who is considering going abroad, or will be doing so soon, it’s my hope that my advice might help you to live your experience to the fullest!
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back for one final update in about a week to tell you about my return to the States.
Hasta la próxima,