I wasn’t sure what to write this time as I feel like I have talked a lot about differences between my Spanish life and my American life already but I realize as I sit here post-siesta at the dining room table with my afternoon cup of tea that I have made a lot of new discoveries about myself. As I mentioned before, coming here was a big step for me in terms of my anxiety and I expected to feel homesick, to be flabbergasted by the breathtaking landscapes of Spain, and happily adjust to the siesta schedule, what I didn’t expect was to find out more about myself.
Studying abroad puts you out of your element. It forces you to rethink the everyday choices and activities you normally do automatically. Going into my freshman year of college I had a very stubborn and closed outlook on many things. I judged people before I knew them, was hesitant to take any classes outside of my usual subjects, and questioned the weekend culture at Whitman. I never thought these opinions were malleable until I started looking back at who I had become later on. I think these changes make me a better and happier person honestly and just like the transformation that I had at Whitman, I am experiencing a similar metamorphosis here.
I find myself more open to things here and more positive towards new experiences and new people. I am doing things I never thought I would have the confidence or ability to do, like going topless on a beach in Barcelona or wandering the streets of Granada without a map just to explore. These may seem like little things but for me they are big accomplishments. Studying abroad has given me a vast perspective on my life. Before I was very focused on myself, on how things were happening to me and criticizing the negative aspects of my life. I was egocentric which, I have found is actually pretty normal as an American and we don’t realize it until we remove ourselves from that culture and take a step back. In Spain, I take on the tough stuff with a global and thoughtful eye rather than a personal and pessimistic one. For example, a few weeks ago I celebrated my 21st birthday and while I had a blast with my new friends here I was really missing my friends and family back home. I told my friend as we were eating rose-shaped ice cream on a bench in Barcelona, how much I was missing my friends at home and how I was concerned about growing apart from them while I was here. She said with a big smile, “but that is how you know you have great friends. If they are making the extra effort to keep in touch with you it’ll only make you closer.” I never thought about it that way before she said this and ever since I have felt incredibly lucky when I hear from a friend even if it is only once every couple of weeks.
I am so incredibly grateful to get the chance to not only explore Spain and its culture but also to learn more about myself. I think this experience has really changed me in the best possible ways.