Study Abroad Revealed

It feels so good to have a long weekend – at last, 4 days to breathe, rest, soak up the sun, socialize and catch up on my to-do list. With midterms out of the way, life is once again manageable…

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Glass Palace at Retiro Park, Madrid

Before coming to Madrid, I had heard that academics abroad “were a breeze,” which I have realized is quite an inaccurate generalization now that it’s halfway through the semester. Although it may be true to a certain extent, every program is different. On top of that, the work load is going to depend on specific courses that you choose. This semester, I have a full schedule with the max number of credits possible, something that I haven’t done up to this point. Sometimes, on days when I have classes from noon to 7:30pm with no break and arrive home with a pile of readings, a paper, and a presentation to do, I question my existence (hmm, just when I thought I had escaped high school…) I feel that I’m missing out on part of the fun and the cultural experience that’s supposed to be the epitome of study abroad.

“Classes abroad are super chill.”

“You’re going to have the time of your life!”

But study abroad is not all fun and games. It can be really hard- going to school, adjusting to a new culture, keeping up with everything/everyone from back home. Ultimately, I see that every class I’m taking is for a good reason and cannot be happier for the opportunity to apply what I’m learning in a one-of-a-kind city that is Madrid (seriously, I may be biased but Madrid is the best and it’s hard to imagine living elsewhere for 4 months). My friends and I always joke about how nice it would be if we studied abroad without the “study” part and had all the time in the world. We would gain an infinite amount of time to visit every place we like, travel anywhere we dream of, meet all the people we wish, and live a pretty fantabulous life (forget about that bank account). If you’re like me though, I don’t know if I would be as keen on making the most of every day. Responsibilities and commitments encourage me to value the free time that I have.

The thing about study abroad (especially if only for a semester) is that you will constantly feel like there is so much to do and such little time. For me, I wanted to challenge myself academically but also to have a good time going to every restaurant, bar, market and spot that my friends had recommended, to experience the city and culture at every occasion; I wanted to get to know Madrid and all parts of Spain very well but also to travel to many countries in Europe. As the weeks go by, I think I’ve gradually realized that I won’t be able to hit up every restaurant that I said I would, and I certainly don’t have enough weekends left to travel everywhere on my wishlist (see you next time, Amsterdam!) And the list goes on. This reality may come as a disappointment due to previous expectations, but it shouldn’t because there will be more opportunities in the future. The most important thing is to cherish every second of the study abroad experience, the good and the bad, and know that there are a million other people who can only wish to be in your shoes. So… without letting expectations get the best of you, make the most of the present and have the time of your life, as I am! Xoxo, KT

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