When I made the decision to study abroad, I was thrilled. Every person I spoke to would hear at least once a week about my plans to travel to Spain and how excited I was to finally get
to travel to Europe. The excitement continued as I selected a program and booked my flights, but as the departure date grew closer and closer, I became more and more nervous. The feeling
in my stomach was more of a feeling of dread than excitement. I would often think to myself “What have I gotten myself into?” I tried to soak in time with my friends and family before my
departure, but in the back of my mind, I was terrified, and sad. I had no idea how I would conquer this giant ahead of me, and it was advancing quickly.
My dread only grew when I arrived at the airport hours early, feeling prepared, only to find out I didn’t have an important travel document required by my airline. As I stood outside of the checkout area for an hour trying to complete this form with the help of a kind employee, I felt like I was going to throw up. “It’s not too late to turn around and go home” I thought to myself standing there. I am so glad I didn’t. Although the feelings of nervousness did not subside until a few days after my arrival in Spain, I quickly fell in love with the beautiful place I chose to call my home for the next three months.
As much time as I spent traveling across Europe and trying new things with my friends, I think some of the most valuable moments I spent were in the company of myself. I often would take walks along the pier or to the beach, find a cozy spot, and sit and reflect on my life, my college experience, my values, my future. Being so far away from all the comfort and complexity of my life at home allowed me to really explore myself and realize things about myself that I did not realize before. One of these things being how brave I am. I never thought of myself as particularly brave or daring before in my life, I always thought that I needed the help of others or at least the companionship of others in order to do brave things. I was so wrong. I said almost daily to myself “You can never say you aren’t brave again.”
I surprised myself daily, whether it was trying new foods, activities, or taking solo trips to new places where I didn’t speak the language. I definitely experienced culture shock and I definitely experienced growing pains. I was homesick often. However, I believe this experience was beautiful, and I loved it. I feel like a new, brave, independent, daring, and culturally educated version of myself. I learned so many important lessons and was taken aback daily by the beauty of my surroundings in Europe. I will never forget my time abroad and I will never forget the kindness and generosity of my host family who made me feel so comfortable and cared for, despite our language barrier. I hope I get the opportunity to travel abroad again with family or friends and show them some of the places that became so special and sacred to me.
Annalise Martin (BS Psychology) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Malaga, Spain through ISA. Annalise had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying Abroad was an amazing experience that taught me so much about myself and about the world! I am so grateful I was able to have that experience and have a semester in Europe. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything!”
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