| Developing new relationships is one of the best ways to
stay happy in your new environment.
Tip 1: Let Go
Part of what can make the transition difficult is clinging to the life that you leave behind instead of looking forward. Let me tell you, the sooner you can learn to let go of that world for just a few months, the better. Before my journey to Spain, I had friends in the US that I communicated with on a daily basis, and upon my arrival, I had to accept that this wouldn’t be the case anymore. Don’t get me wrong, a quick text or phone call from a friend back home will definitely make your day. But you can’t live your days to their full capacity if your head is still turned toward yesterday. So let go, let the distance kick in and do it’s thing, and enjoy this temporary taste of a totally new life.
Tip 2: Embrace New People
Starting study abroad is just like starting college all over again. I hadn’t really taken into account the whole “making new friends… again” aspect of this semester, but it definitely hit me when I walked into class, sat down, and introduced myself in Spanish to the Korean girl next to me. It took a while for me to get to the point where I finally had people to reach out to when I was bored or wanted to do something, so my advice is this: get started as soon as possible because time goes by quickly and you’ll find that you’re still meeting cool people the week before you leave and you’ll wish that you had met them months earlier.
Tip 3: “Independicize” Yourself (yes I made up that word)
One of the healthiest things that’s happened to me this semester is how ridiculously independent I have become. Once you travel Europe by yourself, there isn’t much that can stop you when you get back to your familiar home university. I take public transportation every single day to get where I want to go (no more of that “Hey buddy, I know it’s late but can you give me a ride to the grocery store?” nonsense). I am responsible for my own time, finances, travel plans, grades, and developing new relationships. AND I don’t have data or WiFi most of the time. This independence has increased my own confidence immeasurably, and in turn made me much happier and healthier.
Tip 4: Schedule Your Time
Create a schedule to make sure that you are using your time to your best advantage. Believe me, you’ll feel silly sitting in your room watching Netflix when your inner self knows that you have an entire city to explore. When I did find myself feeling bored and fidgety, my favorite solution was grabbing some tennis shoes and going for a run in the nearby park. It’s a great use of time, you get to people watch and explore, and you maintain your physical health while you’re at it.
|Find cool places to go for runs! City parks are often great options with breathtaking views.|
Sarah U. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a sophomore studying Spanish and Songwriting at Belmont University.
Sarah Underwood is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at Belmont University.