Once upon a time… before going abroad, I knew I wanted to go somewhere warm, possibly the beach. I also had taken three years of Spanish in high school, so I figured studying in Spain would ease the language barrier and improve my skills. I had never heard of Alicante, but the picture automatically caught my eye. The picture online shows the city of Alicante along the coast with the Santa Barbara castle in the background; Alicante looked like the perfect beach town. I started researching into it more and found out that there was a great business school here! As a business major with a concentration in marketing, this would allow me to continue my studies and stay on track for graduating in four years. CEA was the only program that allowed me to be enrolled in the University of Alicante and take business classes.
Before studying abroad, my biggest reservation was being without my friends in a new country. As a homebody, I knew that the first few weeks would consist of missing family, friends, and home. I made sure to accept this and become aware of my feelings once abroad. I have always journaled throughout my life, so I bought a new journal just for studying abroad to keep track of my travels, stories, and feelings. Once I arrived in Alicante, I only had a few moments where I felt lonely. The programming in the first few days kept me busy enough that I didn’t have time to dwell on my thoughts.
Once I was settled into my apartment, I had more time to reflect alone in my room about my first few weeks. I surprised myself by handling my emotions so well. I accepted that I would be living here for the next four months and I couldn’t change that. Instead, I took this opportunity to gain independence, social skills, and problem-solving skills. There have been so many moments while abroad where there were problems with communication, directions, language, etc. When I started to accept these moments as periods of growth, I started to embrace the new and different experiences.
Thinking back to my first two months, a common theme that I experienced was acceptance. I had to accept that this was my new life, these were my new friends, and this was the lifestyle in Spain. I’ve never felt prouder of myself for handling uncomfortable situations so well, considering I didn’t know how I would handle it all. Having the balance between confidence and humility is key when exploring new places. There are no words to encapsulate the study abroad experience -- but my advice is to just go for every opportunity and your story will write itself.
Emilija Razma is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at Colorado State University.