In honor of four wonderful months in Madrid, here are the four most important things I have learned during my time, here:
- Be Open
One of the most important things you can do while studying abroad is to embrace everything that comes your way. Being thrown into a different culture can seem like you just space-rocketed onto another planet. Here, in Spain, learning the language was mentally exhausting and getting used to the different etiquette was beyond frustrating. But, because I came to Madrid with an open heart and mind, the challenge was worth it and all the more rewarding. Be open to the culture you are coming into, and embrace it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
- Stop Planning
Yes, it’s true, some things you have to plan for. But for me, some of my very best memories have been the result of spur-of-the-moment, on-a-whim decisions. The days that weren’t so jam-packed with places to go and things to see were the days where I enjoyed myself the most. Whether you are in your host country, or traveling around the world, make sure you leave a little room for spontaneity. You’ll find that magic can happen when least expected.
- No Money is Wasted on Travel
My mom said this to me during a phone conversation after I was feeling guilty for having to buy so many plane tickets for Spring Break, and she couldn’t have been more right. The experiences, insight, perspective, and memories you gain while traveling the world is something you just can’t put a price on. Thirty years from now, I will remember all of the places I ventured to and the lessons I took from them—not how much it cost.
- “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Coming to Madrid and adjusting to a completely different language and culture has been one of the most difficult, yet rewarding challenges of my life. It was hard, to say the least. But, it taught me a lot about my inner strength, as a person, and showed me what I can overcome in the face of adversity. When everything you know in life is taken away from you, you have nothing left to do but discover who YOU are. When you are out of your comfort zone is when you meet your true self.