Why is stepping out of your comfort zone the only way to live?
Well first of all leaving your home, your friends, your parents, your siblings, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your dog, your bed, Chipotle…. A lot easier said then done.
Packing up your bags and heading off to a new place is a tough thing to do. You’ll always hear the “Are you sure you want to leave for that long?” or the “You know you can’t come back once your there right?” and of course “Things will be different when you come back” Blah blah blah. The ones you really have to listen to will say “This will be an experience of a lifetime” and “You will really ‘find’ yourself doing something like this.” I know it sounds extremely cliché but it could not be more valid.
Exploring new horizons, learning to do what doesn’t come easy, adapting to new circumstances, taking a leap of faith, learning, growing…all extremely scary and extremely necessary.
You don’t have to be traveling around Europe to realize that the only way to truly find yourself is doing the above. But for me, studying abroad in Barcelona really opened my eyes to this. Being honest, before stepping foot on the ground of a new country, all of my “important” items stuffed inside two luggage, I lived inside my confortable and naive little “bubble” of a world. My biggest problems were often how much time I would have to do my hair, what outfit I would be wearing that night (probably black), and if there would be something fun to do on the weekend. Although I do still worry about what outfits to wear out (packed very minimally), I’m not sure when I would have stopped worrying so much about these “problems.” Safe to say I have now.
Hola, Bonjour, Hallo, Ciao… (WHAT?)
It couldn’t be more obvious that when you can’t really communicate well with the people you are around, things get a little difficult. This really hit me hard when Katherine (my fellow Barça roomie and pal) and I walked into our homestay and couldn’t understand one word that came out of our host moms’ mouth. Although Luisa is the greatest woman alive and the speaking between us has gotten a lot better, sometimes when I want to say the simplest phrase and just don’t know how, it’s very frustrating.
Needless to say, you can’t be worried about this! I have met more fellow abroad students here that don’t speak any Spanish then ones that actually do. And they seem to be getting by completely fine. Not knowing the language isn’t the end of the world, its part of adjusting. Plus you can just download a translator app on your phone- “But I wont be able to use my phone unless I have wifi?!?!”…Remember those ancient books called dictionaries? They actually come in handy guys!
Adios to my boyfriend aka Chipotle
Can’t say that I am the biggest Chipotle fan- but I’m trying to relate with 99% of you reading this. Although after two months of walking down the street and only seeing signs for paella, bocadillos (sandwiches with literally only a piece of meat and a piece of cheese), tortilla (Spanish omelet), I find myself craving those little bowls of heaven. But I know you will be surprised to say that you will survive without it! I had to give up buffalo chicken- and I know many of you will understand what a struggle that is for me. And wow, I’m alive!
One of my favorite aspects of being abroad is trying different food. Before I came to Barcelona, I ate the same things, pasta and buffalo chicken. Being abroad makes it easy to be adventurous with food. Katherine and I like to refer to it as “Yelping around Europe.” I mean it when I say I have had some of the best meals in my life these past two months…example- Thai food in Amsterdam (unexpected/life-changing).
Strangers are scary
Two months ago, a random person could be looking at me for 2 seconds too long and I’d automatically assume they wanted to kill me. Totally irrational, slightly psychotic. Guess I was always taking the “don’t talk to strangers” thing a little too seriously.
I am proud to say that I have ditched that thought process and realized not every person is bad. It’s so easy to talk to your classmates because they are most likely from the US, speak English and can relate to your abroad life. But it’s when you take a chance and spark up a conversation with locals, other travelers from around the world or the guy sitting next to you on the plane to the Netherlands, that you actually learn something.
Meeting people from around the world and hearing their stories is honestly just incredible. Never thought I would make friends with people from around the world.
Hopefully you have made it to this point and hopefully I inspired you even the slightest bit. An experience like this will really change your life in ways you never really thought about before. It’s REALLY not a bad thing to go beyond your comfort zone, and if not now, will you ever have the chance again?
I know it’s hard to give up the crowded and sweaty house parties for a semester, but trust me- you won’t miss it for a second. Plus if you really just want to dance like I do, the clubs in Europe are pretty fun I guess.
And to end on a little bit of a serious note, a quote I like…
“You’ll never end up in a place that you’re not meant to be in” –Anonymous