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Post Study Abroad: Unexpected Lessons

Here are a few unexpected lessons I learned after studying abroad for a year in Madrid, Spain. 


…you’ll make the uncomfortable, comfortable

    Whatever you’re scared of doing, you won’t be scared of it by next month. THAT’S how quickly things change when you’re adjusting to your new home abroad. Never traveled alone? No worries. You’ll be a pro by next month, or maybe in two months after you make all the first mistakes in your first trip!


…you’ll realize how much you changed, when you get back

    Especially if you’re heading back to the place you left from, you’ll realize how much you’ve changed from the time you left. It’ll feel like a year ago was ages ago. The person you look at in photos is a whole other person. You’ve had to change the way you think and deal with life, changing who you are as an individual on many levels. According to a post abroad meeting, we were told being abroad for a total of six months can change a person by a total of four years in comparison if you would’ve stayed home and not left because of all the situations you’re placed in that you wouldn’t have normally dealt with on a regular basis in your hometown.


…your friend group will change

    This wasn’t unexpected to me, but you’ll realize your dynamic of life and people you spend time around will change because you have too! No worries, you’ll meet new people you connect with better, however still value the old friendships you have.


…you’ll want to go back abroad again, ASAP!!!

Depending on how your trip went, you probably will want to go back abroad. There are a ton of options available to you for when you get back and grants such as fullbright that allow you to go abroad after you receive your bachelor’s degree, fully paid, for a total of ten months either teaching english, doing research or an internship.

Check out fullbright and what they offer here! — https://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/regions


…you’ll learn not to be so hard on yourself

    You’ll feel really lost for a while and you’ll wonder what’s the point of being where you’re at. However, just go back to the goal you’re wanting to achieve.


…you’ll realize what it truly important

I used to drink tea and Starbucks 24/7 before heading abroad. It was when I was gone the year that I realized it was a way to fill my time and feel a sense of satisfaction in my day. When I was abroad, it was there I realized the value of friendships, connections, people and that items and gifts are great – but not necessary. I began to practice minimalism and realize what adds value to my life is the connections we make. I noticed on the days I was not connecting to people, I would search for a way to feel whole through external items.


…perhaps you’ll become a minimalist

Your luggage is over five pounds the weight allowed? You’ve lost your luggage? Lost your gloves, favorite jewelry, maybe even passport?

NO WORRIES! You’ve come to realize not to attach yourself to material items and all can be replaced, but your experiences will always be irreplaceable!



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Hello! My name is Ada, I am a forth year at Sonoma State University studying Spanish Language and Human Development!
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