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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Truthfully, I am having a difficult time beginning this piece and not because I haven’t written an article in a few months or am experiencing writer’s block. Rather, I just cannot begin to understand how I am here. It feels like just yesterday I was submitting my applications for abroad and now the months have come and gone and I am back here in the United States.

I made the decision to go to Barcelona because I had taken some Spanish in high school and my best friend had just been in Madrid, so it just seemed like the right decision. My heart became infatuated with the idea, even after I came to realize that I would be doing it alone. While the majority of my friends also traveled for the spring semester, I was the only one on their own. The idea was daunting and exciting, but it was also something that I knew I had to do

These last few years of college have been amazing, and filled with wonderful friends who love and accept me for who I am. But soon, we might not all be in the same state with graduation on the horizon. While it would be a dream to all live close together after school, it isn’t realistic. I can’t just wait around waiting for my friends to decide where they would like to be, and I also can’t hold myself back from any opportunities that arise just because I won’t have a familiar face by my side. That being said, my time abroad was great preparation for what is to come.

I still remember sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting for my final flight and questioning every decision I had made. Who did I think I was going off to live by myself in a foreign country? I mean, we’re talking about the same girl who has had anxiety since before middle school. But nonetheless, I had made up my mind and there I was: abroad and alone

I arrived in Barcelona not knowing anyone or a single word of Catalan. I spent the first few days getting to know the girls in my program and on tours of the city. I was so nervous at first worrying about if people would like me or if they’d find me weird. I just kept telling myself that it was important for me to put myself out there and the right people will gravitate toward me. So I did just that and sure enough I made some amazing friends that I got to see all new parts of the world with. And one of them even goes to school here! 

However, things didn’t fall into place immediately. I still had only known these girls for a few days, and the reality of my situation began to sink in. My stress levels rose when I couldn’t understand the clerks at the store and the lack of greenery had begun to make me a little stir crazy. Before classes started, I didn’t know what to do with myself and I know that sounds crazy. What do you mean you’re in a brand new city and you don’t know what to do with yourself? But I was feeling stuck and unadjusted. I knew that it was going to take some time to adjust, but I started to fear that this discomfort would never go away and I’d be trapped for months before I could leave. I was so stressed I even reached out to the program director to learn about withdrawing, just in case I couldn’t do it. However, knowing I could leave if I wanted and that it would cost $10,000 out of pocket (which I definitely do not have!) started to help me want to stay. And thank God I did. 

I decided if I wanted to enjoy my time abroad, I’d have to try. So I started taking myself out on “self-dates” throughout the city and I continued to push myself to get to know the people around me. I saw beautiful sights, ate delicious food, and made so many wonderful friends. I am so grateful I didn’t give up because I am a completely different person now, and for the better. 

So, if you’ve been considering going abroad but you’re afraid of doing it alone, don’t be! Everyone’s experience will be different, but you never know just how good it can be!

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Danica Shores

U Mass Amherst '24

Danica Shores is from the small town of Sandwich, Massachusetts located on Cape Cod. She has grown up with a loving mother, 3 siblings, many cats, two turtles, and a bird. Her interests include yoga, self-care, poetry, and taking long walks. Currently, Danica is studying as a psychology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her interests revolve around medical social work and providing therapeutic practices for young-adult women.