Ever wonder what it’s like to spend your birthday in another country on a different continent?
This past weekend I celebrated my 22nd birthday in Barcelona, Spain and it was absolutely amazing. There’s something about traveling to different places that makes you a little bit more whole. This weekend I’ve realized many things but, most importantly, I think I grew up a little more.
I’ve realized that when we are little, we always wish to grow up, but once we hit a certain age we start wishing the clock would slow down. We wish to return to simpler times.
Aside from learning about Spanish culture while studying abroad, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I believe more than anything that studying abroad allows for you to experience a preview of what growing up is really like. You learn to fend for yourself and to think on your own.
Whether it is traveling alone or with friends, you experience a different type of traveling than you do when you’re with your family. Traveling as an adult allows you to experience briefly a new culture and language. There’s just something about the feeling of being small in a big place that’s comforting, exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. It makes you realize that there is so much of this world that is left to see and experience.
As it’s been about 2 1/2 months since I arrived in Spain, I’ve become more clear about myself as a person and student.
As much as I love traveling, I don’t think I could do it for a living. I like the comfort of being home with friends and family. I like being in the same time zone and being able to have instant communication. It’s a comfort for me to be able to communicate fluently and easily with strangers on the street or ordering my food.
But however hard the hardships have been these past few months, I’ve also grown tremendously. I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle here and the way students learn and professors teach. My listening has gotten a lot better and day by day I find myself learning and retaining more vocabulary than before.
As hard as it has been to miss home a little less and focus on being present each day, I have learned to be patient; to focus on one day at a time. Four months sounds like a long time to be in a different country, but as I’m living it in real time, the months become a jumble. Before you know it, I’ll be packing my bags to go back to my comfort zone — my home.
PS: Barcelona is an amazing city to visit. If you are ever in Spain, be sure to visit. I personally loved it a lot more than Madrid. To me it was a lot more peaceful and laid back. The weather was great and so was the food and culture. Taxis are super reliable and get you all over the city for a cheap price. Be sure to visit Park Guell, one of Gaudi’s works. The park is breathtaking and gives you a really nice view of Barcelona. The famous benches are also a huge plus and just absolutely beautiful.
Tiffany Huang is an international business senior. She is studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain for a full semester.