[Agur: The equivalent of goodbye in Euskara]
Growing up isn’t easy. There’s never a right time to do it, it just kind of happens, whether you want it to or not. These past three months studying abroad have taught me so much. I’ve felt the growth within me and there were even times where I felt growing pains in my heart — if that’s even a real thing.
Moving is never easy, starting new is even harder. But when you combine moving to another country and starting new it’s hectic. Oh and don’t forget to add in learning and conversing in a new culture and language.
Many people come back from their study abroad adventure talking about how amazing their time abroad was and looking their pictures you couldn’t agree more. But I wanted to devote my last post to sharing some of the not-so-conventional emotions, thoughts and experiences that happen while you’re abroad that aren’t addressed as much.
Never forget to allow yourself to feel. As hard as that might be, emotions demand to be felt. So whether you’re having a tough time or just adjusting, it’s OK to feel those emotions. You don’t need an explanation for being human.
Yes, it’s amazing that you’re in a different environment and your life looks so exciting from another person’s perspective but it’s also OK to miss home. It’s OK to want familiarity back — there is nothing wrong with it, you just need time. With time you will get out of your funk, I promise. I’ve been there and it does get better. You’ll still feel it at times but it gets less and less when you start becoming accustomed to your surroundings.
Just be patient, you’ll get there.
It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. You meet a lot of people during this time. The people who stay and accept you for who you are, the ones who never fail to check up on you, those are the keepers. Keep them close to your heart. You might not realize it then but they become huge factors in your growth. Remember to be present during the time you spend with them.
Studying abroad is about the experience, not the grade. This is something that I struggled a lot with during my time here. It was hard to accept the fact that sometimes, even when I tried my hardest, I wasn’t able to obtain the results I wanted. Learning in a new environment is hard, please remind yourself that you are still learning.
You won’t get it on the first try but the important thing is to keep trying. I know it may seem like it’s not going anywhere but trust me you might be surprised at how much you have learned by the end of it. At the same time this will make you realize just what kind of learning style works best for you. Remember to not get lost in the results but rather focus on the process that gets you through this time.
Missing home — this was by far the hardest thing during my experience. I was in a constant state of missing my family, my friends and my familiarity. But don’t let this stop you from going out, in fact allow this to be the push to encourage yourself to step outside your comfort zone. There were times when I got here that I didn’t want to do anything but to hop on the next flight and go back home. But I stayed and I forced myself to go out … and I am so glad that I did. It was during these times that I grew a lot more.
Life. During any adventure there comes a point where life happens. For the better or the worse, sometimes things just happen. Unfortunately for me during this time some family emergencies came up and it pained me to not be able to do anything. I was stuck in a foreign country unable to go home during the time in which being home was the only comfort that I wanted. I struggled during this time, feeling lost and unable to do anything about it.
But this is where your friends come in, the ones that you only met a few months ago instantly become your family during this process; they help you. I know everyone deals with pain differently but for me, it was comforting knowing that I had shoulders to lean on when I didn’t even have to ask.
Overall, this journey was unforgettable and something that I am extremely proud of. I’ve got a week left of school and I don’t think there is ever an easy way to say goodbye — especially to something that has been life changing. I’m forever grateful that I was able to experience a little part of the culture of the Basque country.
If you ever get an opportunity to study abroad, know that it is worth it.
Tiffany Huang is an international business senior. She is studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain for a full semester.
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