Intercultural

5 Things I’ve Learned Studying Abroad

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Hannah Baird is a student at Wright State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Malaga, Spain.

As my time in Málaga, Spain, comes to an end, I cannot help but reflect on this amazing month. From the beautiful cities that I got to see to the amazing friendships that I made, this month has been a life changing experience. Here are five things that I’ve learned while being abroad.

  1. It’s okay to get lost.

The first time I got lost I was in the Madrid airport. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the right terminal and I was running late to meet with my group. I could feel myself on the verge of tears until I stopped to take a deep breath and to remind myself that I was in Spain. And let me tell you, that was not the only time I got lost, but I learned that it’s okay to get lost. When you get lost, you truly are immersing yourself in the culture by finding little shops you would not have found otherwise or even talking to locals asking for directions. I found some of my favorite cafes while I got lost in the amazing city.

  1. Experience > Souvenirs

I cannot stress this one enough. The more time I spent experiencing the Spanish culture like going to discotechas or going out for sangria and tapas, the more fun I was having. So instead of buying the Málaga t-shirt, spend your money on riding the Ferris wheel or trying the different Spanish cuisine.  I promise that you will cherish the pictures of the sunset from the rooftop bar over the silly coffee mug.

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  1. Being alone is awesome.

Before coming to Spain, I hated being alone. I felt like it was a sign that I was lonely. I always relied on other people to go places with me. After coming to a foreign country without knowing anyone, I was forced to be alone. I learned that going to get a smoothie and journal alone was one of the most relaxing parts of my day. I feel so much more independent and in control with my life.  I seriously cannot wait to go home to explore my hometown alone.

  1. It’s okay if you gain a few pounds while abroad.

At the start I was so concerned that I was going to gain weight while being in Spain. My body wasn’t used to the amount of carbs I was eating and I just felt overwhelmed. But I’ve accepted the fact that I probably did gain a few pounds from the amount of sangria, tapas, and helado I consumed. And I’m perfectly fine with it. I mean, how can you come to a foreign country and not try all of the amazing food here?

  1. Traveling is good for the soul.

I think this is the most important thing that I’ve learned while being in Spain, let alone a foreign country. I feel refreshed and ready to take on whatever life throws at me. My time in Spain has made me realize that life is too short to be unhappy and to feel like your life isn’t going anywhere. We get so tied up in our own bubbles that we forget to just live in the moment.  If you want to go skydiving or get a tattoo, then nothing is holding you back from doing those things except yourself.  Traveling has reminded me to stop worrying about the future and to just live.

So thank you, Málaga, for giving me the best summer of my life. Thank you for letting me taste the delicious Spanish foods, meet amazing friends, and to truly learn more about myself. Thank you for letting me see the world in a whole new way.

The world awaits…discover it.

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