To start I want to assure you that this blog isn’t in the slightest some sort of tragic post about how I’m not enjoying my year abroad in fact in some ways it’s the opposite. Since being here I’ve experienced so much, travelled so much, met so many different people but most importantly I’ve gained so much respect for myself. As cringey as it sounds sometimes when I feel myself working myself up about everything I sit down, I take deep breathes and tell myself to look at how well I’ve done so far and I can’t help but be proud of myself in a sense. A year abroad is so far out of my comfort zone that in a silly way I genuinely can’t believe I’ve done this well so far.
Whenever anyone spoke about a year abroad or even a set period spent abroad as part of their degree, it always sounded like it was the most incredible time of their lives. “The best year of your life” is a phrase I heard multiple times. I call bullshit. Sure, I’m having an amazing time and I’m learning to love Madrid like a second home but no one really tells you about how hard it is at the same time. When I first arrived in Madrid I tried to push down everything I was feeling; the homesickness, the unfamiliarity, the loneliness. My mentality was: this is my year abroad, I must enjoy every second of it. The first few days were tough if I’m being completely honest; I remember calling my mum and just hearing her voice set me off and I was pushing down tears -with little success- so that she wouldn’t worry about me and would think I was having a blast. I didn’t understand what was happening, I’d been at university away from home before for months on end and hadn’t felt any form of homesickness even close to this. It was like I couldn’t control how I felt and I had no idea how to handle it.
I arrived in Madrid just over 18 weeks ago which is one hell of a long time when I actually think about it but also nothing when I realise I have around 23 weeks left here. The first weeks passed in a blur, so much so that I’m not sure I even remember them properly due to being exhausted from all the partying and trying to make friends, from the unfamiliarity, from going to classes, from wanting to explore this new place I was in, all while also being emotionally drained from missing home. Overall, my experience so far has been a lot more crying than I anticipated and I’ve realised that that is completely ok. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone obviously, I definitely think some people are far more suited for a year abroad than others and it just depends how you handle these situations, which you can’t fully know until you’re put into the situation.
All of this being said, after going home for Christmas and seeing all of my friends and family and then returning to Madrid, I haven’t felt the slightest bit homesick. Maybe it just takes some time to adjust and get used to things. Sure, speaking Spanish still terrifies me slightly and I hate to admit I end up stuttering when put under pressure when speaking to a native person, but it means I’m improving in some way surely.
I’m sure I’ll be uploading another blog soon, maybe with some general advice I’d give to anyone about to go on a year abroad, but for now if anyone has any questions or anything my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.