The Struggles of Study Abroad (and Why You Should Do It)

Rebecca in Venice

I recently returned from a three month Study Abroad term in Spain and I have improved not only my Spanish but my own understanding of myself.

I did not know what to expect when going in to this new adventure and faced some struggles along the way, but now that I am looking back on it I am still so glad that I did it.

New experiences are important parts of growth and the struggles of my Study Abroad have helped me learn quite a bit about myself.

1. A New Style of Learning

The main thing I was warned about that would be different than what I used to is the different style of learning in Spain and that every country has their own approach to teaching.

I was very used to the style of lectures, taking notes, and writing down the rules of the language so that I had an organized visual to study from later. Boy was I surprised when I got to the classrooms in Spain.

The professors were very confident and relatable and enjoyed teaching in conversational styles and explained concepts more through talking them through with us rather than writing on a board or laying down the outline of the lecture.

Everything suddenly became very auditory and a pick up as you go kind of style. I was not prepared and as a visual learner I was intimidated by this style and needed a lot more help and had to ask a lot more questions than I was used to.

I am grateful though because this style pushes students like me to learn to ask for help in new ways and that you shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out when introduced to a challenge.

2. A New Family and Home

My second challenge was adjusting to a brand new home and as a Homestay student I was also adjusting to a brand new family.

Learning where you fit in a new group dynamic can be an adjustment period but I was thrilled because my Homestay family became my main source of support. Every night we would have family dinner together and talk about our days and my roommates would help me if I needed something translated or just needed a break in English.

Having that family-like support and a small group to connect with and relax with every day made all the difference for me. So whether you choose a dorm or a homestay make sure to find a support network in your friendships, being able to connect with others going through the same things you are can really help calm the nerves.

3. Traveling on a Budget

My last main challenge was learning how to travel on a small budget. The last time I had had the opportunity to travel around to different countries was years and years ago and I didn’t have to plan it all myself.

Now that I was in Europe I had the chance to go on a trip within my trip and I wasn’t going to miss it. I learned what sites and apps are supportive of student travelers on a budget for flights, the ins and outs of hostel living, and what my personal traveling style was once I was in a new country so that I would have the most fulfilling experience I could and leave with no regrets and some money still left in my pocket.

Learning how to navigate these three challenges has made me a more academically and financially conscious student and I know that if another opportunity arose to take my studies around the world I would be more prepared for it than ever.

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