Everyone has always told me how wonderful and influential study abroad is. I always imagined it to be thrilling, but I also admit I was a little terrified in the days leading up to departure.
“Study abroad is one of the most important things a student could do… you are going to learn a new language and get involved in the culture of that country,” said Adrián Gózmez, co-director for the Madrid study abroad program.
But every single day since landing in Madrid feels like a gift. That’s cliché, but it’s true. I am so blessed to be here, in the capital of Spain, for 23 weeks. It’s really starting to feel like home.
“[Study abroad is] the beginning of a new period in life… you can learn more about yourself by living in a new culture, in the differences you identify in others,” said María Ángeles Vergara, another program director.
The siesta is a popular “activity” in Spain. People go home from work and school mid-day for lunch, and then naps before heading back to finish the day. After participating in nightly events, it is easy to see why the siesta is a necessity.
But no matter how exhilarating study abroad may be, there are many things about study abroad that can cause stress –budgeting, classes, and culture shock. It helps to laugh things off.
No pasa nada… it’s like the Spanish equivalent of hakuna matata. It literally means “nothing happened,” but is another way of saying “no worries.” It’s my favorite Spanish phrase.
“You can see at some point there will be a link between you and the people surrounding you,” Ángeles Vergara said. “We always have something in common and it is beautiful to identify the link that joins you and every person you meet during study abroad.”
You are bound to have more than a handful of awkward situations in a new culture with a language barrier. If you greet a teacher at your new ICRP placement and forget to go for the right cheek first and went to the left so you end up kissing her on the mouth instead, just smile and shake it off. No pasa nada.