Guest blog - Dealing with Yourself - Robert Mason

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High School Abroad in Spain

Authored By:

Patricia Witzig

Traveling across countries has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. I could have not asked for anything more, except for maybe one thing; how to cope with physical loneliness, as well as emotional. Hopefully this will give you some pointers of what to look out for and how to help guide you through the struggle. I must tell you though, this is not a step by step guide about how you are supposed to get through it faster or easier, because it is inevitable that you will feel like you need to cry and that's ok.

First, what I didn't realize is how many outlets of conversation I had before I came here. I come from a family of 6 other people, and I did not realize until it was gone, how many times I got home to my regular likfe and had everyone asking all the time how my day was and what I did at school. I was placed with a single mother and her son and they do not arrive home until 6 or 7 o'clock at night. And lety me tell you, having all that time to yourself really makes you overthink and causes sadness for a time. I had not realized that the time I had in the States was a time filled with many outlets of friends and family that created a peaceful mind because you can spill to your family at any time. With all this time on my hands, I wanted to scream while alone in my apartment. It felt like the only thing I could do to make noise and keep my mind occupied for only a few seconds. I would urgently advise you to find something to do with your time in those momoents when you don't have people around you. I find that music helps the best, but also writing your feelings down can give you a relief. I decided to sign up for guitar classes to fill up some of my free time.

Secondly, I want to say that the only person you need to impress is yourself. This ultimately goes back to the first paragraph if you think about it. As time passed, I coped with actually having to deal with myself after school or anytime that I was alone. Then, the group excursions rolled around. I started to cope with the fact of not being with people often, when we went on the excursion trip, I had to cope with being with people all of the time. Even though, it is usual for me at home in the States to be surrounded by people, the time I have spent alone here in Spain affected my association at this point with others. The first trip, Cádiz, I was so overwhelmed with people, my mind started to race like it did during my first few days alone by myself after school. Irrational thinking took over and it told me to start impressing people. That led to a downfall. At one point, I lost my shorts in the Mediterranean Sea because I thought it would be funny and would make a lasting impression on everyone when I took them off and wove them into the air. Funny enough, a big wave crashed behind me and I actually lost my shorts. This is what happens when you try to impress people. Creating a persona that you think people will like such as I did with the students on the excursion trip with with CIEE, really puts a strain on your brain. Trying to keep up with what you think people would like you to be is exhausting rather than being yourself and not trying to impress them. You are not in this country to impress anybody, you are here to make a good experience for yourself which will lead to life lessons and stories for a lifetime. The only thing you need to do is to try your best; no one can fault you for trying your best. You cannot base your experience based on the experience of others and you cannot base what you do in everyay life based on others' lives. Everybody's experience is going to be different and if there was a right way to do this, everybody would do it the same way and that's just how the world or life work. You are going to try and you're going to fail at some things and you are going to succeed at things you didn't think were possible. For example, I didn't think I would have gotten a 9 out of 10 in Philosophy in Spanish. It's like a quote from one of my favorite movies Monty Python: the Life of Brian "Always look on the bright side of life".

All in all, I think the best way to manage yourself and manage your loneliness and doubts is to really think about the realistic goals instead of the irrational ones. Irrantional thinking and loneliness added to my sadness creating a few weels of intense loneliness. Hopefully , this blog will make it a little easier for you because it is inevitable that you'll have times of sadness and loneliness, whether it be from loneliness of missing family or from adjusting to a new environment. Never think that you're not doing enough. Just you being her means that you have accomplished so many thins to get here and you should be proud. Being here is enough and you're definitely going to learn many life lessons and skills on how to cope with your own thoughts and feelings. This is just a general overview from my experience. I'm sure someone else has a completele different way of looking at things. I hope this one perspective of mine helps you when you have those times of need and feel sad and lonely.