The Hard Times

Authored by:
Teigen J.

I haven’t posted in awhile. After the program excursion to Morocco, I fell into a rut. I had realized while away that while I wasn’t having a particularly bad time, I wasn’t having a particularly good time either. This was a disappointing realization, after all, who wouldn’t rather have an “eh” time in the comfort of their own home? It was hard. I was constantly asking myself the questions,“Why? Why am I here, and what’s the point of all this?” I was counting down the actual minutes of each class and I found that by the time I was done counting, I hardly wanted to return home. Like I said, it was disappointing and it was hard. For the longest time I didn't know what to do, but after giving it some time and effort, I am once again extremely excited to be studying abroad and I look forward to my next seven months in Spain. However, I still want to share with you what was happening and what I was feeling. To start off my story, you should know that my main challenges stemmed from school, independence, and thoughts of home. 

My host school in Spain is extremely challenging, even to the standards of my Spanish speaking peers, and while this is something I can appreciate, it is also extremely dull. My Spanish school is strictly lecture and note-taking. We have finals type exams every two weeks, and school days are 7 hours with a twenty-minute break. I entirely understand that I am here tostudy abroad, but outside of school I was spending the vast majority of my free-time only doing school work. Schoolwork has never been a thing I enjoy, unfortunately, in order to remain even somewhat on track with my Spanish peers, this is what I had to do. It was also the expectation of all those around me, which leads me to my second struggle: independence. 

When first deciding that I would study abroad, there was never a thought in my mind about what would happen to my independence. If anything, I'd have thought it would grow, but arriving here I found new limitations. My natural parents have always treated me as a capable individual, they have trusted me to make my own decisions, and manage my time. My previous school environments had only facilitated this, and as such, I often forget that much of the world will see me as only my age. Living with a new family and going to a new school, the expectations of how I should act and behave were very different. People expected me to act younger, to not be as independent, and not be as capable. These expectations were coming from my host family, school, and even my Spanish peers. My rules reflected these expectations and I was unable to branch out to do the things I wanted, the things I decided to study abroad for. I often felt treated like a young child. 

And finally, there were the thoughts of home. While yes, I surely missed my family, and still do, it wasn’t homesickness that was bringing me down. It was the knowledge that with the way things were going, I knew I would be having a much better time at home. I knew I would be in an equally as challenging school, would have to spend less time on schoolwork, and would be getting much better grades. I knew that I would have the independence to do the things I wanted and to make my own decisions. These were the thoughts that were bringing me down, but even so, I knew I still wanted to be in Spain, I just needed something to change.

Through talks with my family, my host family, and my host school, all of these aspects have improved greatly. I won’t deny that there are still areas I would like to make progress, nor will I say that these next seven months won't hold challenges of their own, but I am working towards my goals each day and I believe that this can be a truly wonderful year. I plan to start blogging much more as my personal writing is also something I would like to improve, so.... bear with me, look forward to more, and until next time, best wishes.

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