AIFS Study Abroad Blog

Breaking out of your comfort zone when studying abroad

[Breaking out of your comfort zone when studying abroad | AIFS Study Abroad, Customized Faculty Led Programs]

After landing in my new home of Barcelona a wave of emotions came over me. Primarily excitement because I was starting a new chapter of my life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On the other hand I was slightly fearful as I had never been so far away from home, I was out of my comfort zone. I did not know what to expect, all I knew was that I was in a whole new place. A place with an array of opportunities to meet new people and explore. I believe it is a good thing to have an open mind when studying abroad. I would encourage study abroad students to not take the same route to school everyday, eat at the same cafe, or limit ones friendship group.

Breaking out of my comfort zone enabled me to see things in a new light. For instance, the main way to get around Barcelona is by subway. I had never taken the subway before coming here but I have come to the conclusion that the metro is much more exciting than the driving. I am able to take different routes and explore Barcelona with ease, it has also exposed me to an array of people I would have never met. Sometime I talk to the locals on the metro, it is intimidating to have a conversation with someone who does not speak the same language as you. However, the residents of Barcelona are always willing to teach non-locals new Spanish phrases.

Another area that took some adjusting was the local cuisine, the Spanish eat smaller meals than Americans. Although the portions are smaller in Spain they pack a lot of flavour into their dishes. I am a vegetarian and I have found it easy to keep up my diet. I have been able to try a variety of vegetarian dishes during my time here. However, I would also suggest trying new foods one would not normally eat. When else can you sample an authentic seafood paella?

The main thing I have come to learn during my time here is the friendships that have been made during my time studying abroad are to be treasured.  While, I have only been in Barcelona for three weeks, I know some of the friends I have made here will stick around for a lifetime.

Always keep in mind that studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make sure to seize all the opportunities that come your way. It is easy to stay in your comfort zone but you must break through that in order to learn and grow.

This content was contributed by Sabrina Medina, who is studying abroad this Spring on an AIFS Customized Faculty-Led program in Barcelona, Spain through the Southern California Foothills Consortium.

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