This week has gone by so fast! Just a few hours ago I returned to Madrid from spring break! It is a bittersweet feeling knowing that in less than a month I must say goodbye to this beautiful city. Over the past week, I got the chance to reflect on my experiences and lessons that I have learned during these past three months.
My friends and I talked about the inevitability of people changing during their study abroad. I came to realize my own personal growth. Studying abroad came at such a crucial time because it brought me out of my comfort zone. Unlike some of my high school friends, I stayed in-state for college. For a while, I felt trapped with the same people and mindset. One of the reasons I decided to study abroad, even if it meant I was to do it all alone, was that I needed a new perspective. I vividly remembered meeting some of the people in my cohort at Heathrow Airport and how nervous I was to be all alone. Looking back, I am so glad I took a leap of faith and began this journey by myself.
Adapting to the Spanish way of life and thinking helped me see how stressful my life was. It opened my eyes to another possibility of achieving my dreams without losing my passion for it.
During this past week alone, I realized how my perspective on myself has shifted. One of the things that have changed is the way I treat and view myself. Putting constant pressure on myself and on things I have no control of was a terrible habit of mine. The need to succeed and doubts about my academic future are always on my mind. Both are the drive behind my achievements but has also been something that I would stress out and lose sleep over.
Adapting to the Spanish way of life and thinking helped me see how stressful my life was. It opened my eyes to another possibility of achieving my dreams without losing my passion for it. Taking a step back and reassessing what was good and bad for me was necessary. Certain things that would have bothered me in the past no longer mattered as I realized how small of an impact it has on me.
In addition to my self-reflection, I was lucky enough to travel to five different countries this past week. What started out as a wish to visit Italy turned out to be a memorable trip including many layovers and early mornings. After Venice, we took the train to Rome and were able to travel through the cities in-between our destination. Italy would have not been the same without any pasta, gelato, pizza, or tiramisu. I can indeed confirm that nothing tastes better than eating pasta in Italy! I was also extremely blessed to have visited the Vatican City during the Holy Week. Seeing the Sistine Chapel in person was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Our third country was Santorini Greece! I must say everything here felt like a dream that I never wanted to wake up from! Seeing something as simple as the blue domes and white-washed houses did not even feel real. Aside from visiting Italy and Greece, we also traveled to Hungary and Portugal during our layovers to Madrid. It was not the most convenient plan to have such long layovers but to be able to visit more than two countries is better than nothing.
This spring break was more than I could have ever asked for, I feel so blessed and fortunate enough to not only study abroad in Madrid but to see different countries and learn about their cultures while discovering myself.
Lisa Ly is a University of Nevada, Las Vegas student. She is currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain for the Spring 2019 semester. Lisa is a recipient of the Fund for Education Abroad scholarships and this article originally appeared on the FEA blog.