Living in Valencia these past two months has not poised challenges that have been too difficult; however, I believe that when anyone leaves home for an extended period of time there is always something that that person will need to overcome, whether it be making new friends, getting used to a different atmosphere or in my case the communication barrier. Among getting used to a new class schedule and living with a new family that is not my own, I would say communicating in Spanish has been the most challenging aspect of studying abroad.
I’ve learned to overcome this challenge by simply being confident and not being afraid to make mistakes. When communicating with someone in a different language, I have figured out that if someone doesn’t understand what I am saying, then I just simply need to find a different way to say what I was trying to express. Classic problem solving.
I am finding that learning and practicing a different language is actually quite fascinating, and it’s such a great feeling to be able to understand and communicate back to a person and have that person be able to understand you. This new-found fascination makes me want to actually stay in Spain longer to continue practicing and speaking Spanish before returning to the U.S.
In addition to the language barrier, getting used to a different atmosphere was the second most challenging aspect of studying abroad. Because I wasn’t used to how things work in Spain (for example, going into supermarkets and paying with different currency and having everyone speak Spanish everywhere I went) it made practicing the language a little scary; however, you just have to take the plunge and use what you know in certain situations. When you just jump in to the new language and culture, your experience just keeps getting better.
The challenges of studying abroad are everywhere, but if you just get out there and overcome them, you will only continue to grow!