Kristina Bjorksten is a student at the University of California, San Diego, and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Lima, Peru.
One thing people don’t tell you about studying abroad, especially in a country with a culture and language unlike your own, is that you are basically living in a constant state of embarrassment. Adapting is not always smooth sailing when everything changes, but these character-building experiences make study abroad all the more memorable. Some of these great moments you might experience abroad include:
1. Not understanding what somebody said to you so you just pretend they didn’t say it and walk away
2. Realizing what you said in class translates to something other than what you meant
3. Taking out several passengers when the bus races forwards then slams the brakes
4. Trying to go to the mall by your house and ending up at the ocean
5. Falling down a mountain, rolling down a sand dune, or sinking a canoe in the Amazon river
6. Having to repeat, explain, or spell your very confusing name
7. Walking into a Halloween weekend event being the only ones in costume
8. Dancing in public
9. When cashiers ask you questions you don’t know how to answer
10. Walking into a new gym in all your workout gear, asking to use the machines, then learning this gym is actually an equipment store.
As “estruggling” as it is sometimes, living and studying somewhere new is an opportunity to learn to laugh at yourself, and not to be afraid of new things. So speak that broken Spanish– soon enough it won’t be broken anymore. Hike that mountain; the view is worth it. Jump on that new bus– you will find your way home eventually. When you can take on the challenges of throwing yourself into a ten million-person Latin American city for four months, getting lost or getting embarrassed stops being an excuse to avoid challenges to come. ¡Sí se puede!