“Studying abroad es como un Kit Kat.” ISA staff member, Julio said this to us on our first day of orientation. He explained that studying abroad is like a Kit Kat break from real life. And after my first two weeks in Madrid, I agree. I keep thinking to myself, “this definitely cannot be real life.” That has been my mantra for the past two weeks whenever I see a beautiful monument, work of art, or eat a huge tapas plate. I doubt if this is actually happening. I don’t know when or if it is going to sink in that this is home for five months. Until then, I’m enjoying the Kit Kat break.
Even school feels like a break from reality. I genuinely enjoy going to my Spanish classes. I’m far less stressed out about academics than I would be at my American college, maybe because I haven’t yet written a paper. However, I also feel I’ve learned more in these two weeks than I would have in a semester at my home college. Not to knock my college back home, it’s just that learning comes much more easily here. Being surrounded by Spanish culture, I don’t need to make as much of a conscious effort, so the entire learning experience feel like a vacation.
The fact that I can travel while going to school has also been incredibly surreal. I spent last weekend in Brussels, Belgium. Last month, I would have never expected to see myself in Belgium, but I’m so happy I went. I saw a part of the world I never would have otherwise had the opportunity to visit. I’ve also started planning some upcoming trips to Italy, Greece, France, and around Spain. In “real life,” I could never go visit another country during the school year, especially for a weekend trip. But in this crazy Kit Kat that is the next five months, it’s both doable and encouraged.
On social media, when I read about people posting on their homework, roommates, jobs, TV shows, snow, car troubles, drama, and graduation, it’s strange to think that I have a semester break without having to deal with these things. I know all of those things will still be waiting for me when I get back. Although for now, I’m taking a break from the reality that is waiting for me back in the States. They say the excitement of being in a new place will wear off and I’ll hit a homesick slump. As of now, I don’t foresee that happening, but if it does, I just have to remember I’ll finish this Kit Kat soon. So I have to savor this delicious adventure while I can.