Diana Aponte is a student at The College of St. Rose and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Madrid, Spain.
“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.