Lessons in Learning


Olivia Schmidt is a student at Westminster College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

I am a perfectionist. I know this and I have accepted this. I have been a straight A student pretty much my whole life. I knew that coming to Spain and studying in a different country would be difficult, but there is no way I could expect what was to come.

Midterms; they’re hard. At home I know what to expect while studying for each test, but here I felt less prepared. I am not sure if this is because of the language barrier or another reason, but I had a lot of difficulty studying for my midterms. I studied harder than I have ever studied for a single test in my life for my history midterm. I went in feeling prepared and confident. Well, I got my test back and I didn’t do too hot, not by any means and honestly, I freaked out. Now, a few days after my initial freak out, I am seeing things a bit clearer. This is what I have learned thus far:

  1. It is OKAY to do a little worse than what is normal. This is extremely tough for me to accept. But, I know that I am doing my absolute best. Someone asked me, “Did you do the best you could?” “Yes.” “Well, then that is all you could’ve done. That has to be good enough.” One semi-“bad” semester is not going to ruin me for life.
  2. It is OKAY to not fully understand every single thing. This is what makes you work harder. Not knowing absolutely everything that is said or not understanding every concept at first is what pushes you to do your best to understand it the next time around.
  3. How you come back form a set-back is what defines you; not the set-back itself. If I let this one bad grade discourage me from wanting to study my hardest and stop me from wanting to put in the effort, that is what will define me. I will have given up.
  4. Talking to your teachers face-to-face about your grades is the absolute best decision. I discussed my grades with two separate teachers. One gave me the option to rewrite my paper for the chance at a better grade, and the other bumped my grade up a point. You never know what will happen!
A quick coffee break while studying for midterms at Torch Coffee House.

I am studying in a foreign country where all of my classes are taught in a different language. It is expected to perform a little below my normal average. It is expected to have difficulty understanding people, concepts and even your classes. But what isn’t expected, is for you to pull through even stronger than before. This is what defines you.

“Failure happens to the best of us, but it is not in times of success that make people great. Greatness comes when you can keep moving after defeat, and then, through perseverance, proceed to achieve.” – Unknown.

The world awaits…discover it.

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