1. Walking – It was not unusual during my time abroad for me to check my health app and see that I had walked 10 miles that day. Some of this was an intentional attempt to make up for the lack of working out that I was doing – going to the gym was not anywhere near a top priority for me. But whether I was traveling on the weekends or spending the day exploring the streets of Barcelona, I was never sitting still. My life at home in the suburbs does not allow for that lifestyle (unless I want to walk 10 miles through the middle of nowhere.) But now, I instinctively find myself incorporating walking into my everyday life. Sometimes this means parking at the furthest spot from the store, and sometimes it’s walking to town rather than driving. Whatever it is, I find that increased level of activity to be a part of my day that I am unwilling to give up.
2. Keeping busy – At home, I’m more than used to hours of sitting on my living room couch, watching Netflix or going on Twitter and letting massive amounts of time escape me. Thankfully my homestay barely had Wifi, which encouraged me to go out and explore my new city. During the week I would do this by finding new coffee shops to study at or searching for new museums or attractions I had not yet seen. At 9:30 I would return home to eat dinner and charge my phone before a night out, which meant something different each time. Now that I’m home, I find myself being restless in the absence of activity and am always pushing people to get out and do something!
3. Journaling – My semester in Barcelona was the first time I’ve ever actually gone out of my way to consistently journal, without flaking, and filled up the whole thing! I think most people plan to journal during their time abroad, the important part is not to get lazy with it. It does not have the same effect if you journal once every two weeks and try to fill in the blanks. You can hit the highlights, but you won’t remember the little pieces that brought the whole thing together. Everyone has different writing strategies – I did not force myself to write every day. Some days I was just not in the mood or flat out exhausted. Some days were so eventful that writing them took almost as long as living them! But I never let it go more than two or three days, that’s when the little details would become forgotten. At the end of my program, I reread my journal from start to finish. Just that alone made my commitment to it worth it. I got to read how my semester unfolded, and I learned a lot about myself through my own words.
Miranda Lipton is a student at The Ohio State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.
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