Before I left for my experience abroad, a family friend shared his biggest piece of advice to carry with me on my journey. What was that single statement that I am now passing on to you? Make a friend. “Make a friend” sounds simple, but being abroad and surrounded by unfamiliar things and a new language, having that one friend will make all of the difference. For me, I have bonded with quite a few people in my ISA intern group, and I know they will be friends for a lifetime.
When I first arrived in Spain and got off the plane for the airport pickup, I met part of my group. The combination of a new place, new people, and jet lag made it… awkward, to say the least. I thought to myself, “Wow this group of people could not have more different personalities. How are we ever going to bond and be together for 8 weeks?” That night, after settling in a bit, we all went out and sat around a big table at a restaurant and got to know each other. I soon realized that these were some cool people and our differing backgrounds and interests really made things interesting and fresh. I think the main force that brought us together was the fact that we were all in the same situation: in a foreign country without our normal places to go and people to be with, but we all were excited and hopeful for this upcoming adventure.
I quickly learned how fun it is to travel to new places with your friends. Even though I had known these people for a week, we found ourselves planning trips together all over Spain and Europe. These little weekend getaways have drawn us that much closer as we continue to learn more about each other and have a great time. It’s more than these weekend trips though. When I come home from my internship site each day, I text my friends and go hang out with them. Something as simple as going to the park, a coffee shop, or to the beach with each other has provided me with some of my favorite moments and laughs during my time abroad.
The premise of this post was straightforward, make a friend (or friends) while abroad. Get to know the people in your group and spend time with them exploring or just hanging out. You only get this time once. Like me, you may arrive a bit nervous about this, but as I said, everyone else in your group is in the same situation. Have fun with your new friends, they will make your time abroad that much better! Now, I’ve got to go meet some of my friends in the park…
Jessica Doublesin is a student at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and studied abroad with ISA Internships in Valencia, Spain.
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