What To Expect When You’re Expecting

For most people, being provided the opportunity to study abroad incites a strong sense of excitement. You get to venture out into the world and experience things you never thought possible, immerse yourself into a new culture, and interact with people from a different country.

When I found out that I was accepted into my school’s study abroad program, I was overjoyed. My original program was designed to take place in Sydney, Australia. As we all know, COVID had other plans for everyone. Since Sydney still had its borders closed, my program abroad was changed to be hosted in Valencia, Spain.

Of course, I was apprehensive about this change, because I didn’t know any Spanish or much about Spain at all. I didn’t know what to expect, so I decided to do a little bit of research about the place I would be spending three months of my life. From my time being a detective, I discovered that Valencia was very warm, full of friendly people, and very easy to get around. Newly armed with this information, my hesitations quickly subsided. After a few months, it was finally time for me to board my plane to begin my adventure.

When I arrived, I was absolutely stunned by Valencia and its landscape. From its intricate architecture, bloomed orange trees everywhere, to its welcoming atmosphere, I was completely in love–until the nighttime came. The clock struck 8:00pm and the Valencia weather gave me a rather cold embrace. It was not what I was expecting at all. I quickly realized I did not pack accordingly. I put stuff in my suitcases that were perfect for a summer getaway, not a cruel winter. On the bright side, the next day I got to run into a Pull & Bear and purchase a cute jacket.

While I loved everything I was seeing in Valencia, I initially missed how things were back in the United States. I understood the language there, knew when stores would be open, and had a group of friends just a ten minute car ride away. I didn’t know what to fully expect in Spain, but I knew what I was getting wasn’t it.

It has now been three weeks since I arrived and I am adjusting to life in Valencia beautifully. I have tried tasty new foods such as arepas and tapas, gone clubbing a few times, and made friends with my study abroad group. Now, I am more excited than ever to continue my journey here.

My advice to those who are thinking about studying abroad is to make like Nike, and just do it. So far, this has been one of the best experiences of my entire life. Don’t let your fears hold you back. Have some expectations, but expect them to alter once you arrive. Be open minded. Finally, be sure to check the weather on some accurate websites before you arrive so you will be able to pack accordingly.

Aubrey Caster is a college student at University of Tennessee Knoxville. He is an ISA Identity & Inclusion Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

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