I Lived Alone in Spain for a Month and This Is What I Learned
Recently, I had a chance to spend a month away from home, attending a summer academic program in Salamanca, Spain. I lived in a residence with forty other students I didn't know, immersed in a language I was hoping to learn. Unlike many of the other kids, I wasn't loud or outgoing, and I didn't make friends as quickly as I hoped I would. The month got off to a very rocky start, but by the end of the fourth week, I found myself wishing that I could stay longer. The five things, besides Spanish, that I learned during my month abroad are:
- Don't be afraid to be alone.
For the first week of my month abroad, I felt as though I constantly had to be with someone else in order to go anywhere. Salamanca, being mostly a student and university town, is relatively safe for walking, but I kept thinking, what if my classmates saw me alone? I'd look like a loser who couldn't make friends at a program of only forty people. Despite my yearning to get out and explore, I locked myself in my dorm with my books, letting long days wither away.
Finally, I'd had enough of the inside of my dorm, gathered my things and walked out to the Plaza Mayor, chin up and walking like I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going. That first time out was liberating. I could stare as long as I wanted at the buildings, duck into any shop, and walk at my own pace. And while I do love and miss the friends I eventually made, those solitary walks around Salamanca were some of the best parts of my month.
- Seize the moment.
There were times during the month where I stopped myself from doing certain things such as climbing cathedral towers or going out for tapas simply because I didn't feel like it. In the end, I realized that I felt more regret for not doing something
- Money is best spent on experiences and food.
When I came home, the material things I bought like clothes and trinkets instantly disappeared on my shelves, in drawers, and in my closet. They suddenly didn't feel as important as they had in my near empty, simplistic dorm. What I treasure the most are the experiences I had, memories I made, and exotic meals I got to enjoy.
Before this program, I never really experienced living alone, away from my protective parents. Here, I learned how to take care of myself—to keep track of supplies I needed to buy and when, and how to manage my own time and money. I was the only one looking out for myself, and I think learned how to do it well.
- Keep an open mind, even when things aren't going the way you want.
The first week of my program was one of the hardest weeks, emotionally, that I had ever experienced. Back home, my sick grandmother just passed away. I longed to be with family and familiar places. I was lost and beginning to lose all hope, so I shut myself off. After a number of Skype calls and encouragement, I learned that I could be in control of any negativity and sadness that I was feeling. It was hard to stay positive all the time, but I pushed myself and, in the end, I realized that beyond all my pessimistic assumptions about how the month was going to go was an empowering experience I'll treasure for years to come.
Would you live away from home if you could?
What're you up to today? Submit your OOTD, fanfic, essay, school project, org event, a pic of your latest hobby, or anything you want to be posted on the Candy Bulletin page!
I've been investing in arts, photography, and writing. I've also got back to reading the other day and I finished reading this amazing book entitled 300 Things I Hope by Iain S. Thomas. It is all about the things the author hopes his readers to do in all aspects of life. So, I decided to make a version of it with all of the things I'm hoping for.
I hope I get to see my friends be successful in life. I hope to make a big mural someday. I hope to be a well-known artist like the artists I look up to. I hope to marry the person I am in love with today. I hope to be a little kinder to myself. I hope to see happiness even in the smallest things. I hope to travel the world. I hope to be a good mother and a wife to my future family. I hope to have my artworks displayed in a gallery or an exhibit. I hope to learn more about creative writing. I hope I won't learn how to get tired and give up my passion. I hope I won't get too hard on myself whenever I don't get the results I've been wanting to see in my works. I hope to love myself more even on the days I hate it the most. I hope to lead and empower women; to be their voice and for them to believe in themselves that they can be the woman they look up to. And when I've reached my limit of these things, I hope I won't get tired of reminding myself that my emotions don't make me weak, hence, makes me stronger. These are some of the things I always hope for. What about you? What are you hoping for?
I started fixing myself this quarantine. I mean, I started trying makeup products. As a teen, I'm on my phone almost every hour of the day, scroll on my social media accounts, especially Instagram, and also Pinterest where you get to see nice and pleasing photography by bunch of amazing and beautiful people from different parts of the world. So I started taking my own as well. I did not know that taking your own photo and try to get an Instagramable one is sooooooooo hard, it's exhausting. I do not have alot of space in my room, and I would definitely not do it outside our house because of Corona Virus, and I don't want to be seen by our neighbors HAHA so I have no choice but to make tiis inside my room.
Out of atleast 25 shots, only 2 are a nice picture. While I'm all sweaty and tired, I am proud of what I could do beyond my comfort zone. And this definitely built my self confidence, (and I secret love the compliments I received from both people I know and don't know) It's not my first time visiting in here, Candy! But I'm new to writing my thoughts and experiences, so bare with me HAHA.
Until next time!
First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.
The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.
There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.