Feliz Año Nuevo amigos!
As I now come to the end of my time in Spain and prepare myself for the Italian Adventure, I have had time to really contemplate my year abroad thus far. I thought that it was time some little truths were told, ones which are usually left unsaid.
I think that many people underestimate how stressful a year abroad can actually be sometimes. There is this perception that because you’re in a foreign country with a sunny climate, fantastic food, beaches and more, you’re on this non-stop summer holiday for an entire year – yet that could not be further from the truth. 70% of the time, things are fantastic! You do enjoy what the year abroad has to offer, you go down to the beach, or into the centre of town, or out for tea, or for a mooch round the Chinese shops (there’s one for my friends in Spain), but there is also that 30% where you’re actually really just missing home and friends. Despite any perception on Facebook or Twitter, not everything is always what it seems. In my experience, this is especially true when you’re doing a work placement in a city which has no university or Erasmus students there who can act almost as ready-made people to hang out with. Don’t get me wrong, I do love living alone and the independence and freedom it gives me, but when you’re working from 8 until 5, Monday to Friday, it can be hard to find the time to go out and meet people. That isn’t to say that I haven’t made friends, because I have, but unfortunately not many are my age or live near me.
One thing that nobody prepares you for is workplace politics and surviving them. I won’t go as far as to say here what I have experienced so far, but it isn’t all sunshine and roses. It can be really difficult and put you in a position that you would rather not be in. You have to tell yourself that it could be a lot worse and that most of the time, you’re having a great time and are surrounded by good people. And if that fails, it’s only six months right? I certainly think that even just in these past 4 months, I have done a great deal of growing up, which can only be a positive thing. But when Sundays come around and everything is shut and you trawl through Facebook and Instagram seeing all your friends together or receive Snapchats of the Sunday Dinner preparations, it can be hard. Sunday is just one of those days where you’re left alone with just your thoughts. This has been echoed by so many of my dear friends also undertaking their year abroads. Whether you’re in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia (to name just a few), Sunday has become THE day when life at home is missed the most.
Of course, there is Monday to Saturday, when I fully appreciate that Spain is fantastic and I have loved it since the day I moved here when I was 9 years old. I walk five minutes down the road and I am on the beach, I live near some fantastic and not very expensive restaurants and the bus system will take me wherever I want to go!
At the end of the day, everything you do in life is an experience and doing a year abroad (so far) is one of the best experiences I have had. There are so many fun and wonderful things I am getting to do every day and I am incredibly lucky. So allow me this one post where I have a little moan. It’s not going to happen again. I promise. My outlook? Things can be good, things can be bad but HEY at least it will make a good blog post!
Hint for a year abroad – you don’t have to believe the hype, if it’s a bit pants it’s okay. Do believe it when people say it’s hard.