ISEP student Jessica J. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a Spanish literature, culture and translation major from Kent State University, and is currently studying abroad at Universidad de Almería in Spain.
Throughout the past few weeks living abroad, I have had the wonderful opportunity to explore Spain and travel around other parts of Europe. These travels have opened my eyes to the world around me, and made me realize how much I still have yet to see. These travels have also helped me figure out who I am, and what kind of person I want to be.
The first time reality sunk in for me was in the small town of Alicante, Spain.
I grabbed a few of my close friends and we took a day trip to Alicante. While we were there, we hiked to the top of the Castillo de Alicante and the view was absolutely indescribable. In Spain there are less measures taken for precaution, which means they don’t have “no climbing” or “danger” signs on the top of the castle. I took this as an invitation to sit on the edge of the tower and overlook the city - talk about exhilarating. My breath was taken away, and the reality sunk in that I was thousands of miles away from my home in Ohio. I was living my dream. I was exploring the world on my own, and I was taking risks. I mean, I was dangling my legs off the top of a castle! What’s more risky than that? (Sorry mom and dad).
Old me (Jessica from a few months ago) would have never been confident enough to explore. She was barely confident enough to meet new people. She was shy and overly cautious. She stayed inside her apartment and ran away at any sign of human interaction. Thinking about moving abroad gave her terrible anxiety, and there were multiple times she questioned whether or not she should cancel her trip. The new Jessica, the new me doesn’t just simply exist anymore, the new me is alive.
I feel like I’m living in a dream. I’m taking chances, I’m meeting new people, I’m making friends and I’m forcing myself to live.
I have made a variety of friends, all of whom I love dearly. They inspire me to be a better version of my old self. They inspire me to be my own, unique individual, which is something I never had the confidence to do before. They love me for who I am, and around them I don’t have to pretend to be someone else just so I can fit in. That’s the amazing thing about studying abroad.
I no longer run away at signs of interaction, I go looking for it. I no longer spend entire days in my bed watching Netflix, I grab some friends and spend all day on the beach. I no longer sit on the sidelines and watch people having fun, I participate. It may seem like nothing, but to me it’s everything. I feel like I’m finally finding myself. Maybe that’s cliche, and maybe I’m just young and naive, but I finally feel happy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was happy living in the United States. I have great friends and family who support my dreams (my parents are the reason I am able to have this amazing opportunity) and I am forever grateful, but here I feel like I’m living for myself. I don’t make decisions based on what I think other people would want me to do, I make decisions based on what would make me happy. I’m creating my own beliefs, opinions and feelings. I feel important, and I feel like there’s more purpose to my life.
Even though I have only been here for a few months, traveling has opened my eyes. I have experienced different cultures, religions and beliefs. It has helped me to bridge the gaps between unfamiliar cultures and has helped me gain true knowledge of the world that I could have never learned in a classroom. I’ve experienced so much in so little time, and I’ve witnessed firsthand how traveling can bring people together. It creates an environment that paves the way for acceptance and understanding. It truly is a beautiful thing. And for me, it’s only the beginning.
So, with my new-found confidence and appreciation for the world around me, I am going to take on the world.
Are you ready for your own adventure? See all of your study abroad options on the ISEP website.
Want to see more from our ISEP bloggers? Learn more about our ISEP Voices Spring 2016 group.
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