Overcoming Fear: It's Only the Beginning

October 26, 2016

Studying abroad can be a scary thing. Many people hesitate to study abroad because they fear change or they fear being in a place where they don’t know anyone. However, fear is only an emotion, and just like any other emotion, it comes and goes. My favorite author, James Frey, said, “When one lives without fear, one cannot be broken. When one lives with fear, one is broken before one begins to live.” I love this quote and I think it’s a great quote to live by. Also, if you’ve never read James Frey, check him out.

The first few weeks of living in a new country can be the most difficult. After packing up all of my belongings into my car and getting on a plane to Kentucky, I began to freak out. All I could think was, “what am I doing? I can’t leave home for this long!” and I cried in the airport in Las Vegas, then on the plane and again once I got there. A few days with my friends and family in Kentucky helped calm my nerves and I was still scared, but also excited. I spent three months in Portugal before I came to study abroad in Spain and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t want to leave Lisbon because I’d gotten so used to calling it my home over the past three months. Once again, I started to freak out; I was moving to another new city where I didn’t know anyone. I had to leave my comfortable little studio in the heart of a city I loved so much.

I arrived in Murcia, Spain at the beginning of September after a 15 hour bus ride from Lisbon. I was exhausted, hungry and a bit lost. I took a taxi to my new apartment which was located in the center of the city across from a park. It was on the third floor and of course, there was not an elevator and I had two heavy bags. My flatmate helped me get into the building and drag all my things up the stairs. She showed the place to me and let me pick between two different rooms and then she left for work. I immediately started crying after she left. I hated the apartment, it was dirty, old, hot, my bed was terrible and the shower was tiny. I spent five days there before I left and moved to a different place. Thinking about living in that place for five months made me want to cry. If I was going to be happy here, I needed to be comfortable in my own home. I found a great place located a bit further away from the center, but it is much nicer with air conditioning, a huge shower and a much nicer bed.

My first few days in Murcia were not great. I spent most of my time crying and wanting to go home. I was questioning why I even came in the first place and wishing I could just go back to California. However, I met some people from the city and some other international students. One friend I made from the city showed me the Cathedral here in Murcia and it took my breath away. The city is beautiful with amazing architecture and beautiful mountains in the background. I met a girl from North Carolina who had also had a rough start. We grabbed lunch together, then dinner the same day. I had just met her, but I was so lucky I had her as a friend. After two weeks here, I am happy and I have made a handful of new friends. I am looking forward to this semester and I know I will be sad to leave once the time comes. The first few days may not be the best, but overall, the experience is something you’ll never forget. I was scared and sad at first, but now I am happy and excited to live in this city for the next few months. Fear had washed over me when I arrived here and it broke me before I had the chance to really live. Now, without fear, I cannot be broken. Never hesitate to step outside your comfort zone. Good things will come, it just takes a few tears and patience. Things have to get bad before they get good. This world is a beautiful place and I am so lucky that I am able to experience the beauty it has to offer. Cheers to a great semester abroad.

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