Learning abroad has taught me much more than I could’ve learned at home in Canada. Here are four things I’ve learned while studying abroad in Spain:
- Sometimes It’s Better To Listen Than To Speak
In Canada, it’s not uncommon for my friends and I to get into a political conversation about the pressing issues that our world is facing today. We talk about racism, colorism, misogyny and more. Although we may disagree on the solutions to certain issues, there’s little debate that there are varying degrees of privileges in our world.
In Spain, however, I’ve found myself having to learn to bite my tongue. There are people who just don’t understand the political issues (like racism, colorism, and genderism) that I fight so hard for. While this has been something that was difficult to learn, I’ve learned to have patience with others and to be more willing to educate others.
2) Budgeting Isn’t Optional – It Could Truly Be A Lifesaver
I’ve downloaded money-saving apps like Mint and Spendee, but I’ve truly never had much luck setting financial goals and keeping to them. However, I recently had a life-changing conversation with a friend about this. She mentioned how using Google spreadsheets budget trackers has helped her plan out the next decade of her life, including how much she needs to save from now until 2027 to buy her first house (before the age of 28!).
The thought of someone my age (!!!!) being able to plan out her financial spending so thoroughly was mind-blowing. I’ve never imagined being able to maintain so much control over my money, although now I’ve realized that it is certainly possible. As a result, I finally sat down this month and listed all my expenses, my income and created a plan for how I can begin to save and achieve future financial goals.
3) I Am Capable Of So Much More Than I Thought
This year, I started an online publication for black women, called Sorella Magazine. I launched the magazine the same day as my flight to Madrid and have been juggling the challenges of entrepreneurship with the heavy workload of school. Successfully practicing time management is one of the things I’m most proud of this year.
The fact that I’ve been setting professional goals for my publication (and consistently meeting those goals), makes me feel so much more capable in other aspects of my life. It’s shocking to know that I can actually trust myself to post a certain number of articles per week and to complete all my homework assignments and meet my professors during their office hours.
4) Academics Aren’t Everything
Don’t get me wrong, school is incredibly important. Most people would agree with that statement, and they’d probably be right. However, school is not even close to everything and although I’m a student, I’ve found that it isn’t healthy to place my academic achievements at the forefront of my life and identity.
The academic environment in my exchange university is competitive, but here, students ultimately prioritize their mental health, their families, friends and hobbies, well before their schooling. This was a surprising discovery and it taught me that I don’t need a 4.0 GPA to tell me that I’m intelligent, capable or worthy of success. My other interests are just as crucial to my identity.