My name is Maria, I am 21 and from Spain. I am right now studying in San Diego, California for my bachelor degree and I am having one of the best years of my life!
Speaking about my life… here it comes!
Even if I consider myself Spanish, I am more a World’s citizen due, among other things, to the time I have spent in foreign countries as a student! Since my childhood I can say I have lived between three different cultures. My dad is Spanish, my mum is Hungarian. And I started my international immersion program with a scholarship in a French school in Bilbao, my hometown in Spain, when I was 5.
Because I have family abroad and thanks to all the holidays spent all around the world, I have always been in love with traveling and discovering new countries. Although, I started studying abroad when I was 16 in a boarding school in the South of France. I spent there 5 days a week and went back home for the weekend. That was a good way to start getting independent as I could still see my family and closest friends during the weekend.
But, the best thing to do, mainly if it is your first time, is going abroad along with some friends. That is how I started and it was amazing! At the beginning, it is not always easy to make new friends, so if you are with somebody you already know, you will be braver and you will consider everything easier to handle.
After two years in the boarding school, I graduated from high school and had the choice to go back to Bilbao or stay in France, a very important decision. My mum has always supported me and I thank her for that. In this case, she had a main role in the decision. She came to Spain when she was 21 (this was in 1981 and the economic and political was absolutely different) and finally stayed here, so she has always encouraged me to travel and be adventurous, while of course being responsible and careful.
I’ll allow myself to give you an advice: always listen to your family but weigh the pros and cons yourself as you will be the one going abroad! Anyway, I really encourage you to take a flight and go for it, even if it is a little bit scary in the beginning! I was scared too when I came to San Diego this year, even if it was not my first time abroad!
So as to continue with my globe-trotter life, I finally decided at the age of 18 to leave Spain behind and moved to Paris, this time on my own. No friends, no parents, nothing. Just me and my beloved walking shoes!
My first day at the business university, the nerves were killing me but I made it and I met people that were in the same situation as I was, so it was very encouraging!
You will always find people in the same situation you are, especially if you are going to an International school, university or campus. Nowadays, I am glad I went to the City of Love, even though I have not found it yet But I feel that it was the best decision I could ever have made.
Finally, 7 months ago I landed in San Diego with 16 other students from my University for a whole year. We were all frightened on that day, but if you ask me right now, I do not want to go back to Europe! Personally, one of the worst things of studying abroad is when you leave the country you went to. Even though you are happy because you are going to see your family and friends back home, it is very hard to leave your lifestyle, your new friends and the little culture differences you could laugh about when living there…
Anyway, you will go somewhere else and everything will start again!