What to Expect on your first day: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 14, 2014..
By Lucie Levine, Barcelona Intern
When I arrived in Barcelona, I was jet-lagged, confused, anxious, nervous, and pretty much terrified. I didn’t have many expectations; I guess I had basic ones – to travel, make friends, and, obviously, study. I wish I had known what I know now: the first week is hard. All of my friends who had previously gone abroad told me this, but I don’t think I understand what they meant. This is the good, the bad, and the ugly of your first week.
The nerves: The first week is really hard, and most everyone knows that. Unless you have the privilege of traveling with someone that you already know (even though maybe going alone is better….) or are in a program, chances are you are nervous about traveling to a new place alone. My first week, I was constantly terrified and anxious, but I kept reminding myself: you are abroad; you want this; you will make of it what you want! I understand that you may not speak the language where you are, may not know the metro system, or may not know anyone, but you are abroad! Learn some key phrases to help in your city, or even start learning the language beforehand. Don’t be afraid to look confused and staring at the metro map; even locals have to do it sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And when it comes to meeting people, whether it be in your classes, at your orientation, where you are living, or where you go out for dinner or drinks, ask questions! People naturally love talking about themselves, so when you ask questions it is very easy to get to know a person. Not many people get this opportunity, so live it to the fullest. Try your best to remain positive and optimistic. Get rid of the expectations, like I did, and everything will fall into place. You may just end up having the best experience that you never expected.
Jet lag: it happens to all of us! There are many ways to get past it, but my favorite is this. I sleep on the plane; I make sure to pack my eye mask and over-the-ear headphones. I recommend the Sony headphones; they get amazing reviews, and they won’t hurt your wallet. After arrival, I take just a thirty-minute nap to refresh myself and get through the day. I make sure to stay awake during the day and only fall asleep when it is actually nighttime that way when I wake up the next morning I don’t feel as if I lost a day. Jet lag can take a few days to pass, which is natural; hopefully, this way will help you get through it.
Being abroad: well, you are abroad, aren’t you?! What is more amazing than that? The fact that you are here and able to do what you want and what you have worked hard for should be the most exciting thing for you in this transition time. You are going to encounter the nerves, the jet lag, maybe some homesickness, but you have the privilege of being abroad! When you encounter your nerves and overcome them, you are going to realize how beautiful the culture is, how you can begin to understand the language, and how lively the people are. There’s nothing more fantastic than being abroad.
I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014
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