5 Ways Our Study Abroad Adventure Gave Us A Clearer Sense of Self
While growing up, we often thought of the globe as our toy. We remember spending hours spinning the globe with our eyes closed, and wherever our fingers landed on, was the place we would choose to learn about.
Studying abroad was a dream we were keen to make our reality. We majored in International Business in college which meant studying abroad is one of the requirements needed to graduate. Well, that was the excuse we used for our parents to let us go, but really, it was the perfect way to lock ourselves in an opportunity we wanted. We could write a memoir of the 7 months we spent abroad in Europe, but after giving it some real thought, here are the biggest personal takeaways our amazing experience gave to us and hopefully it’ll give to you.
We must say, being born as an identical twin attached to the hip wasn’t always the easiest thing. Growing up meant never being allowed to go anywhere separately, sharing a car, and sharing friends. Basically, we shared an identity. Going abroad was the first time in our lives we would be away from each other for more than a 24-hour time frame (which to say is A LOT for anyone that really knows us).
While Miranda was going to be studying French and business in Paris, I was going to be studying Spanish and business in Barcelona. Our initial thoughts freaked us out! Could we really do this? Was it going to be hard to make friends? Do I even mention I’m a twin when introducing myself?
We must admit, it was easier than we imagined it to be. With time came ease. We learned to solely rely on ourselves to navigate through the unknown cities, plan out our daily lives, and make friends as being one, not two. For most people that is the norm, but for us, it was a foreign concept…that we happened to like.
Similar to the cluster of languages used in Europe every day, these customs reminded us of growing up listening to the two different dialects of Spanish coming from our Mexican father and Salvadoran mother. However, hearing it in Spain was different than the Spanish I was familiar with. It sounded new and a lot more lispy – for anyone that has traveled to Spain knows what I’m talking about. My experience living in Spain was when I truly began to appreciate the Spanish language and the beautiful culture it is composed of. As for Miranda, no one in our family spoke French, so it became a daily part of her identity that none of us could relate to…especially me.
Meanwhile, we took the opportunities to travel all over Europe and coming across a myriad of different countries, cultures, and languages. It never ceased to amaze us that even in a short plan or train ride, you could be in a completely different country with different set of laws, language, tastes of food, and history. This became our norm as made it our goal to travel somewhere new every weekend. We got addicted to experiencing the cultural differences that existed within every particular European country and wanted to discover more. It was a gift to be able to roam the streets that have survived through wars, political movements, or as simple as tasting local food that could only be found in these places.
We mentally and physically prepared ourselves for our new lives in our 7-month time frame. This was key in our time abroad because the more adaptable we became, the less homesick we were.
Our apartments were tinier than our rooms combined back in the states. It was crazy to believe how many people could live in such tight, cluttered spaces! We didn’t have the luxury of being able to wash our clothes with our own washer, nor did we have a car to get somewhere. What we did have was a whole city filled with life within steps of our rooms, and the things we were without didn’t matter as much anymore. In any case, we are all capable of adapting to new environments if we truly wanted to.
Alright, enough of the serious stuff! Studying abroad was the greatest joy we had in our lives. If you want the best college experience you could have, study abroad!
Europe is every young 20-year old’s heaven. Almost every European country has a nightlife that lasts twice as long as our American one. There are lots of bars, restaurants, and with the drinking age set at 18, meant the drinking never stopped! You’re also meeting people from all over the world with easy access to travel to new countries for cheap prices.
Sure, we did the whole school thing, but our pure joy mixed with the crazy came from traveling all over Europe with our friends, getting lost in foreign countries with no English speakers around, and experiencing the nightlife that was unimaginable for any young adult in their 20’s.
Studying abroad gave us a handful of skills that are a necessity one must have when graduating from college and enter in the rhythm of life. These include self-navigation, handling crisis situations, and stepping out of comfort zones. It gave us the gift of understanding all walks of life, and how to respect other points of views that don’t necessarily align with our values.
Being able to learn and live the lifestyle we did for 7 months truly made it seem like a reality we could actually attain long-term. And for that, we have never felt more ambitious to travel somewhere new yearly while working as hard as we need to.
Professionally, studying abroad has helped us answer those typical “tell me about a time when something didn’t go right” interview questions. Personally, it has shaped the women that we are, as well as the women we want to become.
If you shared a similar experience, or have any questions about studying abroad comment below! We’d love to hear it and chat with you all.
The Twins of Travel