Drawing Parallells: How walking 70 miles is kind of like studying abroad.
I recently spent five days walking through the gorgeous greenery of Northern Spain, with vaseline filled socks, an open mind, and the ever present thought at the back of my mind of "what the hell am I doing?" This is, more or less (mostly less when it comes to vaseline socks, but I guess this varies from person to person), what studying abroad is like.
I'll spare you the finer points of the journey, known as Camino de Santiago, because I could go on for way too long about just how awesome it was. I'll get right to the important stuff here: the striking similarities between my 70 mile stroll and the overall experience of studying abroad.
I assume you are reading this because you are contemplating the vast endeavor of studying in another country. And I assume that I am writing this to help you out with that decision. So here. Here is my figurative hand, outstretched to aid you in figuring things out.
Both the Camino and Studying Abroad are difficult to capture with concise words. They're both experiences that remove you from your comfort zone (I mean, really, when's the last time you walked for 5 days straight?). At times they're difficult (do you have any idea how hard it is to communicate in another language? There's a fine balance between trying not to sound like you've just recently attempted a lobotomy on yourself and trying to say what you're trying to say) and the easy thing to do is just quit. But listen man. In the end, despite the second guessing thoughts of "what the eff is this" and despite an uncomfortable situation here or there and missing certain comforts (peanut butter), somewhere along the journey everything just clicks. You feel empowered, self-reliant, and (no BS here) you are a better person for having done it. If you're not, something went wrong.
I'm doing my best to not sound too cheesey here, while making a point by comparing two things I've been involved with...but I'm worried I'm making less sense as I go. This is what happens when you try to think after the feast that is a Spanish meal.
Alright, here: Studying Abroad is incredible. Alicante is incredible. The Camino de Santiago is incredible. But these journeys are not easy ones. They're filled with misunderstandings, perhaps some figurative blisters here or there (figurative vaseline in your figurative socks helps with this), and a whole lot of adjusting to new circumstances. But when all is said and done, hot damn. It's something you'll never regret.