“Study” Abroad

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Time management is a difficult skill to embody even in one’s natural environment. It can be overwhelming having to balance academic, professional, and personal needs at once. Studying abroad is the ultimate test of one’s ability to balance these life components. Since I arrived in Spain, it has been impossible to maintain the same level of productivity as I would back home. Getting acclimated to a new environment required a lot of time and energy. I’ve spent more time accomplishing tasks as the way of life is unfamiliar. On top of that, I’ve been occupied with immersing myself in the culture and traveling with my new friends.

Also, it doesn’t help that the Spanish lifestyle is more relaxed. The workdays are shorter, and people take a “siesta” or afternoon nap. In the academic realm, it isn’t common for students to study throughout the semester but instead, students tend to cram during finals week. This is attributed to the fact that professors assign less work throughout the semester and put a higher weight on final exams. It was very easy for me to assimilate to this way of studying because I had so many other things to do. I knew this type of studying would not be efficient for me. I was not in the same situation as all of the other students. I was in a new environment, learning in a distinct language which ultimately requires more time and effort to gain the same knowledge. Thus, I began dedicating more time to revising my notes and assessing my comprehension of the course materials. Completing assignments takes me longer than usual as I have to translate the information and dedicate more time to simple things such as grammar. Having all of this in mind, I knew I needed to organize my time more efficiently.

Luckily, I was able to recognize my negligence and reassess my priorities before adversities arose. I disciplined myself by laying out my academic responsibilities and planning my trips accordingly. I began governing my life so that my academic performance would not fall on the back burner. For instance, I prioritized school during the week and multitasked as much as possible. Adopting this habit has allowed me to minimize the amount of schoolwork I tend to do on the weekends, thus allowing me to travel freely. Because burnout from traveling is a thing, I began alternating the weeks I travel. In turn, this balance has allowed me to dedicate more time to my studies and exploring Madrid. Finding this balance was not easy, and I still haven’t perfected it, but I feel like my life has more structure than when I arrived here. Acclimating to a new environment is the ultimate test of adaptability among other life and professional skills. It is challenging to navigate but it’s rewarding when you finally succeed. Because workplaces are dynamic, I am sure that this skill will be useful throughout my professional career. Seeking discomfort is the ultimate way to grow as an individual.