Choosing which classes to take has always been an exciting puzzle for me. I find joy in navigating what classes are mandatory, which I can take for fun, which have overlapping times, until I create for myself a schedule that is balanced with classes I love. It is my expertise that has not failed me until this semester. As a part of my study abroad program, I had the option to take classes either at CIEE’s own study center or at the University of Seville through their Cursos Concertados program exclusively for American students. Looking closely at all the options presented to me, I settled on four classes offered by Cursos Concertados: Teaching English to Spanish students, The Social Psychology of Language Learning, Spanish Literary Myths and Painting Literary Seville. These four appeared to be the perfect balance of my interests, and I was ready to start feeling the full experience of studying abroad.
During the first two weeks of classes, I quickly realized that perhaps my expectations had been set a bit too high. As a native Spanish speaker, I didn’t anticipate how it would feel to be surrounded by others who didn’t have the same level of proficiency as I do, and how this would affect the way professors treated the class collectively. What I thought would be a semester of language learning inside the classroom ended up quickly turning into a semester of slow, monotone lectures that hindered my ability to stay engaged. While my friends who were taking classes at the study center talked about how interesting their classes were and how much they were learning in their courses, I felt suddenly as if I had made a mistake, and I felt trapped in courses that weren’t providing me the mental stimulation that I was so used to while at my home institution.
It is taking a lot of self reflection to fully process why I have had such strong feelings of disappointment and how to handle these. I gradually came to the realization that my school experience has gone from drowning in piles of work to having little to no homework, and all of this spare time made me feel unbalanced and unproductive with no motivation to get anything done. For the past two and a half, possibly three years, my work-life balance has not been benefitting my health, and this is now an opportunity to readjust and prioritize my happiness. Before then, I was so unhappy with a class that I had wanted to drop out, but I am determined to reignite my interest in this subject and remember why I want to pursue a career related to the field. It is okay to feel tired and to recharge, but I will not allow myself to give up or linger in regret due to my expectations not being met.
As I am reaching the halfway point of my study abroad experience and preparing for my midterms, I am finally feeling a sense of determination to get through the second half of the semester and no longer let the experience slowly trickle by me. I only have two months left to make the experience worth it and enjoy it to the max, and I am finally ready to do so.