Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Notes from Abroad: Rolling with the punches

Wednesday, March 30, 2022
The friends who introduced me to the school I am currently attending stand next to me on the beach the day I decided to make a change in plans.

I have heard from many Europeans that Americans are seen as “overly-polite.” I believe this stems from a people-pleasing mindset.

Many people I know — myself included — act in ways that prioritize other people’s comfort. We stray away from making decisions or taking actions that would make others feel uneasy. In this process, we lose sight of our own wants and needs.

It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of the people in your life and not wanting to disappoint. But how often do the expectations of others actually align with your own individual path?

Last month, I dropped out of the school that had originally brought me to Barcelona and transferred to a different school, instead.

It was extremely uncomfortable to be alone in another country and have absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I wasn’t following my truest purpose, and I needed to make a decision — one that may have worried my people back at home.

During my last few months in Cape before moving, I received many reassuring and motivating words from my friends and family. The phrase I heard the most had to be, “You are going to grow and change so much during this experience.”

I find myself overanalyzing what this growth may look like and how it will manifest into my own life. My perspective of this changes everyday, but as of now, I believe my most prominent growing point during this experience was actually the opposite of what I was “expected” to do

I didn’t come here for anybody other than myself, and I certainly didn’t move my entire life across the world to stay in a situation I knew wasn’t the best option for me personally.

I originally came to Barcelona to study business management. It was the most logical option at the time because I wanted to choose a minor that I could start and complete while abroad, and business management was one of only two options for a school in Spain. However, it wasn’t something that aligned with my interests and skills, and unfortunately, I was having a hard time enjoying the school itself.

I am now studying at a Spanish language school in hopes to finish a Spanish minor during my semester here and pursue a skill I believe will add more value and opportunity to my life. I am communicating with locals, learning so much about the Spanish culture and feeling supported by teachers and students I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

My situation may be much different from the average exchange student, but that’s what I believe the study abroad program is all about. It’s about adapting and becoming more familiar with yourself and your own needs. When you are thousands of miles away from home, you’ve got to have your own back. The only people-pleasing that should be done is for you, yourself.