One phrase that will always remind me of my dad is ‘the highs and lows’. As a Liverpool football fan, after every depressing defeat he would always say ‘oh the highs and lows of football’ but it is a phrase that can be applied in almost any situation. While the stereotype of a forever partying Erasmus student contains some truth, it is important to acknowledge that along with the highs of studying abroad there are always going to be lows. I say this not to put anyone off an Erasmus year, but to serve as a comfort to anyone who is struggling and thinking that they should be having fun all the time. Believe me, I have tried, and it is not possible! The important thing to remember is that it is completely normal not to be enjoying your year abroad all the time, and to have days when you just want to be back at home on the sofa watching Netflix with your dog.
Here are some of the things I have struggled with whilst being in Granada:
- Understanding the language (or lack of
understanding in my case!)
- The location of Granada in Spain brings with it the Andalusian accent, which is an accent where all words seem to morph into others and all ‘s’s are made redundant. Therefore, this makes understanding what is going even more difficult! This lack of understanding can be really frustrating, especially after a month when I had hoped to be completely fluent, which I now realise was a little unrealistic! However, I have grasped the idea that it is okay not to understand everything and it is important to enjoy the little victories, like asking for directions and even better understanding the response!
- Missing friends and family
- I get fomo when I miss just one night out, so it has been hard being far away from everyone and seeing snapchats on Thursday morning of the night before. It is so important to keep in contact with friends and family to prevent you from feeling isolated and completely cut off from them. It is amazing what one facetime to my mum or a friend can make. I have also sent postcards home just to make sure they don’t forget about me!
- Tiredness is inevitable, especially in a country where they eat dinner at 10 and go out at 2am. One of the things I have loved about my year abroad is how everyone is constantly doing things, so I have found that I am rarely on my own. However, socialising can be tiring, so I have found it so important to have lazy days every now and again just to catch up with sleep and of course 30 episodes of The Office.
- The university here is organised completely differently to what I am used to in Cardiff. On my first introduction lecture we were bombarded with information and things we had to do to enrol in classes. Here in Granada they give you the opportunity to try out modules before you start to see what ones you would like to do, which is great until you finally choose them and find out there is no space for you! So it hasn’t been as easy as I naively thought it would be before I arrived. It is important to not to panic too much and just ask for help and talk to your friends who are going through the same thing.
So just remember that if you are stressed or finding things difficult, don’t think you are doing Erasmus wrong! Your year abroad is supposed to challenge you and even though there are lows, it is a really great feeling when you get through them.