Hatchet Expat: Savoring every moment abroad

It’s hard to believe I’ve been living abroad for more than two months. Seeing my calendar chock-full of weekend trips and important dates makes me realize how precious my time here really is.

I feel almost fully adjusted to the Sevillan way of life after realizing that everything here takes significantly longer. From waiting for the bill at a restaurant, to even just walking down the street, the Sevillan lifestyle is one that can be summed up in three short words: “No pasa nada,” or “Everything is okay.”

Coming from a typical college environment of pulling all-nighters for exams while simultaneously participating in extracurricular activities, holding down an internship, staying in shape and maintaining a social life, I was anticipating a faster-paced study abroad experience.

But I’m pleasantly surprised with the way studying abroad has eliminated most of my everyday stresses and burdens. There is no rush to do anything here. I don’t buzz through the crowded streets in a rush to class, and I’ve learned to appreciate the value of a leisurely meal without the burden of everyone’s cell phones ringing or alerting them about the latest social media.

What I love most about this more relaxed lifestyle is how centered I feel every minute of the day. My walk to class lets me enjoy the cobble stone streets, blossoming orange trees and a sunny, blue sky. My weekends – when I’m not traveling – consist of lazy days along the river, among green grass and beautiful architecture. Most days I genuinely wonder to myself, “How is it possible I’m living in such a beautiful place?” Being here has made me realize that it is often the simple things that are the most amazing.

The only piece missing from my newfound outlook on life is my family and friends back home. Between my class schedule and my parents’ busy lives – not to mention the six-hour time difference – finding time to talk to them has been more of a challenge than I anticipated. I can’t just call my mom on the way to my 9 a.m. class like I normally do at GW. I almost feel as though I need to write down everything I want to tell her to remember it all by the time I get her on the phone.

The same goes for my friends. Those abroad have different traveling schedules than I do, and sometimes we miss each other in the same city by just a day. Those back at GW have their own lives, classes and schedules to manage, and I am usually waking up for class just as they are leaving Gelman for the night.

Still, I constantly remind myself that this semester is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I need to take everything with a grain of salt. Going back to the U.S. after four months of experiencing new cultures, discovering new places and gaining a new understanding for what it means to relax might be a bit of a challenge, but at least I’ll be able to say I did it.

And having experienced the Sevillan lifestyle I can now call my own, I know I’ll return to my life back home with an even greater appreciation for everything and everyone within it.

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