Katrina: If there’s one thing Spain has taught me…

It’s that life is all about balance 🙂

This is going to sound cliché, but time really has flown by! It feels so surreal that I left home 5 months ago to start my (hopefully!) final semester in Barcelona. I’m definitely feeling very mixed right now – on the one hand, I’m excited to return to New Zealand to see my friends and family again, and to finish off my dissertation… but I also know I’ll miss the relaxed Spanish lifestyle, all the new friends I’ve made here, and yes, even the permanently 30-degree metro!

Since my time here is coming to an end, I was reflecting back on why I wanted to go on an exchange in the first place. I always knew I wanted to travel and study overseas. The thought of meeting a bunch of new people, seeing some amazing places and pushing myself outside my comfort zone really excited me – and I can’t say I really considered the negatives! While it has been a roller coaster, it has definitely ticked all my boxes, and more. Was the exchange worth it? 1000% yes. Despite the minor homesickness, the FOMO I got seeing all my friends at home go through our last semester together, and how exhausting and stressful it can be to suddenly be responsible for yourself, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. 

Some awesome hidden spots around Barcelona – Palau de la Música Catalana, Poble Espanyol and the CRAI UPF Library at Ciutadella

So yes, I was in Spain to study, if you’d actually believe it! Esade has a huge focus on participating in class, rather than the lecturers simply talking at you. This made the assignment workload smaller, but it was quite challenging to raise your hand in class when you’re not used to it. There’s also the usual exam season student nightmare, especially as I’m going back to hand-written, closed book exams! But, since the out-of-class workload was smaller, it gave me the chance to experience life outside of the classroom too, and I know it’s what I’ll remember most.

I’ve visited 13-ish countries (I’ve honestly lost count!), from the glacial caves of Iceland to the sunny island life in Mallorca. I’ve embraced the relaxed Spanish lifestyle, even though it is very different from our hustle culture in NZ, and it can be quite frustrating when everything is shut during siesta time and on Sunday! I’ve interacted with people from across the world, and I know I’ll have lifelong friends for my future travel adventures.

The Christmas lights in Brussels and an ice cave in Iceland!

But most importantly, I’ve learnt balance. I’ve never been one to say no to a new adventure and there are days when I’m spontaneously booking last minute flights to another country with friends, and even on solo trips. There are also times when I’m on the university grind, studying for exams and finishing essays at the library all day. But there are also times where I’ve just strolled through the city with my roommate, checking out the local cafes and gelato. Life needs all of these to be interesting and sustaining, and you can’t have one without the other! This lesson is more valuable than any academic knowledge I picked up. 

I talk in more detail about what I’ve learnt and what I’d do differently in the podcast episode at the top – you can listen here, or just search “Great Morning Podcast” on any podcast streaming platform.

So, now I’m saying adios to the student life, and I’m excited about my next adventure… 

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