For me, I always knew I wanted to study abroad. No matter where I went to college, or where I would study when I made it to the semester where I'd be abroad, I couldn't wait to immerse myself in a new country and experience things I hadn't before. This was, until I set foot off the plane in Barcelona and felt doubts flooding in. What would I do without my family so close? How am I supposed to start classes next week when I've never even been to this city before today? What if this semester is awful and I never want to leave the country again? Do I belong here?

Avery with a friend in BarcelonaLuckily, none of these fears took over my first few days, and the excitement of the streets of Barcelona began the topic of all of my thoughts. Planning weekend trips with my new roommates and trying new restaurants made me more excited than ever about being in Barcelona, and all of my doubts about studying abroad I felt the first day of arriving were pushed aside.

However, after a few weeks, those doubts begin to creep back. I felt myself longing for home, missing the routine I had established at my home institution, and feeling my bank account drain as the trips I planned began to empty my pockets. Everything in Barcelona for the first few weeks felt like I had seen it in rose-colored glasses, and I felt so afraid that I was alone in feeling this.

After talking with my friends, however, I realized that I wasn't alone. Discussing these complex feelings and not only feeling heard, but that others were struggling similarly too, made me feel able to conquer the stresses of being away from home. I devised plans and strategies to better deal with stress associated with being abroad when it arose, and I hope that these strategies are helpful to whoever may find themselves reading this.

Find Familiarity

For me, one of the biggest struggles in finding my footing when studying abroad was the difficulty of establishing a routine. Doing something that reminds you of home or makes you feel confident when abroad is so important, whether that takes place in eating at a restaurant that reminds you of your favorite college bite, or finding an activity like yoga classes (I recommend the Frizzant yoga studio, located just 5 minutes from the Barcelona SAE office!) that you loved to do in your home country. Not only does this give you an opportunity to find a new place you love in Barcelona, but it also lets you feel a sense of normalcy in your routine as you adjust to your new surroundings.

Making Time for Yourself

Avery's favorite café and yoga studioIt may sound obvious, but I know that many students I had the chance of meeting in my program felt as if their weekends felt overwhelming with travel while their weekdays were overwhelming with school. Take time to relax with yourself and do something you love, like baking or taking a walk. These moments where I was able to reconnect with myself during stressful times really made a difference in the long run, even if they only made up a small part of my day.

Connect with Friends and Family Back Home

There's no shame in blowing up your mom's phone! When trying to adjust to a new city in a new country, talking with friends and family that you miss from home and updating each other on your lives is important for both parties. Your friends and family back home want to hear how you're doing, and you want to hear their voices too! And if you have the opportunity to FaceTime or Skype your loved ones, do it - it really helps to be face to face with a familiar person that you love.

I hope that these tips are helpful for anyone that struggles with settling in, I know that they were useful for me! Without them, I wouldn't have been able to take in this incredible experience and truly live in the moment, which is something I'm forever grateful for.

Avery Hormel

Avery Hormel

Avery is a Political Science major at the University of Michigan, and studied at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) with Barcelona SAE in the Spring 2024 semester.



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