When I moved to Madrid, I felt like I was in a completely different world. I was excited to live in a city of its size, with all the people, vibrant atmosphere and cosmopolitan culture. I was expecting a culture shock, loneliness and despair at times, but by the end I learnt it is only natural to feel this way and tried to make the most of my limited time in an unexplored country.

To be honest with you, I was cheating a little. I moved to the United Kingdom in 2016 from the Czech Republic, my home country, and I would say the cultural shock was way worse back then. Not only had I decided to move out of my parent’s house for the first time in my life, I decided to move to a completely different country, culture and a world with a new set of rules.

Image – Madrid

I moved to the UK two years ago and, even though it was scary at first, it only proved to me that once you make a big step in your life such as this, the experience you gain from the decision never goes away.

I believe that the biggest advantage from studying abroad is that you get to know another country, another culture, another city in a way you would never get to know if you were just going there on holiday. You engage with locals and make lifetime friendships. You get to visit places that only the locals know and at the end you will know the bits and pieces of their culture you never thought you could grasp in such a short period of time.

You learn so much about yourself, as well as about the people around you. You  suddenly have to start a new life somewhere, even if it is just for one semester or one year. However, by dealing with everything on your own, you learn more about who you are and how to be yourself more.

Here are a few recommendations to make the most of studying abroad:

  1. Save up: not to scare you, but you never know what can go wrong and it is always good to have some extra money in your bank account.
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak to people, because you might make memories with them that you will never forget.
  3. Don’t overthink the situation; every problem can be solved.
  4. Cherish time with your family: once you’re in a situation where you cannot just pack your bags and go home whenever you want to, you will find every moment with your family extra special.
  5. There is no definition of normal: you will see some weird stuff, but don’t worry, some people might think that about you too! Everyone is different and it’s important to embrace it.

Image courtesy of Farrokh Bulsara

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