By Nyah Pierson, University of Michigan
Through packing, learning Spanish and Catalan, and getting your medicine ready for your trip, I’m sure that you have slightly pondered one topic: friends.
It is completely okay for you to be a little worried about this department. In fact, it is completely normal to be concerned about who your roommates will be and whether they are kind and cleanly.
Well, I am here to tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you should not only not be worried or nervous at all. You should be invigorated to know that you are meeting new people and going to have new experiences with these individuals. Going to Barcelona opened my eyes about a lot, especially the people I share this planet with. Even if the majority of us came from the same country of the United States or the majority of us came from the same host institution of University of Michigan, there was so much variety and difference in our group that I could not have wanted to be with any other group of people to experience Barcelona with. I was one of three roommates in my host family and although I knew my roommate that I shared my space with from before, I did not know my third roommate. However, knowing someone and living with someone are two separate things so in that way I had to get to know both of my roommates on the trip in a completely new way.
I guess I should warn you that I am not saying that you won’t have troubles adjusting to life overseas and living with new people. What I am saying is that you will work through them and all of the individuals that chose to come on this trip were handpicked because they are good people (even for some, that may be hard to see at first). So your experience should not be tethered to your experiences with your group exactly. Also, try to branch out of your comfort zone a little. Maybe the group of friends that you feel the most comfortable with in Barcelona might not be the same group of people that you would be comfortable spending a lot of time with back home. That is okay. Allow yourself to grow with your experiences.
Most importantly, remember that the bonds that you make on this trip are not a deal breaker. In my case, the friendships that I made on my trip were with friends that I hope to keep with me for years to come and beyond. However, if things had gone another way maybe I might have been okay with leaving those friends on the trip. That is okay too. It is whatever you feel comfortable with as long as you put yourself out there and tried to make friends with as many people as possible in this new place you will call home .
Live up your time overseas and speaking Catalan with locals & your homestay but do not forget to make friends. Also, even if you aren’t the most social person there will be tons of activities where you will have the opportunity to communicate with others. Live it up in those moments, can’t wait to see your instagram photos filled with new friends!