It’s only been two years since I started university in Scotland, and now I am preparing for my year abroad in Europe. Before my travels, I go back to the bonnie land of the brave on a flixbus to visit friends from my familiar town. Anticipating those I will be meeting in the coming year, I dwell on the significance of these connections to enjoying time away from home.
With prayers to the Spanish bureaucracy, the visa consulate office and a touch of magic to move the process along, I'll be moving to Spain by the end of this month. It starts to sink in that I’ll be almost back to square one again in sunny Andalucía. It’s a little scary when the new reality dawns that I’ll be, yet again, in a completely new location (which I’ve only glanced at on Google maps) and that the only people I know will be people I've messaged on Facebook. However, I say almost back to square one because the moving process I’ll be making to southern Spain, in its whole “leaving home and everything familiar” syndrome, does have its similarities to when I left for Scotland. I mentioned this on a previous resilience blog, but adapting to different challenges or situations gets easier with practice because we use our past experiences.
One thing that, not only helped me cope with moving to an entirely new place with so much unfamiliarity, but solidified this strange terrain into a home, was the people I met along the way. Sure, it sounds a little clichéd, but friendships really do make your world. Since the beginning of time, humans have been a species of groups and a network of connections; quite simply, we need each other. So how do I use this part of my life for my year abroad? I look at the landscape of my university I now know so well in the two years I’ve been there, and nostalgically return to the friends who have made it so special.
Going to the spaces which open up room for connections to be made is something I’ll treasure moving ahead with my next year. Whilst, outside of a university and student context, access to specific social groups and societies will diminish, there will undoubtedly be places for joining in on activities and mutual interests (or even interests you have yet to acquire and just need to give it a go… anyone up for a bit of beach digging or an obscure form of martial arts?).
When faced with a sort of similar, sort of back to square one moment moving to Spain, I know I can use some of my past experiences to navigate upcoming challenges. I know there will, undoubtedly and inevitably, be moments of loneliness and isolation during my year abroad. However, having felt and dealt with this in my first term at university (as the vast majority of students did) will provide comfort. Reflecting on how I moved past the not so great times assures me that things do get better and brighter. There will always be people to connect with, just think back to that fateful moment you met some of your best friends. Trust your gut, but also be open to getting to know other people. You could start chatting to someone at the park, picking up a lettuce at Lidl or smile at a stranger on the train. Of course, that all requires a little bit of courage and a lot of resilience (not everyone is destined to be your BFF!).
Of course, friendship for the sake of reaping its sociological and psychological benefits isn’t the goal. But becoming part of something bigger, belonging to a group of friends and sharing a part of yourself with someone else sure helps to lighten the load, making the space you’re living in that extra bit better.
Read of the Month
Blankets by Craig Thompson
If you’re starting to get swamped with September’s classes starting, I’d recommend this gorgeous graphic novel. It navigates how we grow into and out of relationships, with our past, other people and the ideas we’ve been surrounded with, through tender snippets of words and beautiful illustrations.
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews, currently living in Andalucía. She is a writer and poet whose work has been showcased in winning competitions, readings and anthologies. She co-edits SINK Magazine, which gives a platform to Northern creatives, and founded the "Roots"" project with Friends of the Earth that looks at the intersections between South Asian identity and ecology. Twitter: @anisha_jaya
This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 15px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
We're always interested to hear from talented young writers, so if you'd like to feature as a guest author then hit us up for more details.