Beach, paella, bullfights, parties, alcohol ... are some of the siren songs that attract American students when choosing Barcelona as a destination to complete their studies.
They expect to have fun as ever, start from scratch, grow as a person and some even reinvent themselves. " Become a self made man" as the American dream.
However, they find a very different reality: they do not know the country, culture, language, future fellows ... So instead of the imagined paradise, they are confronted with highly stressful situations which produce uncertainty and above all, a lot of anxiety.
Some of the worries they share with me in my office are:
- "I feel I do not fit. I thought I would make new friends here but I feel different from them. Some go out and drink too much. I wish I could also do other things, but I feel dragged by them otherwise I feel very lonely. "
- "I've been here for three weeks and feel more and more nervous and anxious. I overthink and have trouble sleeping. "
- "I doubt whether I can finish my studies here, sometimes I am looking forward to going back home, I miss my family and my friends."
- "I'm reflecting on what to do with my life,I thought I had it all figured out but now I begin to doubt it."
- "I had wised to come to Barcelona for a long time. Before coming, I did not feel totally accomplished and thought that by coming to Barcelona I would feel better, but I feel much worse. "
The solution to all these concerns depends on each case and person.
The first step is to always check the personal and family expectations associated with the studying abroad experience. Once they are detected we can take off some unreal excess load ("become a great person in three months", "become what I never was before," "leave my problems behind ") and adjust them to the external and internal current reality.
Once the expectations are adjusted , the future begins to look in a different colour, and you will feel more capable and start to relate others in a more adapted way.
Although it seems unbelievable, these doubts are an opportunity to develop self-awareness, strengthen self-confidence and to get off this experience with an helpful luggage.