Analyzing the experience

Upon arrival in Barcelona, I was very prepared to be overwhelmed with culture shock. I could not wait for that awe of being in an unknown city, or for that matter unknown country. I had expectations that my growth would be immediately noticeable with the major change in lifestyle. I have always considered myself a flexible person, but I could not wait to put it to the test.
It turned out that the shock I experienced was not from the culture, but from the lack of discomfort in a land that was foreign to me at the time. I kept waiting for the forced adjustment, discomfort and vulnerability but it never really came. I started to become resentful of the American bubble that my school was for keeping me from the full on immersion that I came here for. To grow you need to be uncomfortable. Barcelona was the very last place on my list to study which is why I am here. Those that have studied here prior explained to me lifestyles that are very opposite than what I am used to such as partying until six in the morning or simply living in a city. I wanted a situation in which I would be forced to adjust to the most and Barcelona stood out as that place.
My lack of research was the sole reason for my shock of studying with americans and in english. The uncomfortability that I desired never really came because I spent most of my time in the comfort zone that CEA was for me. Despite the amazing staff and friends that I have made, I started to resent my school as the place keeping me from feeling a real experience of immersion. I also started to resent myself for finding any complaints in the semester abroad that I am so lucky to have.
I gradually learned to ease the pressure off myself to be fully immersed in this culture. It turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I expected. Expectations are the leading cause of disappointment. One of my main expectations was to be close to fluent in spanish. I am nowhere near where I expected to be in achieving this goal. Instead of focusing on what I did not achieve here, I have learned to focus on what I have. I never felt more lost in my life than being here in Barcelona, but I can confidently say I overcame that in making this place my home. It may not have been a goal, but it was an unexpected challenge that I overcame. I would not do anything differently, but when I come back I will expect to grow even more. There is never a finish line to how much we grow so all we can do is continue to move forward with our head held high.

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