By all accounts I descended into a state of mental dormancy for the last month or so, if not to preserve my own sanity, to actually learn to focus on the here and now. Focus has never really been an issue for me, but anyone abroad will tell you that the greatest fear of any student is wasting time on school, and thus Midterm Hell.
At home there are so many resources to keep you on track; a free library that’s open all night, office hours, places to study, WiFi! And of course all those exist in one form or another abroad, but with a series of hoops to jump through. Libraries in Spain, like every other business, have the least convenient hours possible. A consistent WiFi connection is a rare and beautiful thing. As for professors, most of them teach elsewhere or have full time careers doing something else, so meeting with them is possible, but difficult.
This is really just a long list of excuses to explain the overwhelming stress of midterms, or course work in general. And now that I’ve just managed to come out on the other side of exams and papers, it’s time for finals.
A better title for the post would probably be Distraction. You get warned over and over that school is harder abroad because there’s so much going on that you want to be a part of, and of course none of it is studying. It’s really easy to get possessed by this idea that a day spent reading or working on an essay is a day you could have spent meeting people, or sight seeing, or travelling, and you end with this persistent fear of missing out that never really goes away.
I made the decision toward the beginning of my semester not to travel as much as some of my peers. Yes, that means I haven’t been to Paris, London, Rome, or Amsterdam. My logic is that I have the rest of my life to be a tourist in yet another European city, but only one opportunity (that I know of) to feel truly at home in a place like Barcelona, and get to know the city like a local. Plus – I’m saving tons of money.
It’s a good thing for me, because I feel confident saying I’ve seen everything I wanted to see in Barcelona, and I have real answers when people ask me where to go out or where my favorite spots are. So if I blew off studying to hike to the bunkers, at least I have some nice memories and some great pictures.
This post has been a tad disjointed, but that’s a pretty accurate representation of my state of mind with so much going on around me. So enjoy the window into my consciousness.