11 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Studying Abroad

10:00 AM

I'm back!

Ya estoy de vuelta!



I can't believe it's taken me so long to write a new post for you guys, but with the time difference and all the crazyness going on during my stay in Europe, I barely had any time to even think about writing and for that I apologize. I'm here now and full with new post ideas and lots of experiences to share with you.

No puedo creer que me tomó tanto tiempo escribir un nuevo post. Entre la diferencia de horario con Europa y todas las locuras de mi intercambio, casi no tuve tiempo para escribir, lo siento mucho! Pero ya regresé y estoy llena de nuevas experiencias para compartir con ustedes.

Today I'll be talking to you about some lessons learned during my semester in Germany and stuff I wish I had known before actually getting there. If you're thinking about doing a semester abroad (stop thinking and do it, you won't regret it) I hope this helps calm your nerves and resolve some of your thoughts and concerns.

Hoy les voy a contar un poquito sobre algunas cosas que aprendí durante mi intercambio en Alemania, además de otras que quisiera haber sabido antes de irme. Si estás pensando en irte de intercambio (deja de hacerlo y vete ya! No te arrepentirás...), espero que este post ayude un poco a calmar tus nervios y a resolver algunas dudas y preocupaciones que puedas tener. 

1. Pack Smart
    Empaca inteligentemente

So this is the first thing I'll talk about because I literally wore half of the things I packed. I have a tendency to overpack and I took with me two suitcases and two carry ons. I wish someone had told me not to do this because getting to my new apartment and to the airport on my way back home on my own has probably been one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. Trust me, you don't want to be carrying around so much crap when you're tying to get to a train and the ground is literally frozen. Also, if you're going to be studying in a cold place, no one will know what you're wearing because you'll have a coat on most of the time. What I'm saying is you can get away with wearing the same few sweaters and no one will know.

Esto es lo primero de lo que voy a hablar porque literal me puse la mitad de las cosas que empaqué. Siempre suelo empacar mucho más de lo que voy a usar y esta vez me excedí. Me llevé dos maletas grandes y dos pequeñas para llevar en la cabina. Me hubiera encantado que alguien me dijera que no iba a necesitar tantas cosas porque la verdad el llegar a mi departamento y de regreso al aeropuerto yo sola con todo eso, ha sido una de las cosas más difíciles que he tenido que hacer. De verdad que no quieres andar cargando tanta cosa cuando tienen que subirse a un tren y el piso esta literalmente congelado. Si vas a un lugar frío casi siempre vas a traer puesto un abrigo, entonces puedes librarla con los mismos 5 suéteres, jaja! 

Berry Trendy Tip: Take loads of black clothing with you. It's not that noticeable that you're repeating the same outfits when they're black.
                             
                                Lleva mucha ropa negra. No se nota tanto que estás repitiendo el outfit cuando es negro. 

The struggle was too real, people!


2. You Will Get Homesick
    Vas a extrañar tu casa

To be completely honest, I had never been homesick before and I never knew what this felt like until I spent my first night alone in my new apartment. Why? Because I had never lived on my own and it felt really weird knowing no one was coming home. The first couple of nights I spent alone before my roommate got home were really hard on me. I skyped my mom for hours and hours and I messed up her sleeping habits because of the time difference. Having to do everything yourself is hard but eventually you get used to it.

Nunca había extrañado tanto mi casa, es más, no sabía lo que era realmente extrañarla hasta que pasé mi primera noche sola en mi nuevo departamento en Alemania. Nunca había vivido sola y se sintió rarísimo saber que nadie iba a llegar. Las primeras noches las pasé sola porque mi roomie todavía no llegaba y la verdad es que me sentía fatal. Creo que me la pasaba más de 4 horas al día hablando con mi mamá en Skype y le arruiné su sueño por la diferencia de horario. Es difícil tener que hacer todo tu sola pero eventualmente te acostumbras! 

3. You'll Be Scared and That's Okay
    Vas a tener miedo pero está bien

Like I said before, the first few days I spent on my own and I was completely terrified to go outside and explore. I was in a different country where a different language was spoken, and although I know how to speak German I was still nervous about actually speaking it, and I felt scared. The first days I had no internet on my phone so I kept thinking "what will I do if I get lost?" so it took me a few days to be brave and go out. I started little by little and explored only by foot cause I was scared of using the public transportation, which later became my best friend and is the one thing I miss the most.

Como ya dije, los primeros días la pasé completamente sola y estaba mega sacada de onda, me daba mucho miedo salir a explorar. Estaba en un país que no conocía, donde hablaban un idioma diferente, a pesar de saber Alemán al principio me daba miedo hablarlo...tenía miedo. Además, al principio obviamente no tenía Internet en mi teléfono y me daba cosa perderme y no poder buscar en un mapa cómo regresar. Más miedo aún me daba usar el transporte público, que terminó convirtiéndose en mi mejor amigo y es lo que más extraño.





4. Culture Shock Is A Thing
    El choque cultural es real

You will 100% have to face situations which will throw you off balance because you have a way of handling it that's different than in your host country. What you can do about this is do some research about the culture of the country you're going to be living in and know how people are. This will help but I can guarantee you'll still experience some culture shock in one way or another. It wasn't really bad for be but I felt it.

Definitivamente vas a tener que enfrentarte a situaciones que te van a sacar de onda porque tú las manejarías de una forma diferente a cómo lo hacen en este nuevo lugar. Para evitar que el choque sea tan pesado, investiga sobre la cultura del país al que vas a ir para que sepas más o menos cómo son las personas. Investigar va a ser de ayuda pero de todas maneras te garantizo que de alguna manera u otra experimentarás un choque cultural. 

Apparently it's okay to drink at school according to Germans...


5. Things Will Go Wrong
    Hay cosas que saldrán mal

There will be times when life won't be as perfect as you'd want it to be. I remember this one time I was going with two friends to Belgium. We were supposed to take a train that was going to take us to another german city where we were going to take a bus to Brussels. The train was late which made us be late for the bus. We had to rebook the bus and take a train to a different city we didn't know. Long story short, we got lost and stressed and ended up having to take a taxi that was 60 euros (do not take taxis in Europe, btw, totally expensive), we arrived really late to Brussels and barely had any time to explore, but at the end of the day it was a great trip and I really enjoyed it.

Va a haber veces que la vida no va a ser tan perfecta como quisieras. Me acuerdo una vez que iba a ir a Bélgica con dos amigas. Teníamos que tomar un tren hacia Colonia, donde íbamos a tomar un autobús a Bruselas. Dicho tren estaba súper tarde y esto nos arruinó todo porque ya no nos daba tiempo de llegar al autobús, tuvimos que cambiarlo por uno más tarde, nos perdimos, acabamos tomando un taxi que nos costó 60 euros (no uses un taxi jamás en Europa), llegamos muy tarde a Bruselas y casi no tuvimos tiempo de explorar, pero al final de cuentas fue un gran viaje y realmente lo disfruté. 

Brussels, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

6. Budgeting Is Hard
    Es difícil vivir con un presupuesto

 You will be living on a budget because chances are you'll be going somewhere that's more expensive than your hometown. Having a budget and actually sticking to it is very, very hard. The first couple of weeks I realized that 50 euros were enough to last a week. This, of course, only for food and day to day activities, not couting trips, rent or transportation. 50 euros were more than enough for food and partying. I was lucky enough to have a roommate with whom I shopped for groceries and we spent more or less 15 euros each on them per week. Most of the food we bought was basically from no name brands because they were the cheapest but also really good so we had no problem with that. By the time Sunday came, our fridge was completely empty, so that was our eating out day.

Lo más seguro es que vayas a tener el dinero contado porque seguramente irás a un lugar que es más caro que donde vives. Es muy difícil vivir con un presupuesto y mantenerlo. Las primeras semanas que estuve en Alemania, me di cuenta que podía vivir con 50 euros a la semana. Claro que esto sólo era para comida y las actividades del día a día, sin contar los viajes, la renta y el transporte. Con 50 euros me alcanzaba perfecto para comer y salir de fiesta. Tuve suerte porque mi roomie y yo nos dividíamos el super y nos gastábamos aprox. 15 euros cada una en comida cada semana. Casi todo lo que comprábamos era de la marca genérica del super, pero la verdad es que los productos eran de muy buena calidad entonces todo salió perfecto. Claro que cuando llegaba el domingo, el refri estaba completamente vacío, entonces era el día que salíamos a comer. 

7. You Won't Go Everywhere On Your Bucketlist
    No vas a ir a todos los lugares en tu lista

I had so many places I wanted to go to but I couldn't because I ran out of time and it got too expensive. But you know what? I went to so many cool places and truly enjoyed them and I know I will be back in Europe soon and I'll be able to keep ticking places off my bucketlist. Enjoy the countries and cities you do go to and don't stress about not being able to go to more places, after all, you'll only be there for a few months.

Hay tantos lugares a los que quisiera haber ido pero no pude porque se me acabó el tiempo y ya todo salía muy caro. Pero sabes qué? Fui a tantos lugares increíbles que disfruté al máximo y sé que pronto volveré a Europa y podré seguir tachando más países de mi lista. Disfruta todos los lugares a los que vayas al 100% y no te estreses si no logras ir a todos los que quieres. Al final de cuentas sólo vas a estar ahí unos cuantos meses. 

8. You Will Gain A Lot Of Weight
    Vas a engordar mucho

I ate pretty healthy basically everyday at home except for weekends and when I went on trips and I gained loads of weight. You know what? It was totally worth it. I tried so many delicious things in every place I went to and that's part of getting to know a new culture, you shouldn't deprive yourself. You can diet and hit the gym 24/7 when you're back home.

Todas las semanas comía bastante balanceado en mi departamento, excepto los fines de semana y cando salía de viaje, y aún así subí muchísimo de peso. La verdad es que valió completamente la pena. Probé muchísimas cosas deliciosas en todos los lugares a los que fui y esto es parte de conocer una nueva cultura, no te limites. Puedes hacer dieta e ir al gimnasio 24/7 cuando regreses a casa. 

Eating some bread thing in Essen, Germany

Traditional German Bratwurst

Drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market

Pommes mit Mayo - French fries with mayo

I can't remember what this was called because it was in Czech. It was awesome, though.

These are very typical in Prague, they're called Trdelníks and you gotta try them!

The one I miss the most: Döner Kebab aka my every Sunday dinner.

Mossels and french fries in Belgium. Super typical.

Fish and Chips in London, obvi.

Belgian Waffles in, well, Belgium
Traditional English breakfast. Best way to start the day.
Hence the extra kilogramms...😳😳😳
Aquí vemos muy clara la razón de la engordada...😳😳😳

9. Learning Takes Place Outside The Classroom (...but you actually have to study)
    El aprendizaje toma lugar afuera del salón de clases (...pero también hay que estudiar)

I took very interesting courses with very smart teachers, however, most of the things I learned were outside the classroom. I learned how hard it is to live on your own, I learned to be responsible for myself, I became more independent, I learned how to stay on a budget, how not to waste money on stuff I don't really need, I learned how to be more organized and how to live with someone that's not my family which made me more tolerant and so much more. Eventhough this was very important, the last two weeks were a pain in the butt. I killed myself studying for my finals more than I ever had because I didn't do anything all semester until the very end. Keep in mind that at the end of the day you're studying abroad.

Tomé clases muy interesantes con profesores buenísimos, pero la mayoría de las cosas que aprendí fueron afuera de la uni. Aprendí lo difícil que es vivir sola, a ser responsable, a ser independiente, a vivir con un presupuesto, a no gastar dinero en tonterías que no necesito, a ser más organizada, a vivir con alguien que no es de mi familia, lo cual me hizo ser más tolerante, y muchísimo más. Aunque todo esto fue de inmensa importancia, las últimas dos semanas fueron súper estresantes. Me maté estudiando más que nunca en la vida para mis finales porque en todo el semestre no hice nada y lo dejé todo para el final. Hay que recordar que al final de cuentas estamos allá para estudiar...




10. Your Experience Is Up To You
      Tu experiencia depende de tí
From the moment to step outside the plane you decide what your experience will be like. You decide if you will make the  most out of it. My biggest recommendation is to step outside of your comfort zone as much as possible and in as many aspects as possible. Make new friends from different cultures, explore new places, eat new foods, try everything that's different to what you're used to. You won't regret it.

Desde el momento que pones pie fuera del avión, tú decides cómo va a ser tu experiencia. Tú decides si lo vas a disfrutar al máximo. Mi mayor recomendación es salir lo más posible de tu zona de confort en la mayor cantidad de aspectos posibles. Haz nuevos amigos de países diferentes al tuyo, explora nuevos lugares, come cosas nuevas, prueba todo lo que es diferente a lo que estás acostumbrado. No te vas a arrepentir. 


11. Nothing Can Prepare You
      Nada puede prepararte realmente

You'll probably do lots of research and read millions of posts exactly like this one but truth be told, nothing will prepare you. Everything will be unexpected when you get to this new place and those few months that you spend there will be the most rewarding of your life. You will become a new person and you will never ever regret having taken this chance. Go for it!

Probablemente investigarás y leerás miles de posts como este, pero la neta es que nada te va a preparar, no realmente. Todo va a ser completamente inesperado cuando llegues a este nuevo lugar y esos meses que pases ahí van a ser los mejores de tu vida. Te convertirás en una nueva persona y nunca te vas a arrepentir de haber tomado esa oportunidad. 

The best is yet to come...

What do you think about this post? Are you thinking about studying abroad or have you done it already? Where did you go to? Let me know in the comments below!

Qué piensas de este post? Estás pensando en irte de intercambio o ya lo hiciste? A dónde te fuiste? Cuéntame en los comentarios! 


If you don't follow me on Instagram yet, go check it out! I have lots of pictures of my semester abroad there ➜ @berrytrendy


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