Column by Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman

Greetings from Espana!

So what I want to write about might have been a bit more appropriate for a column last week, but it’s been pretty crazy over here so I’m just going to talk about it now. I think it’s still pretty relevant seeing as I’ve really only been here for a few weeks, although it seems like much longer.

Making friends. It’s a scary, scary thing. In this case, I had to keep reminding myself that I NEEDED to make friends. This wasn’t some 10-day Birthright trip to Israel (I went this past summer and enjoyed the company of approximately three people out of around 40) or a one-month summer program to a random country. This was four months of my life, living and studying with nine completely new people in Spain.

Shy by nature, it takes me a little while before I’m comfortable with people and my full, ridiculous personality comes out. Plus, I’m totally scarred by how intensely shy I used to be and memories of those times still plague me when it comes to interacting with new people. Basically, I’ve always struggled with meeting new people and coming off as either too quiet or unapproachable.

At the beginning of this experience, I thought I was going to meet the same fate as I had so many summer trips and programs ago. I thought I was going to bring myself down with my own reserves and self doubts, constantly over-thinking all my actions and words.

But I didn’t.

I started off in my regular fashion, which scared me. I talked to people as best I could, but kept to myself quite a bit, aside from my roommate. To be honest, I thought she might end up being my only good friend on this whole program. I reassured myself with the fact that I wouldn’t be with everyone all the time; there would be other Americans in my classes.

Turns out I wouldn’t need those other Americans, unless I just wanted to, not because I needed to.

After the first few days, something just clicked. All my inhibitions evaporated into the warm Sevilla air and I was able to just be myself, someone people apparently seem to like. I let myself go, and I don’t think I could be any happier with my current social situation.

How I felt for the first two or three days of being in Spain is completely different from how I feel at this very moment. All the girls on my program are wonderful and I get along with all of them perfectly.  I already feel close to so many of them. It’s bizarre to think we only just met a few weeks ago.

I’m constantly working on fixing this problem I have with initially meeting people and whenever I think I’ve gotten there, I realize I haven’t. I always feel like I’m prepared for the situation, but when I’m faced with it I freeze up and retreat into myself. I think studying abroad has already changed everything, though.

This may sound silly to those extroverts out there, but I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself for making friends and not just regular friends, but good friends, friends I feel like I’ll continue knowing for a long time.

I got out of my own way and I’m doing great.