When you are living abroad you may feel lonely and a little bit lost and even think that nobody understands what you are going through, but the reality is that you are not alone! Many others are going through the same process but experiencing it in a different way, and it is possible that their experiences may help you through yours as well. Last week I shared my experienced here in Pamplona as an International Student, this week I would like to introduce you to the experience of one of my best friends here.
Her name is Yadi, she´s 19 and studies her second year of Psychology at UNAV. I decided to make her an interview to collect her experiences and share them with you. When she was 12 she had to move from Ecuador, where she´s originally from, to Panama, therefore by the time she got here she had already experienced what was like to leave everything you once knew back and go to a brand new country.
How did you feel the first time you went through this process?
The first year for me it wasn’t a good experience. During my first year in Panama I did not make friends and I didn’t get used to the weather, it was really hard. However, after the first year passed I started to adapt better, I begun getting to know more people and, what I learned the most was the importance of getting to know he culture and customs of my new home.
Was it easier to come here to Pamplona after having experienced that?
After graduating from high school in 2015 I decided to study in Pamplona, but this time I did not experience the shock that I experienced when I moved to Panama. My experienced definitely prepared me.
What was your first impression here?
When I came to Pamplona the first impression that I had was that the people that I met were really nice to me, they helped me since the first day and I believe that’s why my first year at the University of Navarra was an excellent experience.
What have you learned trough your first year in Pamplona as an International Student at UNAV?
Although I met a lot of people, I came here on my own, without my family, which is probably the biggest difference from my move-out to Panama. At home my parents did a lot of things for me, so I would say that what I´ve learned the most is to be independent and take care of myself. At times it was hard, but i know that I am more mature now thanks to that.
Do you have any tips for students about studying abroad here in Pamplona?
First, if you have a great opportunity in life like studying or living abroad, far away from home: don´t hesitate! Embrace it and take advantage because that´s the point of having experiences.
Second, what is important when you move to another country is to be friendly and start knowing more about the culture, it is important that you adapt and accept this new culture. Do not stay in your comfort zone.
Third, it is crucial to balance studies and social life, you can also embrace opportunities to try new things; for example social service. I personally got involved with the social service of the university called Tantaka because I think that when you help others you feel useful and better with yourself. You also get to know amazing people and make new friends.
Fourth, if you live in a Colegio Mayor (UNAV´s student residences) you may get bored from the food sometimes or not even like it (personal experience), if this happens buy food at the supermarket and cook your own. Don’t limit yourself to the options that you are offered, create your own.
Finally, if you are studying at Pamplona, know that Spain is a beautiful country and a small one, which makes it easier for you to travel in it! Take planes, trains and buses and create memories!
I hope that her testimony helps you and remember: you are not alone!
-María Fernanda Callejón Ferrer