Recently, I read an article in the Atlantic called Living With Less. It is about the minimalist lifestyle, “living a simpler, less materialistic life”. I realized that was exactly one of the reasons why I love the experience of living and studying abroad. There is something very liberating and simultaneously terrifying about pairing down your life to a few essential items that fit into one suitcase and leaving the comforts of home to nourish your own personal and professional growth. And that is exactly what I am about to do as I prepare for the next year and half in Barcelona, Spain studying at ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University.
Having studied on exchange in Denmark during my undergraduate life and graduated from Simon Fraser University only to land in a career in international education, many strange thoughts run through my mind as I go through the process of preparing to go back to school as an international graduate student. Some thoughts are less rational than others. Will my groceries spill all over the street as they did the day I first biked home nervously from the grocery store in Denmark? How do I pack clothing for all four seasons? Have I purchased the right kind of medical insurance? Will I be absolutely poor by the end of this? Have I registered with the Government of Canada as a Canadian living abroad?
However at the same time, I am filled with joy and excitement as I envision myself in a new home among a vibrant community of international students from Asia, Europe, South America and North America. Although I am still in Canada, I already feel a sense of connection to ESADE and my classmates. The university has hosted two pre-departure webinars to review key details before arrival and during our first month in Spain, and has set up a Facebook group for our graduating class with useful information including an invitation to a student welcome dinner to celebrate Festa Major de Gracia this August! These tools have been an excellent way to get to know my new classmates and future friends, and the ESADE administration.
Social media has connected me to the university and my classmates and has helped me imagine my life in Spain in the not-so-distant future. However, reality is setting in. The goodbye parties with family and friends have begun and the final dentist and doctor appointments have been set. I am just two weeks away from what will feel like the citizens of the world converging on one coastal city in Spain, and I am thrilled to take it all in! Goodbye Vancouver! ¡Buen viaje!