About a year ago, I decided to move to Europe.
A lot of circumstances helped me take the decision, but mainly it was my motivation to study music outside my country. I got in the mindset, made a plan and most importantly, made the sacrifices it required to really come study abroad.
I literally took a yellow pad out and started working on my finances.
How much did I make?
Could I take in another job?
How much could I save in 10 months?
How much would it cost to come and live without a job for a few months?
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I am an engineer from Latinamerica whose life long dream was to study classical music in Europe but for many reasons, FEAR being the first and the strongest one, I never did.
I became an engineer, decided to have a 9 to 5 job lifestyle and just do music on the side.
Now that I am here, I still can’t believe I ever had those thoughts. Everything is like how I imagined and dreamed of only better. If only I could go back in time…
If you have a crazy dream like mine, I’m telling you now: YOU CAN DO IT! Make a plan and start NOW.
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Even if it will take you two years to save the money or it will mean a big time investment or you’d have to take extra work, start working towards your dream today.
Though I spent 10 months creating and setting my expectations about music, studying abroad and the whole experience, I still have to admit that I still have had Slap-In-The-Face moments.
I learned so many lessons in so little time which I didn’t see coming given the fact that I was warned.
Missing my Mother Tongue
I filled my mouth saying that I wasn’t going to miss what people always said they missed from home, including their mother tongue. BOY was I wrong. And it has been eye-opening for me to declare it. I was wrong about many things.
But to focus on one thing I miss every day without getting too personal: I miss speaking in my language. I speak a little German but people usually talk so fast I am just always catching 60% of what they said so I need to ask them to speak slower.
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It’s not a thing that won’t get better with time and effort, but wow, speaking Spanish makes me feel good every time I get the opportunity to.
I get to be more myself because I can get to know people better and crack a joke here and there. I know that it’ll get better. I was just too naive to think that it’s going to be an easier transition on the whole moving abroad journey.
Not everyone is happy I don’t speak their language
I haven’t had many bad experiences, but I know people do appreciate when I make an effort of speaking more German every day.
I’ve come to the conclusion that people who are not so patient or who don’t like people not speaking their language 100% are just people who have never been in a situation where they could not speak their mother tongue. And I have to remember that’s on them and not me.
99% of people are pretty cool about it and help me in my learning journey.
Alone but not lonely: A Self-Love process
I came to Europe with my boyfriend so I can’t really say that I have been completely alone. But I left all my family and friends back home. Though I have made some friends, relationships take time.
The time difference makes it so challenging. I just can’t start calling or writing to family and friends at home around three in the afternoon. I spend most part of the days, when I am not doing something with my boyfriend, working on my blog I started when I moved here which aims to help others in the same situation as me) or studying at school.
I’ve learned that it is okay to be alone and in silence. I used to be surrounded by a lot of people and sounds most of the time, also because I used to live in the country’s capital with 2 million people, in comparison to a small quiet city where I now call home.
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I am now comfortable with myself. I am learning to be chill and funny with me. I am taking advantage of my alone moments to do some meditation, thinking, and individual work.
It was not easy at first but now I kind of like it. Being with myself and keeping myself company.
Study Time is Weird
Since I’ve always worked and studied since my third year in college plus music school, having time to really sit down and study has always been a luxury. And to be fair a lot of “normal” things in Europe feel like luxury specifically studying.
I can get up, get ready, be in the university in 20 minutes and find a nice room to practice as long as I want. I can come home to have lunch and go back. I know eventually I will start working more hours and have more music compromises, but it will never be as much as what I worked in my country on top of music school.
It’s really weird to not have some concerns and preoccupations that were huge part of my every day routine back home. Here, I have the opportunity to relax and enjoy studying. And though it feels weird, it’s also really nice.
If I have a thing I worked so hard for, it is an accomplishment I am thankful for every day.
Moving abroad has been a great help in my personal growth and development especially for my patience. I feel like an adult and a better person. I feel accomplished. I am learning to tackle new challenges each day without feeling overwhelmed.
Moving abroad isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it.
About the Guest Contributor
Connect with Aida
Aida Barberena is the voice behind The Traveling Choir Girl. She is an environmental engineer getting her degree in classical music in Austria and loves writing about her experience as an abroad student from Latin America. Her blog tries to help people who want to study abroad, or who already are and people who want to start blogging who have a limited budget. You check her out at thetravelingchoirgirl.com