On Finding happiness, when you’re here and when you leave

Hi friends! We are studying abroad in Madrid this semester, and we have been reflecting on our lives at Swarthmore and how they compare to our lives abroad. With a new super cool world view, we thought we would share some of the things we want to do differently when we get back.

My name is Marième (Mah-ree-em.) I am a junior from Dakar, Sénégal, and I am double-majoring in Spanish and psychology. Swarthmore has given me a lot of insight into US culture, and really helped me develop a stable work ethic. I am also active in the Swarthmore African Student Association, SREHUP (Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia), and WOCKA (Women of Color Kick Ass). I always wanted to go abroad because I knew that four years at Swat would be overwhelming for me as someone who enjoys living in different places. As a result, I am going to spend one semester in Madrid and another one in Montevideo (see you in fall 2k17 lololol.)

Hi y’all, I’m María, a junior, born in Michoacan, Mexico and raised in a small town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m doing a Peace and Conflict Studies and Spanish special major with a minor in Latin American Studies. On campus, I’m a Writing Associate and I am involved with the Lang Center, Intercultural Center, ENLACE and WOCKA. Swarthmore has the resources that have allowed me to do many of the things I have always dreamt of doing, including going abroad. I wanted to learn more about myself and a new culture in a country I have never been before and, admittedly, to get a break from what can sometimes be an overwhelming  environment at Swarthmore.

Now that we have spent a week and a half in Madrid, we are all-knowing abuelitas and want to share our wisdom with you.

Swat tips after reflecting from far away:

  • Swat can often become a bubble/cage where work takes up more of your life than it really should. As obvious as it may sound, you should really make time for yourself and yourself only. It can be as simple as taking a hike in the Crum, going to Philly for a cool event, or just resting on Parrish beach with earphones on. It’s a good idea to put it in your schedule as “me-time” in order to really commit to it.
  • Social life at Swarthmore can be very particular. Know that if you don’t feel completely comfortable with it, we found that social life in other places can be much more diverse with many more options, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t feel like you’re fitting in or struggling to fit in.
  • When we arrived at Swat, we sometimes felt like everyone around us was 1000 times smarter than us. F*** that. Everyone at Swarthmore is worthy of being here, and that includes you. The student body has a million different talents and you have your own!

Tips if you are considering study abroad (which you totally should if you can):

  • DEADLINES: The deadline is in October if you want to go in the spring, and in April if you want to go in the fall. You’ll have to do two separate applications, one for your program and one for Swat. Keep in mind that the deadline for your program might be earlier than Swat’s, so make sure you start early and apply to at least two programs just in case.
  • [Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna plays in the background] If you’re on financial aid, it remains the same while you’re abroad. Make sure to take advantage of all the money you can get. Swarthmore will give you money for room/board and your plane ticket, but you should also ask the study abroad office for funds for transport, Internet, and other essential expenses. Get ur $$$$$$$$$$$.
  • Immerse yourself. Most programs have some sort of language pledge, and it’s really important that you respect it. We noticed that it is easy for American students to speak English when no one is watching, but it will help you immensely if you get used to speaking the language with the other people in your program from day 1.
  • BTW send postcards so you have friends to come back to when study abroad is over.

To the new kids, we don’t know y’all yet, but we are sending you tons of love and postive vibes for your first year at Swat. We had a lot of time to think about what to say to you because our classes have not started so you should defintely follow this A+, 10/10 advice.

Abrazos,

Marième and María/ your abuelitas amargadas (aka bitter grandmothers).

CORRECTION: 

The pieces currently contains the sentence “The deadline is in October if you want to go abroad in the spring, and in April in you want to go in the fall.”
As mentioned by Director for Off-Campus StudyPatricia C. Martin, the deadline for students who wan to study abroad in the fall is actually in February. The upcoming deadline for fall or academic year applicants is February 20.

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