Today, Sibley and I finished our in-person orientations with the Office of International Studies. We were equipped with more forms, acceptance letters for the University of Alcalá, and t-shirts (because college kids love free t-shirts!). Anyway, it was a really great experience. I was in a group with around 10 other people going to places in France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Japan. It was pretty amazing! They all had unique goals and ideas for what they would accomplish and what life would be like in their respective host countries. We are even going to form a facebook group so that we can all keep track of each other and share stories of our adventures or even meet up with each other during our travels. However, not everything we talked about was friendship and camaraderie. We also delved into the topic of safety abroad (that’s where the freaking out part came in).
We covered topics from pickpockets slashing your tires, acting like you stole their money, and stealing your ATM card to medical problems like epileptic fits, getting hit by a bus, or bitten by a spider. Yeah, serious stuff! Needless to say, it left me a little stunned.
They explained that we must be vigilant and aware because since we will be gone for a long time, there is a higher likelihood of something going wrong. While learning all these things was definitely freaky, it was a good eye-opener for what it can be like in a foreign place. The speaker explained, “It’s not that strange things will be happening there, rather, you will be the strange one.” He explained that we will all enter the situation with our own unique mindset and that will influence how we view situations and occurrences. It was nice to take off the rose colored glasses for a little bit and talk about the nitty gritty facts of life. Even though Sibley and I frequently question, “Why are people bad?!” we still must face it. It is nice to have some tips and tricks for how to avoid those situations and what we can do if problems do arise.