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### Wearing Oversized Shoes While Studying Abroad: A Comfortable Journey

When I was younger, I had a strong desire to study abroad during my college years. The idea of exploring new places, immersing myself in different cultures, and embarking on adventures similar to those I had read about in numerous books captivated me. It felt like the perfect fit for my interests and aspirations.

However, the outbreak of the pandemic brought about unprecedented challenges, halting travel and making the prospect of relocating to another country seem unattainable. As a result, my dream of studying abroad was put on hold. Despite this setback, I was fortunate enough to commence my college journey, experiencing the typical freshman year in the dorms and on campus. The opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, forge new friendships, and embrace independence provided a sense of normalcy in a world that felt anything but.

As my second year approached, I transitioned to living in my own apartment, delved into new hobbies, and gradually grew more self-assured. While I vocalized my intention to study abroad, I found myself lagging in taking concrete steps towards realizing this goal.

It wasn’t until the eleventh hour, with the application deadline looming just two days away, that a timely nudge from a friend reignited my determination. Fueled by a sense of urgency, I dedicated the next 48 hours to meticulously researching programs and meeting application prerequisites.

Upon mustering the courage to inform my parents of my decision to study abroad in Spain, I encountered a mix of surprise and support. Despite their valid query about my choice of Spain over England as an English major, my resolve remained unwavering, having already submitted my application.

Following a summer of anticipation, I received acceptance into the program, prompting me to diligently save from my job and mentally prepare for a split academic year between Berkeley and Madrid.

The fall semester in Berkeley was a period of unparalleled joy and contentment. Yet, beneath the surface, the impending move to Spain loomed, stirring a blend of excitement and apprehension. Despite completing logistical tasks such as financial arrangements, class selection, and visa applications, the reality of the imminent transition felt surreal, leaving me unable to envision the specifics of my upcoming journey.

As winter break approached, moments of doubt crept in. Was I truly prepared for this leap into the unknown? The idealized image of an intrepid adventurer embracing challenges in a foreign land clashed with the practicalities of uprooting my life and navigating unfamiliar territory.

However, regardless of my internal uncertainties, the die was cast. Bid farewell to familiar surroundings, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

On a poignant Thursday evening in January, I bid a tearful goodbye to my father at San Francisco International Airport before embarking on my transcontinental flight. Arriving in Spain the following evening, I succumbed to exhaustion, surrendering to a much-needed slumber that spanned nearly half a day.

Awakening on Saturday to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of my new surroundings, I was immediately confronted by a perplexed elderly local, inadvertently locking myself out of my residence in the process. As I navigated the initial challenges of acclimating to my new environment, I grappled with the realization that the road ahead would be fraught with obstacles, both expected and unforeseen.

In moments of uncertainty, a reassuring voice from home reminded me of the courage embedded within my decision. While doubts lingered, I resolved to confront the challenges head-on, embracing the discomfort of uncertainty and the promise of personal growth.

Despite the prevailing sense of unease and isolation, I remain steadfast in my commitment to this transformative experience. Like a garment worn a size too large, I wear my mantle of bravery tentatively, navigating the unfamiliar terrain with a blend of trepidation and hope. With each passing day, I trust that the shoes of courage I now wear will eventually fit, propelling me towards a journey of self-discovery and resilience.