One of my favorite things about Tufts is its large international community and global mindset. We have a large population of international students (15% of undergraduates), and just about half of the junior class studies abroad for some portion of the year. When I chose Tufts, I knew I wanted to be part of that half. I decided to spend my semester abroad with Tufts in Madrid because of the opportunity it provides to take unique classes and focus on my Spanish major (more on that in a future post!). Now that my semester in Madrid is underway, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on how this semester compares to my first one at Tufts.
In ways both good and bad, my freshman fall felt like starting over. I yearned for my familiar, gradually-cultivated roster of high school extracurriculars; at the same time, Tufts presented a vast array of clubs and activities for any interest. The options were both irresistible and overwhelming, since the first few weeks of the semester were full of interest meetings (often with pizza!) interspersed among classes, homework, and meeting new people. After a while, I came to recognize that my campus extracurriculars did not have to mirror what I had been involved with in high school. In fact, I couldn’t have even dreamt of some of my favorite clubs now, like the German Club, in high school.
Over time, I started to feel more established on campus and comfortable with my activities. So, when sophomore year rolled around and I committed to studying abroad with Tufts in Madrid my junior fall, I was excited, but nervous that going to a new country would entail repeating the process of starting over.
But the feeling of going abroad has not been one of starting over. My first two years at Tufts helped me gain a deeper understanding of my interests and values, and that knowledge has enabled me to pinpoint the activities I’d most like to pursue during my semester in Madrid.
I’ve attended multilingual nights to pursue my passion for the German language and to improve my Spanish; the free finals-season spin classes I’ve tried on campus encouraged me to find a gym in Madrid that offers exercise classes every day; and one of my club soccer teammates and I are looking to get involved in the pickup soccer games that take place all around the city.
Coming to Madrid, even though the semester has just begun, has cemented the interests I’ve been cultivating at Tufts and extended them to a new place and new people. I’m not starting over; I’m starting abroad.