Chapter 8: seeking help

song: dream a little dream of me

¡hola a todos! 

I am writing to you after a long conversation with my mom (it was good, not to worry) and a game plan in mind.

Let me start from the beginning.

It all started in my “Self & Identity in a Postmodern World” class. The task of the day was to engage in a discussion on what studying abroad felt like so far. The professor reminded us that there was no right answer and that we were in a safe space to discuss. I sat in my plush blue chair in the humid classroom, expecting everyone to share stories about sunkissed adventures, picturesque explorations, and overall happy days. After all, I overheard conversations about people traveling across Europe or partying every weekend. I’ll let you in on a secret – I was still struggling to adjust so neither of those options was in the cards for me. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to travel and explore, but I just felt like I couldn’t keep up. I felt like I was the only one feeling this way.

Then, one of my classmates said, “Well, I thought I left my mental health issues back at home but it looks like they can swim across the ocean!” The class erupted into laughter and I smiled brightly, happy to hear his unbridled honesty.

As time passed, I realized that I would need help if I wanted to fully enjoy my experience abroad. So I connected with the Student Affairs team at IES, who referred me to a therapist. I was nervous – about a new therapist, finances, and getting mental health help in a new place. But I worked with IES to figure out payment and before I knew it, I was standing in front of my new therapist’s office. Thankfully, each weekly session left me feeling more equipped to succeed. Further along the road, I was referred to a kind psychiatrist who helped me progress on my mental health journey. 

I wanted to talk about this because if you’re anything like me, you thought that you would be smiling like one of those students on the study abroad brochures all the time. But it is definitely OKAY if everything is not sunshine and rainbows. Homesickness happens. You may have to adjust to a new diet which could mean a few stomachaches here and there. You may be super tired for a few weeks. Adjusting to Barcelona’s time zone took me about two weeks, but it looks different for everyone. You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel like the odd one out. All I ask is that you find someone that you can talk to. Phone a friend 🙂

I dedicate this post to those who struggle with mental health. Sending love!

Published by Ayanna Bailey

Class of 2023 Psychology Major, Neuroscience Minor IES Barcelona, Spain

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