A Rooftop Epiphany

Puente de Isabel II, 30, 41010 Sevilla

Last night, two of my friends and I sat on the rooftop of my apartment building, looked up at the stars, and had a long talk. We shared about what our lives looked like before departing for Spain, our career choices, our goals and dreams for the future, and more. Before leaving for Spain, I wrote a pre-departure blog about reorienting and wanting to become more present. Within the past year, I’ve developed a passion for psychological research with a positive psychology focus. I was initially drawn to studying the topics of values, virtues, and well-being because (1) findings in this area can contribute to the current understanding of how to promote greater quality of life, and (2) this work made me feel present. In working as a research assistant over the past year and proposing an independent research project, I’ve noticed how my view of my place in the world of psychological research has slowly started to shift. The focus has become more around perfecting presentations, meeting scholarship deadlines, and meticulously refining my work. I noted this as dedication and even though it was, the drive and commitment were accompanied by a want for achievement and regular slips into auto-pilot mode.

I worried about leaving for a semester abroad as I felt it may steer me off what felt like an uphill track. If I were to study abroad, I would lose out on one semester of working with my research mentor, miss one of the most important research conferences, and delay the start of my independent research project. These felt like large prices to pay for simply an immersion experience. However, I knew that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and despite various obstacles in the process prior to studying abroad, I continued to work hard to make this opportunity a reality (ex. compulsively checking the Chicago consulate website multiple times a day until I secured a visa appointment). A semester abroad felt like the right thing to do, but I couldn’t put a finger on why.

As I am one month into my time abroad, I can confidently say the greatest part of this journey is and will continue to be the wonderful people I meet and the connections I am building. These past few weeks, I’ve experienced an overwhelming feeling of content and I really believe this happiness should be attributed to the kind, interesting, funny, and genuine people I have met. Having long chats with friends along the river, becoming closer with my host family, and hearing peoples’ stories has reminded me of why I fell in love with psychology in the first place. I feel as if this study abroad experience, though it is more related to my studies in Spanish than in psychology, has grounded me in my view of psychology. As I slowly become more present-oriented and feel such interest and love for the connections I make, I am remembering the deeper reasons behind my choice to study the mind and behavior and the research I do within the field. I think that my recovered value of psychology will make me a better psychology student and mental health professional someday. It is starting to become more and more clear how far beyond a simple immersion experience my time in Spain will be. 

Published by isabel.santos

Class of 2023 Psychology and Spanish Double Major CIEE Seville, Spain

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