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Gap Year Abroad

2 posts categorized "Eamon Kelley"

02/12/2016

Dealing with Stress and Exhaustion in a Foreign Country

A particular phenomenon has been brought to my attention recently. Normally I’d only heard it used to describe relationships, but apparently the so-called “honeymoon phase” applies to living in new places as well. You know, the feeling of suddenly being irrationally disenchanted with the object in question after approximately two weeks of unabashed affection. Last week, I found myself struggling to keep up with an admittedly light and uncomplicated schedule despite being enamored with my situation just days prior. Fortunately for me, I’m on the way out of this slump, but I figured it could serve as an example for others. Most importantly, though: don’t worry, Seville. I still love you.

For many people dealing with problems of anxiety or mood swings, the best remedy is often a strong, consistent support group. Now, my friends here - bless their hearts - did a wonderful job helping me through some difficult days and I love ‘em to bits; however, I don’t have exactly same tight-knit circle of kindred souls that I did back home. I had to get used to solving some very perplexing issues not only in a completely new environment, but among less familiar faces as well. In the case that one develops such problems in such a situation, here’s some sage advice I wish had been bestowed on me:

  • Do your best to maintain a schedule. You’ll likely have to dial it back to the bare bones of what’s necessary, but ensure that it’s a schedule nonetheless.
  • Eat regularly and well. Quite nearly drown yourself in vitamins, especially vitamin D. That also means getting some sun.
  • Go on walks, see the city/town/wherever. Explore. Anything, and I mean anything, but sitting in your room alone for extended periods of time. If the weather’s good, you just knocked ‘getting sun’ off the list as well.
  • Talk to people, especially any close friends at home or abroad. Try your best to be confident in the day to day as well, it really makes a difference.

IMG_4209It also helps when your city is absolutely gorgeous. Across from Calle Betis, along the Guadalquivir.

I'm very glad that I've begun to rebound so quickly, and I honestly can't remember much of how I was feeling because it was so brief. What really pushed me through was simply spending valuable time with friends; as it turns out, people usually stay friends with you because they like you. By extension, trying to be who I know my friends enjoy being around made my recovery substantially faster. Fake it 'til you make it, they say.

Now, I feel particularly guilty that I've been taking all these wonderful pictures of my everyday environment and there's hardly a soul who I've shared any with. These are some of my favorites so far. Enjoy, I'll see you next time.

 

IMG_4180One façade of the incomprehensibly large Cathedral of Seville. Featuring oranges.

 

IMG_4217Interior of the Parliament of Andalusia, the place to go in southern Spain for... government, I guess?

 

IMG_4176   The interior of the royal Alcázar once more. That's the throne room dead ahead.

 

IMG_4188Lastly, the view from the magnificent Giralda tower, the tallest building in all of Seville.

01/27/2016

Where 2 Weeks Feel Like a Lifetime

I feel that losing track of time can often be a sign of comfort. Over the past two weeks, settling into what is essentially a brand new life has gone better than I could possibly have expected. Every person I see on a daily or weekly basis is a person whom I had no idea existed before I arrived, but I could swear that I’ve known them for ages. I have a routine that’s been ironed out over a few days, but those are days I could’ve mistaken for months. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve realized that my life in Seville hasn’t even been two weeks long.

For some bizarre reason, I’ve also evaded any sort of bad experiences whatsoever in this short time. Everything that has happened so far has been absolutely stellar. I’m actually somewhat concerned, this kind of good fortune isn’t like me. Who would expect an 18 year-old to begin living in a foreign country with next to no preparation and have not a single major problem? I certainly didn’t. Several months ago I’d already decided that college would have to wait because it was simply too much to think about. Why is this so effortless, then?

I’m think I’m finally piecing the answer together, maybe. Possibly. It’s not certain. There’s a very special quality that Seville has. It is simultaneously otherworldly and intensely comforting, a duality I’ve never once encountered. Oftentimes, during my daily commute that is entirely ordinary and without fanfare, I will occasionally realize that everything around me is strikingly gorgeous. Paradise doesn’t usually look like paradise when you see it every day.

IMG_4178

Above: the lush interior gardens of Seville's royal Alcázar, a Moorish palace built in the 1360's

Aside from the city itself, the feeling of independence is exhilarating. It’s almost like I’m an adult! Mostly! Being in an environment where I have more resources than ever before to either strive for success or fail miserably requires an immense amount of self-confidence and trust. Not only do others have to trust my best judgment, I have to expect myself to use my best judgment. Going out for the night has yet to end in death, maiming, or other serious injuries, so I must be doing something right. Speaking of nightlife, Seville’s is thriving. Most excursions end up in the area of Plaza de la Alfalfa, an area packed with bars and clubs filled with Sevillans and expats alike. As far as nightclubs go, my friends and I have made runs through Tokyo, Abril, and Uthopia. I can’t say I have a preference; everything is equally exciting.

One moment in particular from the past few nights has remained at the front of my mind. We were all sitting beside the Guadalquivir, and, once again, we could've sworn that we'd been here for far longer than a mere week. In that spot, beneath the lights shining from bridges and vistas all around, time seemed to stand still. In a period where time moves very slowly, it slowed down to the point of stopping completely. I could've gotten used to that.

IMG_4174

Above: The Puente de Isabel II (aka Triana Bridge) on the Guadalquivir

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