As fall begins, many of us have settled into new environments, whether it’s a new country, city, school, house, or dorm. Moving to a new place is beyond exciting and exhilarating, but also comes with many unexpected challenges. In the past of couple weeks, I have experienced all these feelings first-hand as I settle in to my study abroad program in Spain. For the most part, adjusting to this completely new country has been an incredible and eye-opening process, but there are definitely aspects of the transition that have been hard to navigate.

Whenever you move to a new place, people always tell you: “Oh my god, you have to go here here and here!” and “you have to do this this and this!” But what they don’t tell you is the amount of money you are going to drop on these various outings. The excitement of being in a fresh environment can cloud our sense of practicality. It can be extremely hard to say no to a meal, experience, shopping spree, and so on, because we want to take full advantage of this precious time. Finding a groove can be quite pricey. Everyone has different financial situations, but I think we can all agree that moving to a new place shows us just how many expenses come along with life. We aren’t living with our parents anymore and don’t get to come downstairs to a free breakfast every morning. I’ve already had to push myself to track my spending more carefully and make wise choices about where I choose to spend my money. While this can be really tricky for us impulsive millennials, I think it’s a really important skill that we can learn from living on our own in a new city.

Learning how to manage money comes along with learning how to be independent in general. I have always considered myself to be a pretty independent person, but I never realized how much moving to a new city would test these skills. For example, I am so used to being able to just call or text my parents whenever I need anything. Now, when I wake up, ready for a morning gossip session with my mom or in need of some information from my dad about whether to pay in dollars or euros, I realize that it is the middle of the night at home and they are asleep. These things seem so small, but these moments are slowly starting to help me build that muscle of making decisions on my own. Being pushed to think and make powerful choices for ourselves is one of the best ways to truly grow into our best selves. These tiny challenges also throw off our normal routines. Not only do you have to adjust to things like a new time zone, language, and transportation system, but you also have to figure out who you are and what your role is in your new environment.

Navigating this sense of independence comes with learning how to manage your relationships with other people as well. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from moving to a new city is that is important to balance alone time and social time. While having people to cling to in a new environment can be extremely comforting, it is crucial to find experiences and moments that you have just to yourself. I think finding this balance is one of the hardest aspects of this process, but is the most necessary in order to fully immerse yourself in your new city.

Each day comes with a new lesson, a new challenge, and a new sight to see. This experience can be so scary and difficult, so it’s important to remember that each moment is an opportunity to grow and learn. Finding your sense of independence and routine in a new environment is one of the most empowering journeys, so enjoy every minute of it!

COVER PHOTO: Rachel Wine

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