AVIVA KARDENER- This week, our IFG challenge is about self-care. IFG (Intercultural Focus Groups) is an amazing resource offered by our program. It acts as a safe space to be mindful and aware of our experiences in our life abroad. This is an opportunity to digest and get the most out of studying abroad. Needless to say, I love it. This week’s homework is a challenge to remember to take care of ourselves, be kind to ourselves, and remember that being abroad isn’t a sprint—we all need a little break from the buzzing around to catch our breath and re-center ourselves.
I first heard about the topic of self-care when I started meeting with a Tufts Time Management Consultant. I learned that I need to prioritize my sleep and some relaxed me-time, or I’ll burn myself out before I even graduate. I tend to put myself in the same situation every semester where all my time is booked for classes, work, and clubs, leaving my “free time” for homework and socializing. I am an extrovert, which makes this schedule completely exhausting. It took scheduling in me-time to become aware of how little I prioritize my own sanity and the repercussions that has on my ability to effectively live through my daily schedule. But, since I’ve been abroad and spent over a month traveling on my own, I have realized that I really crave some me-time spent not doing anything in particular. This is a form of self-care that works for me, but I need it along with a healthy dose of exploration and sleep.
With the IFG reminder, I have done some things differently this week. This weekend was the first I had in Madrid in five weeks. I knew I would use it to relax and sleep a little more, and do more exploring closer to home. This weekend, I went on a day trip with friends to Salamanca. It was really fun and complete with some beautiful views, great pastries, and some entertaining jewelry hunts. I also spent an afternoon with friends in Malasaña, one of our favorite barrios in Madrid, “working” in a café. We ended up using our afternoon to eat lunch, go find cake, and then head to the Matadero in Legazpi for an exposition and to check out the market there. It was a fun and relaxing day spent enjoying Madrid. On Sunday, I was feeling a little under the weather and took the time to do some homework I’d been neglecting and have la comida with mi madre madrileña. I also went to check out the view from the Círculo de Bellas Artes’ rooftop terraza. It was a great weekend that helped me recharge.
And the self-care continued into this week. I baked un bizcocho de manzana (apple bread), which filled our apartamento with the warming scent of cinnamon and honey which always feels like a hug from Fall-personified. And the biggest thing I’ve been working on this week is going to bed a tad earlier. I think I can truly say at the next IFG meeting, “Challenge accepted.”