What can you learn from an adventure?

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Written by Stella Collins on 28 July 2017

Have you ever sat in a nice bar or restaurant on holiday, turned to your companion and said “wouldn’t it be nice to live here?”

We’re about to follow through on a similar idle conversation and take the adventure to live and work in Spain for a year.

I always said I want to improve my Spanish so now I can immerse myself in learning a new language.  But there is so much more to learn so it’s time to put my knowledge about learning into practice and use myself and my husband for some observational research. 

Learning in such an immersive way is going to be daunting so high motivation is key

Learning in such an immersive way is going to be daunting so high motivation is key. If I’m entirely honest my husband is fully motivated and I’m struggling in the overwhelming mass of things to do to make it happen. My state of mind is more panicky than attentive so I need to keep revisiting the outcome and keep the end goal in mind.

I picture us sitting in the main square in Burgos, the cathedral glowing in the evening light, the warm air brushing our skin. I can hear the sound of mingled Spanish voices, the taste of a cold beer and the feeling of achievement that we’ve got there.

Otherwise the half packed boxes everywhere, the lists of things still to do and the thought of saying goodbye start to dominate and make me feel panicky.

This is learning to deal with massive change as well as learning about a new culture. Let me share what’s helping so far: 

Music! A couple of nights ago we had tickets to see my favourite guitarist, Antonio Forcione, and as we set off I was anxious about the boxes that weren’t packing themselves whilst we were out.  Three minutes into his set with the music swirling around us my whole mind and body had changed – I’m convinced my blood pressure halved in moments.

To immerse yourself in something entirely different gives a whole new perspective and music has that ability to change your state very quickly.  I relaxed, enjoyed the moment and let the feeling persist through to the morning. 

What music would you play to transform your state?

Technology – when I reflect on how I work with colleagues, clients and learning friends I realise that we’re already using many of the tools and systems that will be just the same from Spain. Apart from comparing time differences it doesn’t really matter. With Skype, Adobe Connect and email it doesn’t matter where you are and with many clients or contacts I already have to calculate time differences. 

In fact, I might even be geographically closer to some people. That’s one thing I haven’t really got to learn at all – just carry on and do a little perfecting.

What can we learn from the recognition that even during change many things remain the same?

Labelling feelings - I’m going to re-brand my feelings that I’ve described as ‘anxious’ into ‘excited’. The physiological response in my body and brain is much the same – it’s preparing me to encounter new experiences and deal with them effectively and it’s my choice as to how I label those sensations and emotions.

What labels are you using to describe your responses and are they working for you?

Other voices – all my friends and colleagues are saying “I wish I was as brave” or “great opportunity – go for it” and best of all “we’re going to come and visit”. Hearing things through other people’s thoughts gives you a wider, more rounded perspective.

Who would you speak to for some other voices on your current situation?

Support – I’ve met Laura through a language exchange system and we’re supporting each other by doing something that’s really easy for each of us – ie talking in our own language.

How might you help someone else learn and learn yourself by both simply doing something that’s easy but different for each of you?

Next time I’ll be writing from Spain so wish me luck on my learning journey.


About the author

Stella Collins is an author, learning specialist and director at Stellar Learning. You can follow @StellaCollins, email stella@stellarlearning.co.uk or visit www.stellarlearning.co.uk 


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