First-Generation Guilt While Abroad

Giselle Rivera Granada, Spain


November 4, 2022

I feel like my days are super long yet so fast here. I will admit that I have a lot of downtime, and I can’t help but reflect on what it truly means to be studying and interning in Granada. I’m miles away from my loved ones, yet it doesn’t feel that way at all. They’re all a text or phone call away, so there hasn’t been a moment where I feel distant. I do keep in constant touch with others in the U.S. or even others who are also studying abroad but sometimes it feels like my phone has a hold on me and I want to use it less (even though I know I won’t).

Even though I feel like I fit in, sometimes I have to take a step back and realize that I look different, talk differently, and dress differently. As a first-generation college student coming from a limited-income household, it was really never my idea to study abroad whilst entering college. But, with a lot of encouragement from my friends, family, and college professors, I took the leap of faith, and now I’m here, living my best life. 

Of course, this decision came with lots of hesitation, confusion, worry, and guilt. My twin sister and I are the first in the family to attend a 4-year institution and I am the first to study abroad, not to mention have an internship abroad. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to go to college and eventually see the world, but I had no idea what I wanted to study or what career path I wanted. I have always been ambitious, with big dreams, and doing whatever I can to make my parents proud. They also had their hesitations, especially when I wanted to study out of state in Ohio and even more when I told them I was applying for a program to study somewhere in Spain. My parents bombarded me with millions of questions since they didn’t really know how the process works. Even though I answered their questions, they were still left somewhat confused but told me that I should do whatever I think (or know) is best for my life journey. It’s a luxury to have the decision of studying abroad or even think about it. My parents sacrificed so much to give my siblings and me a better life and education in the U.S., and honestly, I want to make sure they realize that I’m taking advantage of all the opportunities that I can. 

However, being here now makes me feel a little guilty. I wish they could come with me and visit all the beautiful places I’m seeing–not just through a digital image or video. I wish I could share it with my family who has worked so hard to bring me to this point. But I also have to give myself credit. I put a lot of effort into making this happen during my sophomore year because I knew there was more out in the world. I was aware that I had to get outside and experience new things. I wanted to see something different. Yet, I’m sure my parents are behind me; I just have a feeling that they could never have imagined this. Although I am aware that they are still getting used to having me be away from home and that their ambitions are somewhat different from mine, being here just serves to further fuel my desire to provide for them. I realize that doing things for myself isn’t being self-centered. I’ll utilize this experience and knowledge to carry it with me for the rest of my life. Making friends, overcoming cultural differences, and learning are all worthwhile experiences. I’m thankful for everything.


Semester Spain