Everyone talks about the “abroad bod” — The concept that when you study abroad you return home far bigger than you once were. The funny thing is, that concept is a fallacy and while being gone, I've learned to love my bod, abroad.

Initially, the thought of an abroad bod scared me. I worried about how I’d look when I came back to school in the fall and how all my friends would look at my pictures and say, “Wow, she enjoyed her self abroad.”

But after spending 6 weeks in Spain and 10 more to go, I can verify that the concept of the abroad bod is the biggest load of bullsh*t I’ve ever heard.

Lets start with a little bit of my history: at University in the U.S, I work out 5 to 6 times a week and eat extremely healthy. I rarely go out and when I do, I make sure to use low-cal mixers and drink clear alcohol, and I NEVER buy post-drinking pizza or garlic rolls. I keep a strict diet and regular exercise. Probably sounds familiar, right?

But when I decided to study in Spain I knew my life would change. No gym, no water-vodka-ice mixed drinks, no sleep. I was petrified, but these changes, the loss of these American “skinny girl” accommodations, have been the best thing that ever happened to me.

Since coming to Spain I’ve just said 'yes'!

Samantha Sontag

Yes to sangria, beer and gin&tonics at lunch and dinner, I’ve said yes to the afternoon coffee and croissants, I’ve said yes to the post-bar pizza and yes to the no-sleep and early travel mornings because these are memories that will last a lifetime and foods I’ll never eat again.

And guess what? Since I’ve been saying yes, my waist has been getting smaller and I'm loving my bod abroad. Spain has thought me to love myself a lot and then a little bit more because everyone here loves his or herself.

Women walk on the streets with no makeup and wild hair simply because they like the way they look with crazy morning hair and how their complexion looks without pounds of makeup on. The first few days here I would watch the women and men as they would drink and eat and laugh, not caring about calories or sugar. They were living in the moment, which was so beautiful yet initially abstract to me.

Samantha Sontag

I was used to America where we constantly judge people based on their size, color, height, hair, laugh, teeth and inelegance. In American we’re working and running and doing and social media-ing that we have no time to stop and love and honor the way we look in the current moment in time.

It’s a sad reality, but it’s one I needed to face and tackle because as I would watch these Spanish women run in the park not caring about skinny legs or waists, I realized how stupid the term “abroad bod” really is.

At the end of your trip, if you love the way you look in your clothes, then you’ve successfully studied abroad.

Samantha Sontag

I’ve had a grand time eating and drinking my way through Valencia and to be perfectly honest, my body hasn’t changed a single bit. I only have time to love myself currently, ignore the social media crazed Americans, spend time with my friends and make memories that will last longer than my pant size. (Disclaimer, I’ve lost weight since I’ve been here because all the food is so DAMN fresh. It’s impossible not too!!)

My final words of advice: don’t stress about going abroad. Instead go and do. Live the life you’ve always wanted and love yourself because when in Spain, do as the Spanish do: eat paella and drink wine because in 100 years from now it won't matter the way you looked, it’ll all be the same anyway.