I have been back home in the good ol’ US of A for four full days now, so I figured I’d better write my “final reflection” post before the comforts of home and laziness of summer fully take over, and I will soon forget how to write a coherent sentence.
It feels weird, to reflect on the time I spent abroad, to look back on four months as one single experience, when each month and each day brought something new and completely different. Though my experience was by no means perfect, or easy, I learned so, so much more about myself and (as cheesy as it sounds) the world around me in those four months I spent abroad than I have in 20 years of my life. I learned that I can handle a lot more than I thought was ever possible. I learned how to order to a coffee in Spanish, how to live with a crazy woman for two months and yet still maintain my sanity, how to study for finals in the midst of a heatwave (the secret: find an air-conditioned cafe, preferably with wifi). I learned the best way to park a Sevici bike and that Spanish high schoolers aren’t that different than American high schoolers; I learned that Spaniards love their olive oil and small dogs. I learned that Paris is worth a missed flight and seven-hours in a crowded airport, that politicians today pale in comparison to Winston Churchill, that Italian gelato really is as good as everyone claims it to be. I learned that I hate the pound, love the borders-free Schengen Area, and that, yikes, is Spain really going to become the next Greece?
I’m excited to be back in my own, comfortable, familiar bed, with my family and in my hometown, but there are certainly things I miss about Spain and about just being abroad in general. For one, I miss my roommate, Emma, who over the course of four months became one of my best friends, my favorite travel buddy, and future bridesmaid in my wedding (fingers crossed we find The One!). It’s weird that I’m writing this without her sitting across from me, intently typing up her own (hopefully) insightful yet humorous Tumblr post. I miss our room, even with its lack of shelving, our host family, Carmen. I miss traveling around Europe, that beautiful land of history, churches, and many, many museums, and the feeling of empowerment and independence that came with figuring out a foreign city’s public transportation or successfully booking a hostel at only 20 euro a night.
But I am glad to be back home again, because being home both makes me realize how lucky I was to have had such a surreal, amazing four months abroad and how lucky I am to have such an amazing place to come home to. Mom and Dad, thank you. Thanks for putting up with my 6:00 am US-time (12:00 pm Spain-time) phone calls, for keeping calm even when I know I probably half-scared you to death with my travels, for funding my amazing race throughout Europe. Most of all, thank you for being the loving, supportive parents that you are. You are always looking out for me, and I am truly grateful.
With this post, I sign off on my study abroad blog. To anyone who’s read this over the past four months, thank you. I truly hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed (somewhat obsessively) updating it. It’s been a pleasure, and I know for certain I’ll probably nostalgically browse through this blog a few months (or weeks, or days) from now.
So, to draw on some more lessons learned while in Spain: ¡Adios, amigos!
Dear Paula, Jose, Claudia, and Sergio,
I know you’ll never read this, and this is more of a reflection for the sentimental sap in me, but I just want to say thanks. Thank you for taking me and Emma in, and providing us with a home where we felt comfortable, wanted and happy. Thank you, Paula, for making delicious lentejas for lunch and for teaching us the proper way to peel an orange and for buying the deliciousness that is Nocilla. Thank you for helping me conjugate my verbs mid-conversation and for not getting mad when a pen explodes on our sheets and for asking (and listening!) about my family at home. Thank you, Sergio, for being basically the coolest kid ever and always answering my question “Como era escuela?” (“How was school?”) everyday with the same smile. And for helping me out when I forget how to say “luggage” in Spanish. Thank you, Jose, for providing the dinner table with interesting conversation, every night, and for teaching me about the European Union, soccer, and Seville. Thank you, Claudia, for leaving me with hilarious videos of you singing along to Scooby Doo on my laptop that I know I will watch a few months from now and probably tear up a bit. Thank you, all of you, for taking me to pasos during Semana Santa and introducing me to your cousins and being basically the most adorable family in all of Spain. Thank you for making my time in Seville a great time.
Goodbye, UK. I’ll miss you!
View from the Castle