Its official; my study abroad adventure to Spain has come to an end. Currently in between flights && on the long treck home to San Diego. I am left feeling both extremely sad and incredibly excited, but mostly just in awe at how quickly the five weeks flew by…
I’ll never be able to properly describe the eclectic people I met, the breathtaking sights I saw, the delicious foods I tasted and the mixture of feelings I felt along the way…but I am looking forward to attempting to give it a go, and share my travel tales with my loved ones . Wanted to share just a few of the things I want to take home with me….
I truly did not expect to cultivate such strong bonds with some of the people I met while in Spain. For starters, to think that the three girls, who I ended up (for the most part) spending every second of every day with, were complete strangers just five weeks ago…baffles my mind! I imagined to meet a number of people on this trip but on more of an aquaintance, traveling—“hey, were both American and doing this”, sort of thing. Little did I know that friendships would quickly form and memories would be made with people I couldn’t now imagine my Spain experience without. So, even though we are no longer getting lost and missing trains in Madrid, jumping off cliffs in San Sebastian, giggling through attempted conversations in Spanglish, roaming the streets of Barcelona with germans or making fun of ourselves and each other for just how very Americana we actually are…there is no doubt that we will (at the very least) keep in touch. I am so proud of each one of the 3 girls that became my España besties for entirely different reasons but for fearlessly conquering four weeks in Spain. && I am forever grateful to have been able to learn and grow together…the cuatro amigas can’t wait to reunite and be compete “touristas” at home in the U.S !
I also so wish that I could have somehow packed in my suitcase my host family from Valladolid and my real family in San Sebastian. Honest to God some of the most warm, loving, fascinating and fun people I have ever met && I am already missing them all so, very much ! All the excuse to travel back to Spain though… 🙂
Another Spanish influence I want to carry home is how both my host family in Valladolid and actual family in San Sebastian prioritize their lives. Not entirely or massively different from how my own family or people in the States do things but the difference in Spain ( or how I saw it, at least) was that this list is an actuality rather than a wishful thinking way of living.
Number one on the list of priorities in Spain is family–and most of the ones I spent time with made it a daily priority to spend time together…and real time–not rushed or glued to their phones, but actual time… enjoying each others company. For example–every single day, my host mother and her daughter make a meal together at around 2:30 (when the work day is over or put on hold) and chat over their favorite shows or a Spanish film. It was beautiful to see that they have sort of shaped their lives around this time together rather than trying to find time to spend with the ones you love the most…make sense, right?
Next on the list of priorities, in España is to follow your passion. Again, something I think in the States we all strive to do, but in Spain I saw more people doing what they love rather than running towards occupations where money may be found. My cousins mother, Idoia (who..I guess, technically is also my cousin ) is the perfect example of this. She followed her husband when he woke up one day and decided he wanted to make tofu in Italy, leaving behind her beautiful hometown of San Sebastian. Her only question was if he would be happy doing so…while now she also teaches a ballet class once a week because it is simply what she loves (and is magnificent at). Success has certainly followed Idoia and her entire family because they all make time and throw themselves into the things they love.
I had quite few substantial aha moments in Spain, but the two that stick out the most are first and foremost the realization of just how incredibly blessed I am. I really hit the jackpot in the ‘hand of cards’ I was dealt—I have truly the most incredible people in my life (family and friends included) who I was constantly thinking about and wanting to share so many things with. To go even further I was also able to reconnect/reunite with the long lost Spanish relatives of my Cuban grandmother. Not only did the entire experience outdo any of my expectations but it was also such an honor to serve as the young, new generation “link” to reconnect my family.
Secondly, another sort of silly sounding, yet equally important revelation I had while in Spain was an overwhelming acceptance and love of myself. I wanted to go fall in love in Spain and be whisked away by some international gentleman and never come home (who doesn’t?)… but rather what happened in reality is that I kind of sort of just fell in love with myself….? As strange as that may sound, it happened…and I’m happy it did because to be able to learn to love yourself is not as easy as it sounds and is something I, and I would imagine most twenty somethings struggle to maintain. Whether it was walking on the beach of San Sebastian or sitting inside a number of the gorgeous cathedrals I realized that I am really proud of myself and just happy to be me...for the rest of my life. Being alone was terrifying at times but what this adventure also taught me is that its not only doable but enjoyable. Yes, I would absolutely prefer to “do life” alongside the ones I love…but knowing that I’ll be okay and happy on my own is something I can take with my for the rest of my life…
The best way I can kind of sum up this revelation is that I left the United States wanting to change a lot of my quirks or flaws…and I came home not wanting to change a damn thing. If thats not refreshing, liberating and worth every penny spent…I don’t know what is.
I hope every human feels that at some point in their lives.
And don’t feel too badly I’m sure, with more time, I would have fallen more in love with a number of the international characters I met along the way.
Although I will definitely miss seeing breathtaking visions like this everyday…
…I am also extremely happy to be home ! It’s only a matter of time (I’m sure) until my next plans for travel begin.
And lastly, THANK YOU to all who loved and supported me along the way…it truly made my time abroad so much more enjoyable, knowing I had so many loved ones following along.
Big giant besitos,