¿Qué tal amigos?
For my final blog post, I thought it would be fun to share with you all the top 10 most important things I have learned about life while living in Madrid, Spain. ¡Vamos a ver!
1. A smile is the same in every language.
No matter what language you speak, everyone understands a smile. I remember one time I was on the metro, and I gave up my seat for an elderly man. He started talking to me about what a rough day he had had, and although I could not understand everything he said, his smile told me he was thankful to be able to sit down. And when I had trouble talking or understanding my Spanish friends, I would smile and laugh and they would laugh with me. Then they would repeat what they said or use hand motions to get their message across, and some way or another we would continue talking. But everyone understands a smile!
2. To believe in yourself, always.
I faced a lot of challenges living by myself in Spain. I missed my family and friends, I didn’t always understand my teachers, and I couldn’t figure out what to eat at restaurants because the food was different. But I was always able to remember that I am a smart girl and I can do anything I put my mind too… and so can you!
3. Food is always a great way to start a conversation.
Just like a smile, everyone understands food. Some of my best memories in Spain include food, and eating with friends. I remember my friend had Americans and Spanish friends over to his house for Thanksgiving, and we all pitched in with the cooking. It was so fun to share our traditional foods with our Spanish friends!
4. Friends can be any color, from any country, and speak many different languages.
I have friends from China, Brazil, Germany, France, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Bulgaria, and Denmark, not to mention all over the United States! It has been so fun learning about their cultures and favorite things from back home. I’m so lucky to have been able to travel to meet new friends, and I can’t wait to travel again and visit them all!
5. The best way to solve problems is to stay calm and try to find a way everyone can win, or at least compromise.
A lot of things can get lost in translation. And sometimes it is hard to live with people you have just met. But with a positive attitude and willingness to compromise, you will be able to find a way where everyone can be happy, and live in harmony.
6. Some of the best things in life are free (or at least pretty cheap!)
Living as a student abroad, I had to spend money wisely. I went to a lot of parks for picnics with friends, visits to art museums in the evening, and found a lot of creative ways to have fun without spending a lot of money. It taught me to value the time, and not the price!
7. To better yourself, educate yourself.
I was so impressed by some of classmates; most of them could speak at least two or three languages very well! I believe learning another language helps to broaden the mind and the perspective of how we view life. I hope to use Spanish as a building block to maybe learn another language, like French or Italian!
8. Love is a great human emotion, and worth showing.
Los madrileños are very affectionate people. When they talk to you, they stand close and will often put a hand on your shoulder or hold your hand. Couples love kissing in public, and parents are also very affectionate with their children of all ages. It’s nice to see the love they have for one another, and how comfortable the people are with showing it!
9. We have a responsibility to ourselves and everyone around us to take care of the earth!
One of the most important things I have learned about life is that all the people in the world are just that… all the people in the world. We only have one world, and it has to provide so much for 6 billion people, we need to do everything we can to help it. Places like Abona Vida are great in making a difference. Abona Vida is a fair trade organic tea shop, and a great example of people trying to make the world a better place!
10. Cherish THIS moment.
You only have one chance to live this day. Make it the best you can, help somebody if you can, even if it’s just offering them a smile. Time is the greatest gift we are given, and it is fleeting and beautiful. I’m planning my trip home today, even though it feels as though I have just arrived. A lot of times it is the little things that people remember best, like sharing a cup of coffee with a friend or walking to school together. Being 21 years old now, I have realized how fast time goes by, so to remember my time in Spain I have been writing in a journal everyday to remember those details. I have a friend who took pictures everyday to put in a scrapbook when he gets home. Explore different styles: writing, photography, drawing, music, whatever you like, to make the most of everyday.
So, as 110 days have passed in the blink of an eye, I am so thankful to have been able to share my adventures with you all! ¡Me lo pase muy bien!
Can’t wait to meet you soon!
Un beso grande,