Holy guacamole! These last four months of studying abroad have flown by! As I write this I only have 4 days left until I return to the United States…such a scary thought! I can specifically remember arriving in beautiful Spain on January 21st and it feels like it was yesterday. So, as an ode to this wonderful, adventurous experience, I give to you all the TOP 5 THINGS I WILL MISS MOST…in no preference order.
1. The Culture
- Every day I step out of my residencia, I am able to experience the true culture of Spain. One of the aspects of their culture is that the people are CONSTANTLY out in the streets. Though I didn’t spend an enormous amount of time wandering around the city, I will be missing all of the aspects that I did get to enjoy. I’ll miss the elderly couples walking through the plaza together and then kissing each other good bye as they head separate ways. I will miss the wardrobes and hairstyles of the younger generation…if only I had pictures for you all to see! I will miss the perfectly dressed children that are EVERY WHERE. I will miss the night life, that is absolutely NOTHING like anything in the United States. Oh, and of course, I’m going to miss having classes canceled at least once every other week because there is a fiesta (holiday) for some obscure reason. These and any many other aspects of the Spanish culture will stay in my heart forever.
2. The Attractions and Traveling
- I truly believe that I was very privileged to be on this study abroad experience. I was able to travel to the following places in 4 months: Madrid, Toledo, Escorial, Sevilla, Barcelona, Segovia, Avila, Granada, Lisbon (Portugal) and of course Salamanca. Living in Europe, you have the opportunity to travel so easily, and I was fortunate enough to have 4 planned excursions with ISA! I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that Spain is absolutely gorgeous, pretty much any where that you travel. I am going to miss the beautiful, ornate buildings as I walk through the city. I truly am going to miss traveling and seeing new, amazing, mind-blowing places that I never knew existed. Being in Spain has truly opened my eyes to the art and architecture that it has to offer. The view that I will miss the most is the view of the cathedrals as I walk to class every morning. Each day it reminds me that I am so lucky to have this opportunity and that I need to be thankful for being here. Now that my time here is coming to an end, these places will soon be a memory, but I hope one day be able to return to this country and share these amazing places with someone else…so they can share the same feelings I have.
3. The Language
- Español, a Romance language…also known as Castilian, el castellano. I have fallen MADLY in love with this language. Yes, I have been studying it since I was in Kindergarten…learning the colors and numbers, but I’ve never fully had a grasp of the complete language until I studied here in Salamanca. I’ve always had trouble with conjugating the verbs, just like every one else does, but now I feel more comfortable. Before arriving in Spain, I barely spoke in Spanish because I was always embarrassed that it wouldn’t sound correct and the person I was speaking with wouldn’t understand me. Once I arrived here, that instantly changed. I realized that I had to break out of my bubble in order to learn something new about the language. Now…yes I do get embarrassed sometimes, ask my “intercambios”…but at least I speak no matter what. Of course I get things wrong, A LOT, but I’m learning. Finally being able to understand the language on a different level has made me appreciate it. I realize how much Spanish will help me in my future and truly how beautiful the language is. I hope that once I arrive home I will be able to speak it enough that I keep this confidence.
4. The Freedom
- Yes, I do have full freedom when I’m at the University of Florida, but its a different type of freedom here in Spain. Okay…yes it does have to do with the fact that once I got here…no one knew me. I could literally create a new identity or a vocal accent and no one would ever know! It’s also the fact that I am hundreds of miles away from my friends and family in the States, and I am doing just fine. The freedom has made me mature. I am almost 20 now, and I need to realize that I am going to be out of college soon and must learn to not depend on my parents’ wisdom and compassion. Living in Spain has allowed me to do this. If I got sick, which happened a few times, there was nothing my parents could do. I had to handle the situation on my own. If I got lost in a city, I had to handle it…and learn how to read a map! Even little things like these made me learn new things about myself, and it was due to the freedom I have in Spain.
5. Mis Amigos!
- Writing this portion is truly the hardest of all. I have tears welling up in my eyes as I type… :( Each person that I have met during my time studying abroad has left a lasting effect. I will remember each and every one of them, and I hope that I will be able to see them in the near future.
- Let me start with the ISA directors here in Salamanca. Carmen, Roberto, Rodrigo, Bea, and Sofia are absolutely amazing, wonderful people. They have been with all of the ISA students from the very beginning. They will help you with absolutely anything that you need or just be a shoulder to lean on if you’re having a homesick day. These people truly have become my family here. Carmen even calls us her children sometimes! I will miss them so much when I return home, but I hope to keep in contact in some way. All the THANKS in the world wouldn’t be enough to say how much I’ve appreciated them over these last four months.
- My “Intercambios”, Marcos and Sara: Ever since I arrived in Salamanca, I was introduced to my “intercambios.” Let me explain…these are native Spaniards who are looking for assistance in learning English. So they help me with my Spanish, and I attempt to help them with their English. Ever since we met in January, we’ve become very good friends. We’ve tried to meet up at least once a week to have a “reunion”. We usually just sit in a cafe somewhere and talk about absolutely everything. Its normally the differences between the US and Spain. Marcos and Sara have become best friends to me. We always seem to have good conversation when we are together and they have truly helped me with my Spanish…I don’t think I helped them so much with their English though. I am so glad that I was able to have these amazing people as my friends here. They have showed me the true Spanish lifestyle and I hope they will be able to come visit me in Florida one day! If you guys are reading this, I am honored to have you as friends!
- ISA Spring 4, my group. These fantastic people have been with me since we all met up in Madrid in January. We have had some awesome adventures along the way…from drinking the “Panther milk” in Madrid, to the Arabic baths in Granada, nights out in Salamanca, and me demanding group pictures in Lisbon. I am SO thankful that I was able to meet all of them! I seriously hope that all of us can have a reunion at some point in the future! I’d like to give a shout out to my awesome roommate Julie, for whom I am so thankful being able to room together for 4 months! We’ve talk about how weird it would have been if she hadn’t come to Salamanca, but like I say every time…I am so thankful that she did! She has become a true best friend and I’m going to miss her so much when she returns to Chicago, but we will always have our memories, “Ok ok ok”. I am going to miss all of them so much, and we will always have Salamanca, Spring 2012.
- Spring 4: Ned, Dan, Peter, Jorge, Maggie, Megan, Mandi, Anney, Georgia, Andreina, Victoria, Julie, Tina, Zipporah, Lindsey, TC and Hannah.
- Not to leave any one out, I’m going to miss all the other people that I’ve met in my classes also, including my professors. They may not have been with ISA or in ISA Spring 4, but they made classes enjoyable. The professors made the classes a lot more interesting and made it easy for all of us Americans to understand everything! They are absolutely wonderful professors! And I said above, I hope to see them all again at some point, and especially if they are ever in Florida.
Wow. 4 months is finally coming to an end. I apologize for this post being so long, but it’s been an emotional roller coaster these last few days. I am honored to have had this experience, and with the most amazing of people. My advice for any potential future study abroad student…choose ISA, you won’t regret your decision. Also, if you do get the wonderful opportunity to study abroad, savor every single second…time flies. As cheesy as it sounds, I have been the luckiest girl in the world this last semester and my heart is going to ache the second I leave this wonderful country. Spain, you’ve been SO good to me and I cannot wait to return in the near future!