Rory Moore is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying with ISA in Madrid, Spain.
“Don’t ever be afraid to try something new because you never know if it will change your life!” -Sol, Madrid
Today officially marks my return to the United States of America. I started my journey on Tuesday, Sept. 13th 2016 in Madrid and left from London back to Denver on Sunday, Dec. 18th 2016. I never thought that I would be able to travel through Portugal, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany within three months. Not to mention, visit Toledo, Salamanca, Barcelona, Granada, Avila and Segovia in Spain. Who knew that I did all of this along and was still able to attend class during the week?
Study Abroad Phase One: Nervousness
When I left Denver I was ecstatic to be able to leave. I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend, best friends and family, yet I knew that I needed to leave the United States. I wanted to explore and go to another country. I am a first-generation college student that was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this. I didn’t know what to expect but it was the thrill of doing something on my own that captivated my attention. When I reached Madrid, Spain I felt as though I was in a new life. I wanted to do everything that I could while I was there. I was a typical tourist, one would say. Everything was brand new to me and I still was in shock that I was abroad.
“Look beyond what is in front of you!”-Sol, Madrid
Study Abroad Phase Two: The Traveler’s Mindset
During my first two weeks, I wanted to plan out every weekend up until I was ready to leave back home. I chose to alternate one weekend in Madrid and one weekend in another country. This worked out well because I wanted to make sure to experience the Spanish culture. When I traveled outside of Madrid, I met people from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and England. Locals knew so much about American politics, yet I knew nothing about their country’s politics. During those moments, I felt culturally incompetent. This is when I was inspired to learn about other cultures and adventure more than I thought I could.
Study Abroad Phase Three: Loss of Motivation
After traveling so much on the weekends, I came to a point where I started to lose my motivation towards doing my best in class. I started to question why I was studying when I could be adventuring to new countries and experiencing new places. This is surreal and you probably think it won’t happen to you. However, I encourage you to be sure to continue forward even when you feel like you are done with everything.
Study Abroad Phase Four: Missing Home
Now, towards the last month of my study abroad experience I started to miss home. It hit me when I wasn’t with family and friends for Halloween. I noticed that Halloween wasn’t the same in Europe and I felt as if there wasn’t even such a holiday. That continued feeling spilled into Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to get turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie even in Spain. Yet, it wasn’t the same as being with those that I love the most. I missed the collard greens, mac’n cheese, ham, pork n beans and potato salad that my grandma makes every year. I missed watching NFL football with my grandpa, uncle and cousins. I missed giving thanks while holding my family’s hands. That made me want to be with my family even more. I started to want to just be home already.
“It reminds me of home and makes me appreciate all the things that I take for granted”-Sol, Madrid
Study Abroad Phase Five: Spoiled Brat
All I wanted to do was just go back to my old mannerisms. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to go abroad and visit other countries however, I knew that it was time to come back and get back to studying, finishing my degree and preparing for graduate school. The fact that I was able to just escape and travel is privilege and that is something that I have realized. It is a blessing and I am aware of that as well.
Study Abroad Phase Six: Bittersweetness
Once it is time to go back home you start to relinquish your desire to immediately go home. Of course, you are physically ready to be back home. However, you start to appreciate the language and culture difference that you became accustomed to. I have become used to speaking solely in Spanish to my house mother and communicating with store clerks and restaurant waiters in Spanish. That will all change and I won’t be able to do that. I am used to asking for a glass of wine along with my tapas and that will not be following me back to Denver. I will miss having my zumo de naranjas everyday. I must not forget having to exchange my US dollar for the euro.
In the end, I know that I am beyond grateful that I am going to be able to share all my memories with those I love. Not to mention, I will able to check off my list that I went to another country. I have become so much more culturally aware and less self-centered. I know that there will be many days where I wish that I was still studying abroad in Madrid. Nevertheless, I am patiently awaiting my return to Europe. I hope that I get to visit Amsterdam, Belgium, Greece, Florence, Munich, Berlin and Morocco!
“Even the buildings noticed have beauty”-San Buenaventura, Madrid