Capturing the Permanence of “I am”

Hallie MacPherson is a student at the Seattle University and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

While in Spain I have been joyous, surprised, sick, nostalgic, worried, elated, confused, tired… the list goes on. I could cycle through all these emotions in one day, one week, and now, one month. Emotions are constantly changing and sometimes I can’t even put a word to what it is I feel either in my body or my soul. Sometimes they can definitely be out of alignment, and that is normal. Experiencing two different sensations, in two different languages, leaves room for exploration and understanding of what is actually going on.

I move through my days in the wake of my heart, meaning what’s on my mind, will show. When I want to share my glee or my sorrows, I have two choices. In my Spanish homestay, I have the choice to retreat to my room, or work through them with those around me, in Spanish. Sometimes the emotions have been so obvious, my host Mom will want to know what made my day or knock on my door and ask what it is on my mind and if I want to talk.

I have always chosen to share.

In Spanish there are two verbs that we conjugate to mean, “I am.” One is permanent (ser) and one is temporary (estar). The “two meanings” can be noted between “I am from the United States” (Soy de los Estados Unidos), and “I am very excited” (Estoy muy emocionada).

When I say I’m from the United States, that’s something that is a characteristic of mine that won’t change, so we use the verb, ser. On the other hand, my emotions will. When I think about what I will say to someone when we’re conversing about a feeling or state of being, in this one particular moment, we use the temporary verb, estar.

Sometimes all it’s taken for me to let go of the unease or discomfort from the feeling of being hopeless is to think about what I’m feeling, in Spanish. When I realize that my state of being and the adjectives I’m using to describe myself are something that is in constant motion, I stop and remind myself;

everything is temporary. 


Spain and Spanish continue to remind me of this, each day I wake up here.

Emotions are temporary and can change in a minute. This is why I have chosen to devote my time while I spend abroad to embracing what I can, while at the same time letting it go. Both the good and bad, the easy and challenging, the sweet and sour. We cannot have one without the other, so we might as well try to make friends with both.

Studying abroad is pushing me to live each moment like it’s fleeting, because it is. I only have so much time in Spain, and this, this is absolutely the time to have the most positive attitude I can.


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