I’m flying back home today.
I don’t even know where to start because I have no idea what to write as a final post or how to encapsulate this experience. Taking inspiration from a message one of my teachers wrote me, I want to start with the essence of my semester abroad: the people.
Remember that the best parts of traveling are the people. The best parts of learning a language are the people. The best of the best are the people.
This has been my mantra to soak in the last few moments ever since my teacher wrote me this message.
Apart from my family and my classmates, I made many friends through my extracurriculars — something that helped me tremendously in learning the language and coping with the culture shock. I didn’t improve my Spanish just by blindly memorizing conjugation charts or repeating phrases until they stuck in my head. I owe the vast majority of my improved Spanish level to the people around me; most importantly, I owe it to their patience. These were not people who saw my broken Spanish and switched to English, just to save themselves some time before they got annoyed. I had classmates who wanted to practice their English, but they would set their wishes apart to help me practice my Spanish after hearing me mispronounce something in class or not understand something.
These very people who wanted me to feel at home with them would go out of their way things like tofu and other vegetarian substitutes so they could make me dinner or invite me over. To some extent, I understand their disappoint in the fact that much of their diet was inaccessible to me; it’s one of the best things their country has to offer, and they are proud of their culture. Despite this, they have worked tirelessly to show me the beauty of Spain. One of my classmates asked her mother to prepare me a special Semana Santa delicacy so I could try something typical of the festivities. Another classmate of mine made me earrings with two screws she had her dad bring her from the military base nearby so I could carry a part of the country with me. One of my teachers invited me to the nearby biotech lab and gifted me a beautiful book signed by all the people who work there wishing me a brilliant start to my career.
The irony in this message lies in the fact that at times, it were also the people who would completely confuse me or say something a little offensive. These people, however, don’t go by a playbook, and all the good they’ve done for me will stay with me forever. They’ve opened my mind tremendously, and I cannot be more appreciative of everything they’ve done for me. I am leaving now with so many friends and family who have invited me to visit many times in the future — something I completely plan to take them up on.
Ending this post brings me to another teacher’s message in my journal.
As the days go by, observe your nostalgic sentiment towards your time in Spain. This will be the ultimate proof of this most beautiful passage of time that you have been able to experience.
This trip marks the start of my journey in Spain. I will be coming back many times over to see all these wonderful people and meet many more who will further impact me. People are good. If I’ve learnt anything from this trip, it’s that we share more in common with others than we make it out to be.
Thank you to every single person who has kept up with me through my blog and left me so many supportive comments. It makes adjusting to life so much easier when you know that people back home are excited to follow your journey as well. I’m excited to be coming back to this world that I know with all these people I love and appreciate who also now have some insight into what my semester in Spain was like. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you, and for what it’s worth, I hope I’ve made you proud too ;)
Keeping this shorter than usual (for my “long” standards), I just want to say that I am so grateful for having had this opportunity, and I do believe I’ve experienced it to the fullest. Maybe one day when I come back to Spain, I’ll start writing here again. Only time will tell.
Hasta la próxima, España :)
To all my wonderful friends and family in Spain: I can’t wait to see you all again next year and every year as time passes. The relationships we’ve built will be ones I will carry with me forever. Muchas gracias por todo. Os quiero <3
Photo credit(s): Spencer Davis & Benjamin Voros (respectively)
This is awesome! What program did you go to spain with?