I miss Spain.
You miss something when you cannot stop thinking about it. This reaction is normal when you spend four months away from home and actually enjoy being away. Not because being away is better than being at home, but because being away offers so much that home cannot offer.
Before leaving for Spain, I did not comprehend or understand the excitement and the promises of people saying I would have the time of my life. I shrugged and showed them a faint smile while hiding my fears — living with strangers, being away from home for so long and the guaranteed uncertainty looming in the future. I look back, and those people were completely correct. I did have the time of my life.
And though I’ve experienced pure happiness before, the type of happiness where you can only smile, hug others and repeat the act over and over again — I never thought I’d experience that same exact feeling so many different times in such a short period of time.
I could not stop being happy while I was in Spain, while I was in Paris, while I was in Prague, while I was in the most unsanitary hostel in Lisbon. These moments of pure joy all rooted itself in the initial vulnerability I held going into this experience.
As I was just getting comfortable, becoming so sure of myself in college, this experience reminded me of how much I simply do not have control over. Instead of freaking out, all I could do was smile. It is a bigger risk not getting out of your comfort zone because you simply will not grow to become a better person when you always spend time with the same people, in the same places, in the same situations.
I loved study abroad because I forced myself into so many situations where I had zero control. I was not only forced to adapt, but I had to accept, but more importantly, embrace all the question marks that the experience threw at me. I immersed myself in a new school, made new friends and did my best to live in an entirely different culture.
Of course, being abroad held its practical benefits. My confidence with the language grew, even though I did not become fluent like I ambitiously wished for at the beginning. I also crossed so many places off of my bucket list. I accomplished my goal of seeing and touching history.
Despite these positive outcomes, I will not remember them in five years. What I will remember are the countless stories and friendships formed during these past four months. I did not anticipate becoming so close to these people and I did not foresee them becoming the highlight of my experience. By the end, I realized these people were not just my friends, but they were my family. They witnessed the best and worst of me. We all got sick of each other more than once during the semester, but in the end, we all looked out for each other.
These friendships probably will not be as strong as they were before in the future, but I do know they will last forever. They know things about me, and I know things about them that no on else will ever know outside or our group of friends. There are only a handful of people who know how much this experience has impacted me and these are those people. This is comforting.
I spent so much money, but it was all worth it. I would spend it all over again, because I continually felt richer and richer after every experience.
I did not anticipate getting so pumped about being Catholic, but I couldn’t help it after seeing the countless cathedrals, visiting Loyola and seeing Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
I never thought I would end up staying out late so often and partying with my friends, but Kapitol is awesome.
I did not know Cesar and Bela would all of a sudden also become family to me. However, they embraced me and treated me like I was one of their children.
I knew nothing about Spain or the culture before coming into the country. After four months, I can confidently call Madrid a second home.
In the end, I am thankful for the experience. We can plan, forecast, and predict, but too much energy is wasted worrying about the future. There is so much in life that we have no control over. We do have control over the present and how we react to it. So be present to the present. There is no time for fretting, worrying and crying. There is too much time not to smile and live.
No pasa nada.