“Every positive change in life begins with a clear, unequivocal decision that you are either going to do something or stop doing something” -unknown
For my eighth blog post, I decided to make a photo essay with the highlights of my study abroad program so far. These pictures are some of my favorite memories and funny moments from Spain. Each picture has its own story behind it. They go in order from when I first arrived up until now. Bienvenidos a España!
This photo was taken on the steps of the Spanish Embassy on the day that I applied for my student visa. I remember having so many butterflies in my stomach; I was so excited for the adventure that was to come.
September 13th, 2016
This is the group of American exchange students studying abroad in Spain. During our three day orientation in Madrid, we visited museums, toured parks and restaurants, and we all became a little family. Since this photo was taken, we have all bonded and changed together through this incredible experience of studying abroad.
September 15th, 2016
This is a picture of the sunset taken from the bus on the way to meet our host families. All of us Americans were still together on the bus because our host families are all in the same province, Badajoz Extremadura. We were all so nervous it was ridiculous.
There were two bus stops. We arrive at the first one, Don Benito. All of the Americans getting off here got up, got their bags, and we all said our goodbyes, lots and lots of goodbyes. They ended up standing at the door of the bus until we realized that none of the other locals had gotten up and were looking at us like we were crazy. Turns out we weren’t actually at the bus stop, we were at a rest stop for the bus driver. Classic tourists.
September 17th, 2016
My first weekend in Spain. It was my host sister’s birthday so we went to Burger King for dinner with all of her friends. I think it’s hilarious that going to Burger King and McDonald’s is the thing here, because I’ve always thought of that as such a typical American thing to do. I was totally surprised at how different hanging out is here. Usually the entire friend group gets together and rarely hangs out in a house. We also go out much later (9pm to around 1am) because in the afternoon there’s sports or classes.
September 29th, 2016
I was out enjoying a boiling hot September day in Spain, when I came across what I thought was a lime tree. A lime tree! I got so excited because I would never find a lime tree back where I live. Of course, I had to pick one and then try it… It tasted weird but I just thought that was because it wasn’t ripe enough. Well. Months go by and those lime trees start turning into orange trees… That lime was just a really, really, really unripe orange. Once again, classic tourist, or maybe not so classic. I probably should have known that there are a lot of orange trees in Spain.
October 8th, 2016
Turning 16 in Spain is something I will remember forever. We went to Madrid for a surprise birthday party for an uncle, but because we are in Spain, the party lasted until way past 12am, so we started to celebrate my birthday as well.
Looking back to turning 16 feels like ages ago, and yet it was only 4 months ago. Time flies when you’re having fun.
November 6th, 2016
We went asparagus picking! I had no idea that asparagus grows on a bush. It’s a small bush that’s low to the ground and looks like your normal everyday bush, but there’s actually asparagus underneath the prickly branches. As I am not an asparagus expert, it was news to me that there are two different types of asparagus. You learn something new everyday.
November 13th, 2016
Supermoon! Super luna! My Spanish teacher took us up to a village on the side of a mountain to get a good view of the supermoon. It was incredible!
November 27th, 2016
A group of German students came to my town for a week. One of the girls stayed with my host family. It was an eye opening experience to be living abroad with two other girls my age, from totally different backgrounds, especially during the election.
December 22nd, 2016
I got a package from my parents! We heard the doorbell ring so my host mom opened the door, and there it was! She said, Louise your package is here and it wasn’t taken by customs!! Super exciting early Christmas. It had some things I wished I had brought and gifts for my host family and friends.
December 24th, 2016
I ran a Christmas day race with my friends. Well, not exactly run, but we sure did make our way through the race!
December 31st, 2016
New Years had arrived and the famous 12 grapes tradition rang true!! You eat one grape for each month, with only seconds between each grape. In all honesty it’s quite the choking hazard, especially because the grapes had seeds.
After the grapes were done we went to a party with all of our friends, and pretty much all of the kids living in Villanueva. It lasted until 6am so we spent new year’s day sleeping.
January 15th, 2017
We were on a family outing, driving out in the country when we came across this castle. We just happened to stumble across this beautiful ancient castle, it doesn’t get more European than that.
Here we are in February. How is that even possible?! In these past 5 months I have learned so much, I have made so many friends, I have faced challenges that have honestly changed me as a person, and I have grown up in ways I didn’t know were possible.
I started this experience alone in some ways. I had no familiarity and it was on me to get through that and to find and make some. That may have been the most alone I’ve ever felt in my life. My life was an ocean away. It’s getting over feelings like that, that have truly made me grow up as a person. I have a second home here in Villanueva de la Serena, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you!”- Doctor Suess
Louise Plever is 15 years old and lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her goal during her study abroad program in Spain is “to become fluent in Spanish and make friends that will last a lifetime.” Follow Louise’s adventure in Spain on her blog post updates throughout the year.