I have now officially been living in Spain for a little over four months. It’s crazy how fast the time has gone, how much I have learned, and how much I have grown as a person. Before I arrived, I thought a lot about what I wanted to get out of this experience. One of the things I wanted was to be able to dream in Spanish. I can now cross that off my list because I do that all the time!
Looking back on before I arrived and was still in the USA, I truly couldn’t have known what I was getting ready to do. I had ideas, but there was no way to know what the reality of studying abroad in Spain would actually be like. I was going to live with complete strangers, who later turned into a second family.
What I did know was that I wanted to become fluent in Spanish, and that that wouldn’t happen just by taking classes. I needed to immerse myself in the language. I also knew I needed to get out into the world and get a new perspective. Culture shock is real, but it does go away. The first week I cried myself to sleep each night, and thought I wouldn’t be able to stay until June. But, I also knew in the back of my mind that if I left, I would regret it.
I can’t lie. Being away from my family and friends is hard, and there are some days where the fact that I am an outsider really gets to me. But, I also know that I will return home, and that there are always going to be hard days no matter if I am in Spain or back in Asheville. Life is life and being an exchange student is so incredibly amazing that the good and the great out do the bad by a million times. For now I am here to get everything I possibly can from this wonderful adventure, and to be here and in the moment while I still am.
As much as I’ve changed, I am still me. I am at this halfway point with everything. I have a family here and I also have one in the United States. I have a different style and taste of clothes than locals here, but also some of the same. I can do the ‘j’ pronunciation, but rolling my ‘r’ is still hard. As it says in my profile, my goals for studying abroad are to become fluent in Spanish and to make friends that will last a lifetime. And I have indeed made so many friends that will last a lifetime. It’s crazy to think that there was a time that I didn’t know them!
This first half of my year abroad was mostly about understanding the language and getting used to the culture. I can now understand everything, and have adapted well. But, speaking is still a little hard. I can speak, but not as well as I’d like to. Some of my goals going into the second half of this adventure are to be able to speak better, have a higher level of Spanish, and to continue learning, growing, and discovering what this world has to offer.
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.