A New Sense of the World Gained from a Year of Studying Abroad in Spain
Arriving home from a year of studying in Spain felt strangely normal. I think it will take time to process this experience and truly realize how much it has impacted me. I learned so much and experienced things I never would have thought I would experience; as much as things, it was feelings and self growth in ways I never knew would or could happen.
It was a year full of trying new things and adapting to a new normal. I made friends that are now like family and have a host family that became like my real family. This just goes to say, it was not just a year of my life, but an experience that will last a lifetime. As long as I maintain my friendships, I will always have these connections.
Practicing Spanish at Home
I’m kind of happy that I still find Spanish words slipping out while I’m speaking. My biggest goal right now is to not forget my Spanish. I have plans to get a job in this local restaurant that has native Spanish-speaking workers, and volunteer with a group of elementary school students who come from Spanish-speaking countries and are still learning English. Any opportunity to practice Spanish, I’ll take it! And having a job will help me go back sooner.
Overcoming the Hard Times Abroad
Living abroad and being an exchange student pushes a lot of limits, and overcoming the hard times is what made this experience so valuable. I was living with a host family and had people to support me, but in some ways I was alone. I was an ocean away from all familiarity, and it was my job to deal with it.
Every Difference Takes a Toll
Going into this experience I knew I had to give it my all, but everything is way easier said than done. One of the main things I had to deal with was eating. The eating schedule was so different, and what we were actually eating was very different.
At my home in Asheville, North Carolina, I eat really healthy and we always have local fruits and vegetables. In my host family, we did eat fruits and vegetables. But, definitely a lot less than I was used to. It may sound like just a small thing, but every difference takes a toll, or at least is something to get used to.
Life is Different Now
I got home from Spain and then had four days to recuperate before I started working at this sleep-away camp I’ve been going to for seven years now.
Camp has always been my home away from home, but in some ways I still don’t feel like my Spain trip is over because I haven’t truly been “home” yet. I think once I get ‘home’ and school starts, the reverse culture shock will kick in. But, life is different now.
A New Sense of the World
As I’ve said many times, going to Spain for 10 months, living with an amazing family and learning more than I could imagine was a completely life-changing experience.
I gained a new sense of the world and gained so much knowledge. It is something that will be a part of me… Always. And I can’t wait to go back. Travel is fun, but now I have a destination because I have people I love, and who love me, and they live a world away. But, in a life we now share.