I’m home. I’ve been home since Thursday, May 8th. Words cannot describe how good it feels to be back, and neither can they describe the experience I just returned from. So far people have asked me “How was Spain?”, “Tell me about Spain!”, and other related inquires. I always draw a blank. Where would I even start? This past semester was one of the most difficult and most rewarding times of my life. I have never done anything as challenging and exciting. I have grown as an individual more in those 4 months than I have in God-knows how long. Will I miss Spain? Yes. I miss the food, and the friends I’ve made there like Ruben, Sylvia, Raul, Yvan, Tato (host brother) and my other Spanish friends, as well as the American friends I grew really close to like Jordan, Elise, Kelsey, and Andrea (I miss everyone, I just spent the most time with these four).
My Spanish has grown exponentially. The first week of classes my grammar teacher Carmen told me she thought I would be better off dropping into the lower level of advanced grammar. I told her that I wanted the challenge and was willing to put in the work. She let me stay, and she admitted the last week that I was true to my word and had improved tremendously. My host family would continually point out how when I first arrived it took me a while to say things, and I had to listen for a long time to understand. By the end, I was having normal paced conversations, only pausing when I didn’t know what a word meant.
My level of independence has gone up to the point I feel almost completely self-sufficient (just need a steady source of income :P). I mean, I’ve flown, booked hotels, and traveled almost entirely on my own.
I’m braver. I had to fend for myself, try new foods, talk to strangers, walk home at night, etc. I had to overcome some serious anxiety. I got some guts in Spain.
My maturity in my behavior has increased, even though to be honest I thought I was pretty mature to begin with.,
I’m more secure in who I am, and not afraid to be me. I have “nerdy” passions and a different personality, and I’m not going to put those down to please anyone.
I’m more cultured. I mean, I’ve been to the Louvre. Doesn’t get more cultured than that. And I learned how to dance.
I’ve come to see the challenge of keeping the faith outside of a Christian atmosphere, where there are no Bible classes and no one really shaming you or looking down on you for not going to church.
I’ve come to see the challenge of eating well when you don’t have a regulated lifting/conditioning program for your sport. I did my very best with the time and resources I had to stay in shape for football, but this was a huge challenge. I’m not sure how this will play out after my last year of football when my only motivation to go to the gym will be so I don’t have to buy bigger pants.
I’ve come to appreciate relationships more. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I grew very fond of people while I was gone, many platonic, some familial, one romantic.
I am not the same person I was on JAnuary 20th when I left for Spain. Soemthing I realized on the plane to Bostone after it was all said and done is that there will be more times in my life when I look back and say something similar.
“You’ve changed, Bilbo Baggins. You’re not the same hobbit who left the shire.”
-Gandalf, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug